Journaling

| By Paul | | Comments (11)

There was a time, which seems long ago but really wasn't, when I had huge difficulty keeping a journal. I've been wondering why it was so difficult back then and now I go to it so readily. The other day, in the midst of a crisis and lots of switching, I realized why. When there is so much chaos that you can barely keep track of what's going on all the time, how can you possibly write? Healing from dissociative disorders not only requires a commitment to be alive, but also requires one to contain the chaos to a certain extent. When you get to that place, you are not at all done with your healing. In many ways, I think you are just beginning.

But it is at this point where journaling becomes necessary. Because the goal becomes learning to find ways to be more aware and stitch together experiences and teaching yourself new skills. There is a lot of learning involved and many of you know that in school it's often important to take good notes. Journaling is akin to that.

I have made significant progress this past year because I have made a huge effort to increase communication and awareness through journaling. This has come at a price for me. It's super hard to do. When you start documenting as much of your experiences as you can, huge worlds get opened up to you, but you also become aware in a much more intimate way of how chaotic life is and how quickly states change. Everything is right before you. You really cannot escape what's going on.

A couple days ago I was posting to my private journal that I was feeling fine one minute and literally two minutes later I was falling apart. I also write about the many metaphor-type dreams and nightmares I have right after I wake up (the laptop is beside my bed). And I document almost everything that happens in my life.

Many treaters have suggested that I journal over the years. But the journaling I had done was sporadic and not at the level of commitment I have now. Mostly I had nothing much to say. Or didn't like the handwriting or what was written. But I guess I was just not ready to do what I'm doing now.

I mainly keep things from my perspective. Though parts of my psyche can write and share their views. I also think I often speak as a conduit for parts of me in a co-conscious kind of way. And sometimes I journal from my perspective about what parts of me did.

This level of commitment has really accelerated the healing process many times over for me and the journal almost becomes like a second therapist. I have found that you can really get things out of your head, in the journal, and put them away. I have also found that when I document experiences, I later go back and tease out the meanings and begin to understand what is really going on and what parts are trying to communicate.

As I did this, I began to see patterns that I never saw before and triggers I never realized existed. I also found that it helps parts gain a sense of responsibility. Darker parts who would engage in self-harm began to see that their actions affected others; and now the journal reminds them that we are, most of the time, all in this together. Sometimes for these parts, being able to get out their pain into the journal makes the difference for them and they don't need to act out.

I keep a private electronic journal and I date and time stamp each entry. I keep it on a private password-protected section of this website with access given only to me and my therapist. My therapist follows the journal and, for me, this has been quite helpful. I have talked to others whose therapists read theirs and everybody I've talked to has found this to be helpful. This minimizes the amount of time I need to spend on telling her day to day stuff. It also gives her an almost firsthand view of how things work for me.

I keep the journal for each month in a single file. I mark important posts so I can find them easily. On the first of the month, I take the current journal, archive it, and start a new file. In the archive, I then write a summary of the month. This allows me to keep track, at a high level, of what's happened over the course of the month. When I get to one year, I'm at month 9 now, I'll write a yearly summary.

Sometimes I don't know what to write and I feel like I get stuck. So, I have a few tricks to get me going. If it's real quiet, I try asking basic questions. Like how do I feel in my body? I write down the boring details of what I did today. Things like that. These are the things you may need to do as you first start a journal, and then eventually it will become easier.

I remember my first therapy appointments many many years ago when I couldn't say anything for the whole hour. Everything was meant to be kept inside I suppose. I had been so conditioned to keep things secret. Journaling helps to change all that. So does therapy. But therapy is such a small percentage of your overall week. Journaling can be as much as you need.

In addition, I also keep a handwritten journal in which I both write and draw. I find that the drawings can be very painful. This is the medium that many of my younger parts work best in.

I use this blog for sharing with others some of what I write in my journals. Nothing you read on this blog hasn't already been thought about carefully and written about elsewhere. The blog serves two purposes. It allows me to put "high level" writing (stuff I deem important) on the public pages that is synthesized and edited. But it also allows me to open myself up to others and this is healing. As I wrote in my welcome, I believe that sites like these can contribute by offering unique perspectives and knowledge, thereby enhancing opportunities not only for authors but for readers and society as a whole.

I'd love to hear from others how you use journaling in your healing process.

11 Comments


David said:

I've never journaled as part of therapy, and interestingly enough, it's never been suggested to me, possibly because my therapist is aware that I am one stubborn SOB who won't do anything that isn't my idea first... so she rarely suggests anything at all, and sits back to watch what I'll come up with by myself.

However, I have kept a DID blog since the start of DID therapy (as opposed to the twenty years of useless therapy I had before) and it's been invaluable in tracking my states of mind and recording progress.

I've also learned a lot from reading the fiction I write with a different eye... reading it less as a creative product, and looking for clues about the system and triggers. I've found a lot of good information that way as well.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to David:

David, I really look forward to reading your DID blog tonight. For me, there are many things I write in my private blog that I could never share with anyone other than my therapist. And sometimes that's a stretch.

