Journaling for me personally was something I thought people kind of grew out of after jotting down about their heartbreak with the kid next door or something. I never thought it was something to take with me into my everyday adult life. I had never kept a diary growing up, I tried to, but ended up writing about my day and then forgetting I had it for three years.
It was only when I relapsed with anorexia in 2020 that I committed whole heartedly to journaling and writing down how I felt.
People had always advised me to do it and said it helps but I never really believed them, I just remember thinking “Why would I hurt my wrist writing words when I can just think them?” a thought that makes me laugh now, knowing the true power of journaling and how much it helps.
I started off just writing negative things: things that bugged me, thoughts I couldn’t express and slagging off people I knew I would never confront ,so it became a negative type of experience; there was no balance in writing the good and the ugly, it became just about the ugly (although when you’re battling your own head every single day it is often hard to look at the good)
I moved back in with my Mum in lockdown when I relapsed because I needed the support. Sometimes though, trying to tell her something as simple as how I felt after having a snack or what my head was telling me to do, felt impossible. It could literally feel as if someone had their hand on my throat and every time I opened my mouth to express how I felt, it got tighter. This sent me into a horrible spiral because the less you talk about them, the bigger and scarier the monsters in your head get worse.
Then one day I thought f**k it, I’m gonna try it. I'm going to write down everything I’m thinking and how this horrible, ugly illness makes me feel, and how it makes me look at myself and other people, and how sorry I am I can’t be the little girl my Mum raised right now... and the craziest thing happened.
it actually worked.
Just by writing and communicating how I had been feeling, I instantly was able to start opening up vocally to my loved ones; That helped me feel less alone and helped them know how to help me more, or to understand things that made me feel worse. It was like I had finally found my voice again and I knew what these thoughts meant. Somehow looking at these 'thoughts' on paper made me realise they were not my thoughts, and it allowed me to begin the separation of what was my eating disorder and what was me. I’d finally found me again.
I still journal to this day almost daily and sometimes I know when I haven’t journaled for a long time I can feel the difference in my throat and mind, it feels stuck and cloudy, and once I start journaling and connecting to myself and expressing and hearing my emotions I feel so much better
Journaling has been one of my biggest pillars in recovery and still continues to be.