Journals: Good or Bad?

Journals: Good or Bad?

I saw something on television today about how keeping a journal is potentially harmful because it makes you stew in your own feelings and accept negative emotions rather than confronting them and changing it.  It was all about how writing about your feelings and emotions doesn’t actually affect them and that there is no advantages of writing about your misfortunes.  While I accept that opinion, I don’t agree with it.

I started writing in my first journal when I was 12 years old and I have every journal I’ve ever written in, saved on my bookshelf.  At first a journal was just a way for me to express my frustration and feelings during my teenage years and moaning about school and friends, talking about who I had a crush on and how I planned to make them marry me.  It was immature fun and it gave me an outlet, I didn’t have many friends as a teenager and my journal was in a way, my best friend.

As I got older my writing became more serious and reflective, it was about expressing feelings that I couldn’t express to people, talking about my worries and fears, and my dreams and hopes. I felt lighter and free after writing about my feelings, it made things easier for me.

Now, reading back through my journals has proved really useful, not only does it remind me of little happy moments I’d forgot about, it showed me how depression entered my life.  I was diagnosed with depression at 18 and I’d always believed that it had started at 16 after my parents divorce and after I’d been through some bullying.  Looking back at my journals though, I can see now that it affected me long before I realised.  When I was 13 years old, I wrote about killing myself for the first time and periodically after that, I mention not wanting to live and wanting to give up on life.  I wrote more often between the ages of or 12 and 15, and it was all very depressing and now I’ve come to identify my depressive behaviour, I can see that I was depressed long before I realised.  It wasn’t just normal teenage hormones and mood swings, it was a constant feeling of darkness and I described it in my journals as this blackness inside me, that tried to ruin any happiness, I wrote about not enjoying life and feeling not well.

Reading back has helped me, it’s showed me that my depression isn’t because of my parents divorce or being bullied, it doesn’t come from a negative or traumatic experience, it just is.  I didn’t believe in depression as a biological illness, I always thought it was triggered by trauma and I felt guilty for having depression when I knew that some people had experiences a loss worse than mine, people have it a lot worse than me.  Now I think that maybe depression was just always there in me, maybe I don’t have to feel guilty about feeling the way I do when I have so many good things in my life.

Reading back through my journals has also helped me understand where my anxiety stems from, I was always a shy child and I preferred books to people and I enjoyed learning new things, which made me different to other kids and kids can be cruel to someone who is different.  I let classmates walk all over me, I let them say mean things and laugh at me, and I did it because I wanted to fit in.  I tried to follow the trends and change myself to be more like my peers but it never worked, I was always still singled out and it caused me to sink into myself and choose to avoid rather than confront.  I started to run away from situations instead of standing up for myself and that’s why my anxiety has come to be as bad as it is.  One of the things that stands out most to me in my journals is the days I would fake being ill to get out of school because there was a presentation that day or a group project and I was terrified of being humiliated so I did whatever I had to do to fake sickness and get the day off.  I wish that I could go back now and just face my fears because by avoiding them, I never gave myself the chance to prove I was good enough, I made it impossible to build my self esteem and confidence because I found it easier to hide away.  It’s really sad to think that I was so terrified of my classmates opinions and actions towards me and I wish that I had been stronger and stuck up for who I was instead of hiding and trying to change myself into someone else.  I’m 23 now and ever since the age of 12, I’ve avoided any experience which I thought could cause me humiliation, and by doing this, I’ve never given myself the chance to prove my fears wrong.  Just because some kids at school laughed and said horrible things, doesn’t mean everyone is going to do the same and even though I can see that logic, it doesn’t help me because I’m too used to thinking that people will dislike me, so I avoid people and situations where I could be vulnerable.  Just being in public makes me panic, because I have so little confidence in myself and I see people laughing, and think they’re laughing at me, I see people talking and automatically think they are making comments about the way I look or behave.

My journals have shown me where I went wrong, they’ve shown me that I shouldn’t feel guilty for being depressed when I’ve had a much better life than some.  They remind me of better times and make me proud of some of the things I’ve overcome. That’s why I think journals are beneficial, especially when you suffer with a mental illness because you can track your mood and identify triggers and behaviours that may signal a relapse.  It’s like writing this blog piece, it lifts a stress from my shoulders and allows me to say what I want to say without that face to face fear of judgement.  It allows me to reflect and think clearly which is really helpful.  I don’t know how I would have got through most of my life, if I didn’t have a journal to write in.

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Everyone has their quirks….

Everyone has their quirks….

I definitely have some odd habits, that I never realised were odd until I started living with my Fiancé (Johnny)  I like to think of them as my quirks, and they make me more unique.  I’m sure everyone has their own little quirks and when other people see them, it makes them stare in horror or confusion.   I thought I would list a few of my little quirks and rules that I live by and see if anyone else out there shares the same odd behaviours.

