I had no idea when I began writing/journaling about my experiences with depression how vital it would become in my journey towards wellness. The act of writing about my thoughts, feelings, challenges, and triumphs has made it possible for me to view my struggles with depression from a different perspective – allowing me to make better choices regarding my mental health. I wholeheartedly believe journaling made it possible for me to do well in depression treatment.
Anytime I encounter someone who is struggling with depression – or any other mental health issue – I strongly encourage him or her to start writing in a journal. I know writing long detailed journal entries is not for everyone, and can be overwhelming for people who do not normally like to write. That is OK. Even the most basic of journal entries -ones simply tracking your daily moods -are often enough to help someone keep track of what is going on in their head. My first attempts at journaling about my depression took the form of smilely faces and sad faces in a pocket calendar.
Some of the reasons writing/journaling can help someone manage their depression are:
1. A journal is a safe place to release your thoughts and emotions. One of the worst things you can do if you are depressed -or anyone for that matter – is to bottle up your thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Writing about them helps you release – making it easier for you to move forward.
2. A journalmakes you takea good look atyourself. If you have a very negative attitude -which feeds into your depression – you will be able to identify it very quickly. By reviewing previous journal entries, you will be able to see threads of doubt, mistrust, and hopelessness. When you can clearly identify these negative thought processes, you can take action toward changing them.
I have to tell you from my experience, learning how to change your negative thought processes to positive ones is probably the MOST IMPORTANT step in depression treatment.
3. A journal is yourplace to just “be“. Sometimes using words to express yourself is not enough. It can be just as healing to express your self with paintings, drawings, photographs, and etc.
4. A journallets you knowif you are progressing. One good thing about keeping track of your days is -when you are consistent – you will be able to keep track of your progress. You will have something you can look through, and see how much you have improved. It will also be something that you can use to identify areas that still need some work – for example, a negative attitude.
5. Writing helps you geta handle on your mental status. Journaling your way through depression, is like keeping a ledger. It allows you to keep track of your ups and downs, and their causes. Being able to predict your mental lows makes it easier for you to manage them.
Here are a few ideas to get you started journaling:
The following is a list of writing prompts that should be helpful to most new journal writers, and might even spark a few ideas in those who have been journaling for a while: