As many of you know, I am healing from a mental illness. An important part of my recovery is keeping a journal. Journals have so many purposes and can lead to healing powers. There are as many kinds of journals as their are illnesses, but I have found that for mental illness in particular, journals are very useful. Allow me to explain.
In my journal, I note medication changes, mood changes, diet changes, sleep changes and any other kind of change that might affect my mental health. When I kept a paper journal, I took it with me to doctor and therapist appointments to educate them about how my illness had affected me since the last time I saw them. Now that I keep my journal online, I take a few poignant notes to take with me, which sometimes generates questions that I wish to ask my healthcare professionals.
Journaling is also an important advocacy tool. I may not always remember when I missed a dose of medication or how I was feeling 3 weeks ago, but my journal does, and it helps me and my doctor make decisions about my care. I can also see if I have improved. If so, I tell my doctor and therapist those things as well as it can affect the amount of therapy and medicine I take advantage of.
Most importantly for me, my journal has shown me my entire journey from beginning to present. When things seem the same as they were 16 years ago, all I have to do is turn to my journal to see that it is not true.
I read my journals yearly to remind myself that I have healed. Writing heals me as much as my meds and therapy do. I remember the first time I decided to reread a 500 page journal I had nearly filled during my early years in care. Parts of it were painful and disjointed, but I was still able to see just how far I had come in my journey. It was amazing to me that I had gone from nearly being put in group home care to living with my hubby and working full-time again. I had been told that would not happen, but it did. Only because I was vigilant about my care through journaling was I able to grow and become the person I am today.
Writing is such a healing exercise and if you have physical or mental pain, I would encourage you to write about it and document your journey with it. Who knows? Someday you may be able to look back on it and wonder that you ever felt that way. Have a great day!