When it’s not helping

Antique Tool BoxI wanted to get better. And conventional wisdom told me that writing in my diary every day would help, but it was actually making me worse.

I had been journaling for over thirty years. (That’s a lot of paper and ink.)

I had periods where  I wrote more often
And periods where I wrote less.

I was writing several times a week, on average. During the years I spent in LaGrange, though, I was writing almost every day. (That’s even more paper and ink.) I would get up every morning, and just grab the pen and go.

On and on.
Pages and pages.
Ranting and raving.
Raving and ranting.

Then I just quit.

I realized I was having a problem. I had gotten into a rut of writing about my depression and how I was feeling. While that was supposed to be a good thing, it was slowly killing me.

I would start off every day

thinking about how miserable I was.
And then I would write about it.
Writing about it made me even more miserable,
which, in turn, got me to thinking about miserable things
and how miserable I was.
Which I then, dutifully, wrote about. Every. Single. Day.

Not helpful.

So I just quit. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. I had these…”feelings.” What was I supposed to do with them? I couldn’t call someone and just vent. Not at 5:30 in the morning. It took about a month. I’m not saying I got all better, but I think it was very helpful for me to just step away from it and think about something else.

I had to get away from

the rut of always focusing on the negative…
what was dreadful about my life…
why I hated everything.

Daily journaling was definitely useful for a while, and it’s a tool I recommend.

But it had gotten to be the only tool in the toolbox.

When you’re faced with a screw, a hammer isn’t the tool you need.

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4 thoughts on “When it’s not helping

  1. Thanks for the nod…and great information. It is always helps me grow to see other perspectives on what people experience. Thank you for sharing.

    • I have gone back to journaling, because I think it’s a valuable tool. It just wasn’t serving me well at that time. It’s really important to step away sometimes. It gives you a different perspective.

  2. I kind of had a similar experience…I found myself focusing on how unhappy I was rather than doing things that made me happier. Once I added daily uppers to my life, the depression gradually eased up. Not that I don’t still have to battle it on occasion…I do, but at least I now recognize it for what it is and have a few other tools in my little pink toolbox!

    • I wish I would’ve had my therapist (at the time) read my journal. I think it would’ve been faster for someone else to note my tendency to focus on the bad things. But then, maybe I wouldn’t have learned such a valuable lesson… I will also say that lithium has helped more than any other medicine I’ve ever taken. I learned a lot from therapy, but it’s much easier to use the appropriate tool when I’m not in such a funk that I’d rather not even open the toolbox.

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