  1. Never shower or have a bath without looking the front and back doors of the house.  I never noticed this until I moved out and began living with Johnny and its something he still laughs about.  I sometimes double or triple check the locks on my doors before I have a bath, because I actually worry that someone may just walk on into my flat, straight into the bathroom and see me naked.  It’s not a rational thought, but I can’t seem to set my mind at ease, I cannot step foot in the bath if the doors are not locked.
  2. When closing the curtains, make sure that there is absolutely no gaps.  This stems from a childhood fear of seeing a face between the gap in my curtains and now if there are any gaps in the curtains then I am convinced that someone will be able to spy on me.  It doesn’t even help that I live in a first floor flat so someone would literally have to levitate to reach my window, I still can’t have gaps in the curtains.
  3. I cannot finish a drink. This is something that drives Johnny crazy!  I buy 2 litre bottles of fizzy pop, or a litre of juice and I can only drink three quarters of the bottle. Once it gets past the three quarter line, I cant drink anymore because it tastes wrong.  I literally have five bottles of drink in my fridge at the end of the week with only a quarter left in each of them.  It’s the same with drinking out of a glass, I will always stop drinking a few sips from the bottom because after that it starts to taste wrong to me.
  4. In my bedroom, I have a big built in wardrobe and I cannot sleep at night if those wardrobe doors are open.  It doesn’t matter that the only thing in the wardrobe is clothes, or if the doors are ajar, I cannot sleep without them being shut tight.
  5. Never go in an empty shop.  This probably stems from my anxiety problems but I can’t go into a shop unless there is another customer in there as well, because I feel like the shopkeeper is just watching everything I do and then I have to buy something so I don’t seem rude.  I will stand outside a shop and wait for someone else to go in first, before I enter.  On the opposite end of the scale, I also can’t go into a shop if there is a large crowd of people in there, or my anxiety just triggers panic attacks and I can’t cope.  So basically I can only enter a shop with a minimum of 1 person and a maximum of about 5. Frustrating!
  6. I hate touching food that has gone cold.  You know that situation where you’ve eaten dinner and just want to relax so you leave the plates on the kitchen worktop and promise to clean them later, I can’t do that.  Once cooked food has gone cold, I cannot touch it, it literally makes me gag and flinch in disgust.  It’s the same food I was eating an hour ago but once it’s no longer hot, I can’t bear to even look at it.
  7. The milk to cereal ratio is critical in my house.  Johnny cannot make my cereal because it’s just too stressful for him and I end up having to do it over anyway.  So I have to have about 3/4 cereal and 1/4 milk, there needs to be enough milk to wet the cereal but not enough to make it soggy because once it starts to go soggy, I can’t eat it anymore.  I know people that absolutely drown their cereal in milk and it drives me mad.
  8. The before bed ritual.  Again this is probably something that comes from suffering with anxiety.  Before I can attempt to sleep, I have to run through a checklist of things and it something that really frustrates Johnny because he’s just drifting off to sleep and then he hears “Did you lock the door?” and he grunts yes “Are you sure?” and he grunts yes louder.  “Did you turn the lights off?”, “Did you turn the cooker off?”, “Did you turn the heating off?” and it goes on and on, did you do this and did you do that?! It almost always ends up with Johnny getting up and going round the house checking everything which he knows he’s already done, because he knows I’ll end up getting up and triple checking it all myself.
  9. My serial killer bookshelf.  I sincerely hope I am never investigated for a crime because my shelf of serial killer books will definitely give a bad impression.  I can’t help but enjoy people’s reactions though when they run their eyes down by shelves and it’s all Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and Classic Literature until they come to the bottom shelf, this is when their face turns to one of worry and horror because there is a whole shelf filled with crime books, serial killer stories and forensic textbooks.  I do have a diploma in Forensic Science and Profiling so it’s not that odd, I am just interested in the reasons behind crime and how crimes are solved.  I do like to remind Johnny when he’s annoyed me though how I have a shelf of ways to kill him and hide the body…….
  10. Eyeliner will help me survive in an apocalypse.  I have an addiction to buying eyeliner, my sister does AVON and every order I put in has at least one eyeliner.  It doesn’t matter that I have a perfectly good eyeliner that’s brand new, if I see a slightly different one, I have to buy it in case it’s better than the one I have.  The funny thing is I rarely go out because of my illness so I don’t wear make up regularly.  I literally buy eyeliner and add it to a box of about a hundred I already have.  I’m convincing Johnny that when the apocalypse happens, those eyeliners I’ve spent so much money on will be useful somehow.

 

So there are ten of my quirks and behaviours which make me a unique person.  They might be odd to some people but to me, they are a part of me and I embrace the crazy.  It’s good to have something which makes us different and sets us apart from everyone else and it’s also fun to meet someone else who shares one of the same quirks.  So let me know if any of you have similar quirks, lets all be quirky together.