Ever since I started more actively pursuing and attacking my anxiety, I’ve read a lot of advice, one piece of which stuck with me. I was just too demotivated to follow it.
That advice, which comes from The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook, was to keep a journal. Or rather, to log thoughts and feelings of anxiety over a period of weeks and months and keep track of patterns of feelings and behavior. Patterns which may otherwise go unnoticed because they’re never viewed in a big span at once, but only acted out day by day.
But my problem was that I felt these patterns were blindingly obvious. I never wanted to start writing because I had the audacity about myself to assume I knew who I was very well. I knew my weak points. I knew how I would act in certain situations. I knew I’d be happy one day and sad the next. It’s just nature’s natural ebb and flow.
The funny thing about all this though is that once I did start writing, I did see patterns I’d never noticed before. I tend to use the word “impossible” a lot in the entries. I tend to write about positive things in one entry with the next being completely focused on how my positive thoughts were misdirected (I knew this, but it’s interesting to see it played out).
For a few weeks now–since mid-November–I’ve been keeping this journal on an almost steady basis of two times a week. And I plan on keeping it for quite a while.
Essentially, whenever I catch myself with a moment of free time, especially at school (which is an environment I find much easier to write in), I just start writing. How my day was, what people said to me, what I think I’m feeling.
No matter how much difficulty I find in putting that first word down to start the first sentence of an entry, I rarely hold myself back. I try to find a suitable starting point quickly so as not to lose my entire train of thought. Once I’m able to run with my feelings, I write pages. Every sentence becomes less viscous. Every paragraph becomes more in-depth. Every page sheds more light on my inner demons I can’t seem to settle with.
The first time I wrote an entry it was purely out of spite. Spite for the world, spite for other people, and spite from my inner self who couldn’t seem to have his selfish desires satisfied no matter what he did. I was exceedingly mad when I first started writing; the beginning of that first entry is rife with anger. I quickly grew more passive, though, which shows my short-term tolerance for staying angry.
Most of my entries since then have been relatively free of spite, but they’re still almost completely full of remorse. Remorse, and more painfully, longing.
Keeping a journal is much different from keeping a blog. You may well wonder why I just don’t slap what I write up here. Truthfully, it’s not so much that I don’t want to. I’m not afraid to share a lot of things with people. I just find it much easier to physically interact with my words via a pencil and paper. I can’t stand to write on the computer, especially whenever I feel like I do when I write these journal entries. I end up feeling disconnected from my head and losing motivation.
The more I write in this journal, the more I find myself trying to turn what I write into a piece of art. I am relatively unrestrained in what I write about, but I get a fair amount of joy from trying to maintain standards of writing and reading the entries back to myself. I am, pretty much, indirectly writing an autobiography.
I find it to be a successful therapy as well. I always thought I wouldn’t ever be able to express my problems and feelings to nothing but a piece of paper. I felt like I needed other people at the other end to hear me. I needed other people to respond to me and to validate me. A friend told me once that he relieved anger by writing it out, and I distinctly remember telling him that I’d never be able to release any of my feelings without someone to listen.
But truthfully, that feeling largely has gone away. When I realized how intimate I could get with my thoughts with just a pencil, paper, and a conducive environment to writing I felt a certain relief.
I can be a lot more comfortable with myself in writing than I could be with people responding to what I said. I suppose I always felt guilty about wasting someone else’s time when it was my problem to handle. At least with myself, I’m only consuming my own time.
This journal has pushed me forward by leaps and bounds in dealing with my emotional issues. It, combined with supportive and loving friends and the unshaking resolve of my parents to understand this problem, has given me insight recently and made me realize what an amazing life lies before me right now.
And right now, I feel the best I’ve ever felt.