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The importance of journalling

Hi

I just read this article in the Guardian about the positive effects that journalling can have when we write about things like our fears or traumatic experiences. Obviously, for us with MS fear of the future probably isn’t too far away from our consciousness, & many of us will have had to deal with a lot unpleasant experiences because of the MS. So starting to write a journal about those things will probably help a lot. I know from my experience I’ve always found it helpful, & generally feel better after I’ve written about how I’m feeling.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/oliver-burkemans-blog/2013/jul/18/why-keeping-a-journal

Dan

Hi Dan, I so agree and keep an ‘occasional’ journal myself… but I would warn against writing too much about your symptoms.

I did that for a while and found it didn’t help… made me much more aware of my symptoms and reading past entries was a depressing business!

But so agree that writing about emotions can help to ‘free’ them and sometimes even see the funny side.

Thanks for article,

Pat x

I so agree with Pat! I’m not so sure keeping a running commentary about symptoms or negative emotions is therapeutic.

I never seem to stick with it, but occasionally I try to keep a journal of ONLY positive things that have happened. Not things that hurt, or things I was scared about. Sometimes, if I’ve had a rotten day, the only positive thing might be: “At least it was sunny”, or “That bit of cheese I had at lunchtime was really rather nice”. But consciously looking for the positive, in a sea of ****, is a discipline you can teach yourself. It has been shown that over time, actively looking for things you can say you’re grateful for increases a sense of wellbeing. It doesn’t matter if the positive things were small, or few and far between. Consciously reminding yourself of them is what helps.

Speaking of which, I do have some nice fresh bread, and some hopefully tasty vintage cheddar for lunch, and it’s getting to that time. Oh, and Tesco didn’t have the individual trifle I ordered, so they sent me a larger, superior trifle, for the same price. I suppose you might say: “It’s a mere trifle!”, but little, unexpected bonuses do help.

Tina

Hi Dan,

I do keep an ms journal. Any strange symptoms and feelings are written down, how long they lasted, what I did about them and whether what I did worked. I do find it vey useful to look back on when the next strange thing happens, reassured sometimes that whatever it was did go last time. It can be weeks between entries, or sometimes only days. And with my rotten memory it helps to have it written down so that the next time I see the neurologist I can tell him exactly what’s been going on I don’t find it at all depressing to look back, just useful.

Hilary x

That’s definitely my experience. Just recently I had a really horrible experience. I tried my best to avoid & suppress the feelings, but they were churning round & round my head. So I decided to write down how I was feeling. This is the start of what I wrote:

“Angy & sad & confused & bewildered & upset & wanting to cry & wanting out, wanting to get this feeling out of me, for it all to go away; & pissed off & resentful & jealous & lonely & bitter & disappointed”

Hopefully that gives you an idea of just how awful I felt! I didn’t want to journal about it as I thought that would mean turning up the volume on those feelings. But as you say, it got them out of my head. I didn’t do much analysing for the rest of that journal entry; I mostly just wrote down what I was feeling. I was able to get some perspective on the situation, and I felt much better for it.

Dan

OK, so the Guardian article was a bit superficial, but …

Start keeping a journal and you have started CBT
Start making lists to tell your Neuro or Nurse, and again you have started CBT
Start to write down your feelings and yet again you have started CBT
Start to write down the positives and you are now well into CBT

If it works for you, it’s good (so don’t let anyone knock it)
The last thing any of us need is someone trying to treat us for depression with yet another drug

Geoff