Journaling in eating disorder recovery – is it something you’ve considered? Do you sometimes have a hard time talking out loud about what’s troubling you? Do you find it difficult to put your thoughts and feelings into words when you’re speaking with someone, so you choose to keep everything in rather than fumble around for the right words? Is it difficult for you to sort out and work through past or current painful happenings? Would you like an outlet during times that are inconvenient for others, but when you really need to talk about something that’s on your mind?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may want to consider journaling. While each of us is unique and find varied ways to express ourselves, journaling is helpful to many and is certainly worth a try. Some people are reluctant to try journaling because they are concerned about doing it “right,” they’re afraid someone will find their writings, or they simply don’t know where to start.
If you’re concerned that someone will read your journal, how about purchasing a locking box of some kind to store your journal in and hiding the key? You can journal on the computer and store your writings on an external backup instead of on the hard drive. You can use a free online journal. One of the benefits of journaling in eating disorder recovery is being able to look back at what you’ve written. However, if you aren’t comfortable journaling any other way, you can shred the pages or delete the computer file after you’re finished. Although you won’t have your musings to refer to later, you’ll have had the opportunity to express yourself and that’s valuable in and of itself.
One of the many benefits of journaling is that there are no rules. It’s just a place to record your thoughts and feelings and it doesn’t matter if your entries are sometimes scattered. You don’t even have to write in complete sentences. Furthermore, if you’ve already written something down, but it’s still bothering you, it’s okay to write it out again. You’ll likely need to do this with the things that trouble you the most. Also remember that your journal is a place where you can admit just how angry, sad, or disappointed you are. You can also pen the struggles you may feel too embarrassed or ashamed to say out loud. Your journal will not judge you.
One of the amazing things about journaling is that as you write out your thoughts and feelings, you sometimes begin to see things from a different perspective. You may also notice yourself continuing to write and seeing words on the page that you didn’t expect. You may uncover thoughts and feelings you didn’t previously realize you had. Once issues are revealed, you can then work through them.
Whether it’s the eating disorder behaviors or the underlying issues you find most difficult to talk about, know that you aren’t alone. Many people struggle to express themselves. These are very personal matters and they aren’t easy to discuss. It’s understandable if you struggle with allowing certain memories or emotions to surface. It’s understandable if you’d rather not tell someone about some of the unusual food rituals you may practice. Journaling is one of the tools you can use to help you in this area. In the end, what you think and feel needs to come out so you can heal and begin developing healthy coping mechanisms.
As you undoubtedly already know, it isn’t good to keep things in. Keeping thoughts and emotions locked inside will only allow them to hurt you more. Even back in Bible times, Job expressed himself. “Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.” Job 7:11 Don’t keep silent. Whether you use your audible voice or speak through your pen for now, start expressing yourself.
I hope you’ll consider giving journaling a try to help you in your eating disorder recovery. Even those who are resistant to attempt journaling are sometimes surprised at the benefits once they actually start doing it. If journaling doesn’t work for you, go on to something else. Just don’t give up on it until you’ve given it a sincere chance. You owe it to yourself to find healthy ways to express yourself. Whether it’s journaling or something else, please don’t give up until you find what works best for you
By Laurie Glass
Find Journaling Pages on the Recovery Helps page.