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Guest post by Suzanne Marie

There are many reasons keeping a journal can be beneficial to those dealing with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, bipolar, and eating disorders. The world can be scary for individuals with thoughts and emotions they don’t fully understand. Living in an unrelenting world is hard enough, then add in raw feelings you don’t know what to do with and it makes it even harder.

Most people with mental illness feel “stuck”. They may not like themselves or understand who they are. Their thoughts may race or they may feel void of emotions altogether. It isn’t easy, but you have to start somewhere. Finding ways and means to express yourself is key.

This is where writing in a journal can be cathartic. Even if you’ve never done it, it’s okay, it’s not as hard as you think! There are many ways to journal; one may work better than Journal 4the other. First, get yourself a really cool notebook or journal. Then, find your favorite pen and find a quiet place to sit alone. No phone, no computer…

The hardest part of journaling for most people is knowing where to start so I will give you some ideas to help. However, feel free to come up with your own ideas. Remember, no one will see this but you. Be honest and just let the pen flow.

  1. Gratitude List: Write down everything you are thankful for or grateful to have.
  2. Positive Trait List: Write down a list of positive traits you have. Include the things you like about yourself and what you have to offer another person. Dig deep, there are plenty!
  3. A Letter to Yourself. Include the good and the bad. Let those bottled up emotions go, and just write! It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else but you.
  4. Self-Care: Make a list of good things you can do for yourself to help you feel better. You may be doing some already!
  5. Let It Flow: This is where you just write. Don’t worry about penmanship or grammar. Don’t go back and read. Write about your day, your life, your feelings, a particularly hard time you may be going through. Don’t censor. Just keep going!

Talking about yourself, writing about yourself, even thinking about yourself can be terrifying. Especially when you’ve tried so hard to hide it and pretend it wasn’t there. Writing your thoughts and feelings down can be the easiest way to bring them to light. It can be freeing and therapeutic at the same time.

Learn to journal every day. Even if it’s for five minutes, just do yourself a favor and start. It’s your time. Do it for you.

 

Suzanne
Suzanne Marie is a professional writer living in rural North Carolina. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, and anxiety. She looks forward to writing posts for “This Side of the Creek” and expanding her knowledge of mental health.
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