JOURNALING DURING THE LOWEST POINTS IN YOUR LIFE
I recognize that daily journaling is not for everyone.
While I was talking about keeping a journal with a friend, they told me that they can't get into writing in a journal on the regular. However, they added that when they're going through a rough time mentally, journaling is more beneficial to them.
I recognize that not everyone wants to get into regular journaling, I definitely encourage the act of temporarily keeping a journal for bad mental states.
It can be tough. It can get really emotional to the point of tears, especially when you feel like you're at your lowest point. But it's worth it in the end.
THE THERAPEUTIC BENEFITS
Back in 2016, I was going through a really bad breakup. I don't want to go public with the details. But it was enough to send me into an extremely downward mental spiral.
I was already seeing a therapist weekly at the time. The first appointment I had with her after the breakup, I was an complete wreck in the chair. I couldn't speak in coherent sentences, too heavy in tears to be verbal. I had to take my journal out of my bag and let her read the messy entries I wrote the past few days.
It was enough to give her context and guide me through self-improvement. By the end of the hour, she encouraged me to journal intensively to work through the low point I was going through, to log everything that was happening for both of our sakes.
It helped me more than I thought it would, especially when I was usually just using my journal as a bullet journal than an expressive journal. I came to conclusions and solutions as I wrote. I realized that the reason I was so mentally stuck was because of the constant attempt for my ex and I to stay friends.
Journaling about my mental health eventually led to me breaking ties with my ex completely. (And trust me, it was an exceptionally healthier decision for both of us.)
Keeping a journal during such a low point in my life eventually discouraged another particularly bad habit: fanning out my personal issues with other people publicly on social media. It didn't stop me from doing it entirely back then (now I don't really do it at all).
But it made me realize that I did it on social media because I needed a place to vent. Better it go on paper with only my and my therapist's eyes to see than it go on my Twitter.
CREATE A PHYSICAL RECORD
The main reason I started a journal was that I wanted to improve my mental health. Having severe depression, anxiety, and trauma, I struggle with remembering everything if I don't have a physical log to show that certain events existed. Especially because of my trauma, I have blocked out specific events in my past. I'd get surprised when other people bring up said events because I don't recall them at all.
It's even worse when people try to gaslight you about events that happened to you.
That's why it's so important to keep a physical record of your low points. I'm regretful that I didn't intensively journal what happened in the relationship the month before the breakup. I wish I could have reflected back on my own behavior and my ex's behavior before everything fell apart.
Although I understand that not everyone wants to read their old journals, it could also be a good thing to journal through your low points so you can read back on them during your high points.
I do look back at my years-old journal entries from time to time. It can be hard recalling my most difficult times in my life, but it also makes me feel more accomplished.
I used to be in a situation where everything seemed helpless and I thought nothing good would ever come to me. But now I'm much better off, and as cliché the phrase "things will get better" can be, my life really did get better over time.
HOW DO I START?
I always suggest one simple tip: free-write about your feelings for a specific period of time. Set a timer for yourself and just write.
You can apply the 2-Minute Rule to this. Make it easy for yourself to start writing, and you may find yourself writing a lot more than you'd expect! Take out a paper tool and a writing utensil within those 2 minutes and just start going wild. Give yourself as short as 5 mins or a 20 minute burst to write.
If you want to read more about journaling through your low points and get more tips, Greater Good Magazine has a great article about it.