Stress and Journaling: An encouragement to write

I’ve been literally filling journals with my thoughts, problems, prayers, memories, joys, and tears since I was able to write somewhat cohesive sentences. I have a few short entries from when I was about 5 years old in a little diary with two little bears on the front of it. Back then, my problems were so simple – one such entry was from 1996, and I wrote “I will never forget my bum bum hurt.” Bless my little heart. And bum-bum. It was nothing a little Preparation-H could have solved. You can read more entries from that diary here.

Journals Bookshelf

From ages 6-12, I would occasionally write but I think I spent more time playing outside (in the street because we were rebels…and lived on a tiny side street that everyone complained should have been a one-way), watching movies and TV and the like. My writing really picked up when I was 13; eighth grade was when boys started showing interest in me, so naturally that was something exciting to write about.

But with that came frustration and heartache as I realized that these boys were not really giving me attention because they liked my good-natured heart, were intrigued by my silly personality, were ensnared by my sense of humor, or because they wanted to be that knight in shining armor that Disney hyped me up for. Nope, these guys [read: high school boys] were only noticing me and showing interest with hopes for physical pleasure. And when they didn’t receive what they wanted, they swiftly moved on to someone else who would gladly give it to them.

So at that time, most entries were about boys, friends, and my life. As high school progressed, my writing became more frequent, the entries became longer, and my ability to write became more fluent. I know that many entries probably reiterated the same feelings over and over – it was my way of dealing with issues because I was not one to lay my burdens on others or tell secrets to friends. I was always close to my mom, but I didn’t want to put my (seemingly) silly, high school level complaints and issues on her; she had enough to deal with already. I know she was always willing to listen and offer advice, but I just could never bring myself to tell her at the time it was bothering me.

So my journal became my friend and confidante. Yep, I know that sounds super strange and quite pathetic, but at the same time, I am now able to look back at how I was feeling for more than 10 years of my life. Not many people can say that, so I think that’s pretty cool. I can go back and see the crazy rollercoaster that has been my life, with lots of ups and downs, knowing that everything in those journals has miraculously led me to where and who I am today. Cheesy, but whatever.

To make my entries and writing more fun (or maybe personal?), I started to write each one in a different color. There was never any pattern or set rotation; I would simply pick a color that I hadn’t used in awhile, maybe the color of the shirt I was wearing, or a color that matched my mood. Many entries are on the sad or frustrated (even depressed, if I looked back at it now) side and were, therefore, in black. Those were days when I honestly felt I had no one else to turn to, so I needed to write my feelings on paper in order to get them out of my head. It was therapeutic in a way.

ALL the journals

I have many memories that I can look back at and know exactly what day they happened. Lots of high school memories with friends, my high school boyfriend, my mom. Then there was college – a lot of difficult ones take place then. The time after college was probably the most depressing of all – that’s when I was still dealing with the emotional impact of the break-up of my long-term relationship, leaving the safety and comfort of college and the new friends I had made, still unsure of things with Tom who moved away after college, trying to figure out a job situation, dealing with my Mom moving into a nursing home, and living in a house all alone at the age of 22. Whew, it stresses me out just thinking about it.

So anyways, I want to encourage anyone reading this to write. If you’re dealing with a hard time at work, at home, at school: write! Even if it’s just a temporary way to let your emotions out, jot ideas down, get your thinking juices flowing (weird phrase, but okay): write! Even if you don’t think you’re a good writer: write! You don’t have to have a poetic flow or use crazy big words or sound sophisticated at all – it’s for your personal use, your eyes only, so who cares? Get it yet? WRITE for goodness sake!

Now, obviously there are other mediums in which you could let your stress out: music, video, sports, other exercise, cleaning, organizing, etc. Part of the reason I have this blog is to share my ideas and get some emotions (whether silly or serious) out of my head! I still write in my journal every now and then, but this is the place where I can share ideas so that I might help others in the process. When I need to get something out and I don’t have Tom to talk to at the moment or if it’s something I want to remember, I write it in my journal.

I also want to encourage you to seek out someone that will sincerely listen to your hardships without judgment or criticism. I know it’s not easy – I know I could have confided in my Mom for these things, but back then I honestly thought I had to figure things out on my own and keep her from unnecessary stress. I have since learned that it is important to hear and share ideas with others because collaboration is an awesome thing!

Talk to a parent, a friend, a pastor, a teacher, anyone who you are close to and whom you can confide and feel comfortable with. Someone who won’t judge you or criticize you, but will also not beat around the bush and throw a bunch of fluff into their advice. Honest but truthful, caring but not judgmental. I know, I know, easier said than done.

Yes, you’re more likely to get an answer you don’t want to hear. Yes, it’s hard to be vulnerable with people and show real emotions. But it’s so healthy to let your feelings out instead of letting them fester inside of you; I’m 99% sure that my Crohn’s flare-ups were caused by my inability to let out my emotions. Honestly, the stress of keeping things in literally started eating away my insides. Gross. I’ll stop now.

So your assignment is to go (you guessed it) write; you can always open up a Word or Google doc, but I prefer handwriting journal entries. Either buy a composition notebook from the dollar store or one of those fancy journals from Barnes and Noble. Even a napkin will do! Just grab something to write with and something to write on, and start writing! Don’t force it but write what’s on your mind. Let it flow. You can sing that to the tune of Frozen. You’re welcome.

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