Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Difficulty in Journaling

Before I type the rest of this I need to tell myself (and probably some readers out there) that just because I think it, write it or type it, doesn't mean it's true. It just means that's how I'm feeling at one point in time. It doesn't mean that is who I am or who I want to be necessarily. I hurt, I feel, I stress out, we all do it. I need a release. Sometimes blogging is my release, sometimes it's cleaning and sometimes (but not often enough anymore it seems) it is playing the piano or listening to music that fills my soul with whatever I am feeling at that moment in time.

I've been going through waves of emotions the past few weeks. Anger, stress, fear, anxiety, the odd burst of happiness, wonder, amazement, shock, disbelief. And through it all I've been learning more and more about mental illness — mine and others'. I've been learning about the HUGE misconception that knowledge means understanding, that agreement means compromise and most of all I've been learning about trust.

I recently finished a 20 week group program through St. Joseph's Mental Health Outpatient Program. It was on Interpersonal Skills for people with depression. We started out with a goal to work towards during the 20 week program. Mine was to use all of my resources to search for a new job. Half way through the program each member had a check-in with the facilitators to evaluate our individual goal(s), if it was still something we wanted, how we were doing working towards it, if the help of the other group members and the facilitators was in fact helpful. I added a new goal at that time — to journal my feelings that I had difficulty expressing before I actually expressed them or instead of expressing them. The journalling was supposed to be a way for me to put my thoughts down on paper/screen and re-evaluate them to ensure that, when or if it came time, I could get my point across to another person verbally without getting too emotional. Even though I came up with this goal and knew that writing things down helped me, I still found it very difficult to do. And I still do today.

So here I am typing to you about my fear of journalling. I get writer's block when I sit down to journal, to write that letter that will never get sent, to try to organize my emotions and feelings into words on a page. I have no troubles at all making a "To Do" list and organizing THOSE thoughts and ideas into words on a page. So why is that? This irrational fear inside me says that if I write it or type it then it MUST be true. All those irrational things or hurtful things that I think in my head that I sometimes want to say to others — if I write or type those things then they are true. This fear inside me tells me that I'm a mean person for thinking those things and/or writing them. This fear inside me tells me that I'm wrong for feeling frustrated or ignored or sad or depressed or feeling anything that doesn't sound or feel like it lies on the "happy" end of the mood spectrum.

I know that's all bullshit my ego is telling me to try to keep me safe, but it's doing me some serious harm. Instead of practicing saying how I feel by writing it out a few times, I'm packing it up, stuffing it down and gagging on it. It literally is making me want to vomit sometimes. If I'm not feeling like I want to vomit then I'm stewing in the poisonous juices that these unspoken feelings create. The aroma creeps out of my pores and you can see the poison on my face, in my eyes and body language. I turn into a needy, passive-aggressive, moody, poisoned soul. I don't want to be this person. I want to be who I know I truly am — loving, caring, kind, considerate — while still being able to put a voice to my emotions and feelings without someone calling me a bitch. I want to trust my emotions and move forward every day to make a better life for myself and my partner. I want to trust that I am doing the best that I can at any given moment and that my partner is doing the same. I want to trust that the universe has a plan for me and that I just need to keep walking and doing what I love in order for that plan to develop and unfold in front of my eyes. But I can't. My emotions are getting in the way; the frustration is clouding my judgement. And I don't know how to clear the poison from my eyes or the clouds from my judgement.

In a study on change, people were told to sign their name with their non-dominant hand for a set number of days. After getting used to this, and some signatures even looking legible, the group was told that they now had a choice: they could continue to use their non-dominant hand to sign their name or they could go back to using their dominant hand. I can't remember the exact percentage nor can I find the article citing this particular study, but I do recall that the vast majority of the people went back to using their dominant hand, when given the choice. If given the choice, going back is almost always easier but is it necessarily better? The fear keeps me stuck where I am, for now…

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