Keeping a journal can be like talking to your best friend – a shoulder to lean on in difficult times except without fear of gossip, judgment or wrongful presumptions.

Journal writing is a healthy form of self-expression, a safe place for your innermost thoughts and feelings, words meant for your eyes only. As a cathartic outlet, you can write without a filter, no worries of misinterpretation, no explanation required. It’s a place for irrational thoughts, even those deemed inappropriate, like profanity and strong words; things you wouldn’t want to ever say to another person should the opportunity arise. Words are powerful and can hurt and are sometimes better left unsaid, instead best expressed in the safety of the personal pages of a diary where they will not be evaluated or scrutinized, giving you the time to think before you speak.

Leaving feelings bottled up inside, especially the negative ones such as anger, is unhealthy and writing has proven to be therapeutic during difficult times when no one is available to talk to. For those whose minds are overwhelmed, taking thoughts and putting them down on paper is like unloading a burden and can bring some peace of mind. It is meant to be done on a regular basis, kept as a record of one’s thoughts. After a significant period of time has passed, you can look back and reflect on your diary entries, analyze your thought patterns and try to learn from them.

I think back to what I wrote in my diary as a young adult and I noticed that I had extremely strong thoughts represented by harsh words in situations that hurt me. I look at writing I did for homework in elementary school and I think that, although the story I wrote was fictional, I used words that could have subconsciously been related to something that I had endured . The interesting thing about each person’s experiences that is evident in our writing is that each of us could go through the same ordeal but we cope with it and express ourselves differently. We do the best we can. It doesn’t make it any less traumatizing. The important point is that we get our feelings out and let go of them.

Don’t ignore something that is hovering at the back of your mind. Write it down – again and again until it’s out of your head and no longer bothers you. It could be in the form of a letter to someone who hurt you. You don’t need to give it to them. Release it from your mind. Give yourself permission to be in the present moment and replace the past negative experiences with more positive ones as you begin a journey of self-discovery. Then write about those positive moments too. Let go.

About Rosa Dawson

I'm a 40 year old female from Ontario, Canada. I have first-hand experience with mental health. Officially diagnosed with being in the early stages of schizoaffective disorder in 2004, I struggle with depression and schizophrenia. I've had suicidal thoughts for many years and on a few occasions I have tried to kill myself. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Sociology, I have studied mental illness with the goal of making a positive difference in the lives of others. Looking back, although I would not know it at the time, I probably had issues at a young age. I believe society has yet to take a proactive approach to mental health. With my writing, I wish to reach as many people as possible with this message: You should not suffer in silence. You are not alone.

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