Castorgirl, You do your blog and that is great!

castorgirl said:

Journalling has also been suggested by previous therapists, but have never been able to maintain it for any length of time. Our blog is the most consistent writing that we've managed to do, and it's been a great help in trying to express and work through the issues and problems we're facing. However, there is a huge temptation when there is an entry that is out of character with our usual presentation or discussing any extreme emotions/reactions to delete the entry. Some of us also hold it up as a shining example of our babyish attention seeking.

I can understand why your therapist reading your private journal would be of great help, but I don't know if I could trust anyone enough to see the very private and painful things that would sometimes need to be expressed. How long have you been seeing your current therapist?

When I read personal blogs, one of the greatest gifts is to get a feeling of validation. To see expressed by someone else a similar feeling or experience to your own. To realise that what you're going through isn't crazy or unusual. It also helps when going through those stages of denial and minimisation of your experiences.

Take care...

Kate said:

Hi Paul,

I think that you have written out an approach for anyone to start their own private blog. I am thinking about doing one once I get back into therapy, hopefully in the next couple of months.

In the past I have done journalling. Mostly I did that during and after the three classes I took that lasted aobut three months each through the local sexual abuse and assault center.

I still look through my old journals for suggestions for areas to work on healing and for ideas/topics to for healing poetry.

Having a pinched nerve in my neck I find journalling by hand is difficult. But typing is much easier on me.

One of the reasons I started a blog was that I was having more and more difficuty expressing myself with words and I doubted my abilities. Blogging has helped me feel more confident once again with my ability to write in a manner that is clear and flows.

Kate

How do people use the journal is a good question. I use it to write things that I don't want to share in therapy or on the blog. Sometimes I will share something from there anyway, but usually not. I gave up on my journal several times because things would just end up getting deleted. That stopped when I promised myself consciously that I was not obligated to share it with anyone. I guess, even though I blog and have therapy, at heart I am the type of person who keeps my own counsel. I'm not big on trust.

jumpinginpuddles/lifesspacings said:

Our blogs, our journal, our private blogs, our pain in its rawness and our collective time is exposure to the world.

This would be such an excellent post for THE BLOG CARNIVAL AGAINST CHILD ABUSE under the healing & therapy category. We have a deadline coming up on Wednesday. Would you consider submitting this? The widget on my sidebar is a link to Blog Carnival, for your convenience. Thanks, in advance, for considering!

Sophia said:

I understand the model of dissociation that you believe in, and perhaps the therapy is needed, but why did you choose this over healthy/empowered multiplicity? I hope that you don't feel like I'm accusing you, because I am simply curious, as a multiple myself.

And how does being called "parts" make your parts feel? Do they have names for themselves, or do they sort of float around, distinct but undefined? Curiousity is a killer.

I wish you well on your journey of healing!
~LeMorgon

Paul Author Profile Page replied to Sophia:

Thank you for telling me your views Sophia. And I look forward to checking out your blog. I don't think what I wrote in this post is in conflict with "empowered multiplicity", though I'm not familiar with that term so I'm not sure exactly what you mean by it. I have no idea if I will stay multiple. And I've said a few times here that I'm not sure the goal for me is to ever be integrated. The goal, right now, is to "feel more whole" (loosely defined) and therapy really doesn't feel like therapy but a sort of guide to help me be an "empowered multiple" to use your phrase. The reason why I write parts and don't give names here is because I made an internal agreement to respect privacy on the blog when I started it a couple years ago. My parts all have names and I use them quite freely in private (especially in the context of therapy). Thank you again, and I wish you well on your journey also.

Sophia said:

"Empowerment does not mean rejecting therapy, or even medication, if those are helpful to the system. Empowerment is about choice. It is about making one's own decisions rather than becoming overly dependent on authority to define and guide one's life. Even a therapist -- even a good one. Empowerment also means the right to interpret one's own system, rather than automatically believing everything other people tell you about yourselves. Empowerment means the group members are learning to cooperate, perhaps to communicate with each other (whether through notes or directly), to organise themselves into a responsible operating system, and see multiplicity as a positive part of their lives --regardless of how their multiplicity originated.

Many people, including professionals, still believe that a trauma-based system must always of necessity have MPD or DID. That is ridiculous. It's saying that your origins as a group define whether or not you have a mental disorder. This goes back to the psychiatric nonsense that being multiple, the presence of others, is itself a mental disorder or a symptom of one."

This is from astrea's.

~LeMorgon

Paul Author Profile Page replied to Sophia:

Yes, I get this meaning. The trauma-based etiology of DID has been shown repeatedly. Nobody ever says that it is a "requirement" to have abuse be the cause of DID, though. In fact the DSM never ever says this in its description of DID.

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This page contains a single entry published on May 19, 2009 11:15 AM.

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