Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Therapeutic Journaling

One of the issues that has plagued me with my depression is an ongoing sense of deep sorrow.  Sorrow without explanation.  Sorrow and its cousins Guilt and Shame.  It's easy to push Sorrow, Guilt, and Shame deep down in our gut--cover it over, and do our best to be happy.  But with years of this chronic stuffing, Sorrow, Guilt, and Shame grow larger than life.  Hiding them away somehow fortifies them and they grow and grow and grow. 

Eventually they bubble over.  We are no longer strong enough to contain these toxic emotions.  They come out.  They prefer to show up at the most inopportune times.  It isn't pretty.  It's frightening to us and our loved ones. 

The first time Sorrow, Guilt, and Shame reared their ugly heads for me was about 10 years ago after a difficult pregnancy.  The outcome of the pregnancy was good, but the anxiety and fears took a toll on me emotionally.  I cried for no reason.  I sat, numb and lifeless, and cried.  I tried to pull myself together and couldn't.  That's when I started taking antidepressants.  I talked to a counselor briefly, but only dealt with the surface level which was a determination that I should be joyful--my precious baby was healthy, my lengthy hospital stay was over, I was reunited with my dear family.  I chose not to go deeper at that time. 

10 years of depression and assorted antidepressants followed.  They worked.  Sort of.

Last year, the antidepressants stopped working.  This was actually a blessing since the meds really weren't working very well overall.  I was back to feeling numb and lifeless a lot although I could still manage to hold myself and my family together to some degree. 

As the doctor changed dosages and meds, I found that sometimes antidepressants will actually mimic or worsen the very symptoms of depression!  That's when I knew that I had to get off the bus.  I didn't know how to proceed, but I knew in my heart that God wanted me off the medications.

I am happy to say that I am off the antidepressants. They were weaned over the course of many, many months.  Weaning off the antidepressants was painstakingly slow because my body was fully addicted to those chemicals.  My body had to learn to create it's own happy chemicals again. 

I've sought out a variety of alternative, natural remedies.  I use essential oils and assorted supplements to support my health.  I hope to share more about that in future posts, but you are welcome to email me if you want more info. 

I've also started working with a counselor.  Therapeutic Journaling was one of my first assignments.  This practice has great value for me. 

I like to do my Therapeutic Journaling in the morning.  It's easy to do. 
What tools will you need?  Blank paper, a pen, tissue, and a trash can. 

You'll need a safe place to work by yourself.  Sit down and start writing.  Just write whatever comes to mind.  Don't try to edit or clean up your thinking.  If anger bubbles up, let it.  Write it out.  Cry As Needed.  When Sorrow, Guilt, and Shame rise to the top of your consciousness LET THEM OUT!  Don't try to figure anything out or analyze it.  Just let it out.  Write it out.  You will cry.  You need to cry to purge these old toxic messages. 

The first few times you try this, you may write a LOT of pages.  I did.  As I chip away at the stuff in there, less is coming up.  My writing has gotten a bit shorter.  My typical journaling session fills both sides of lined paper.  This is just my experience--yours may be different.  There are no rules.

How will you know when to stop writing?  The tone of your scribbles will change.  It will change from anger and sorrow, to hopefulness and answers.  Then you'll just sort of know that you are done.

Next step?  Crumble up the paper(s) and throw them promptly in the trash.  You can choose other methods to destroy the page--you might prefer to burn or shred your pages.  Any way is fine, but you must destroy the page.  Do NOT reread the paper first.  Just get rid of it.  Be Free.  Have peace.  Allow joy to enter your soul.

So here are the basics again:
Write. Cry.  Destroy paper.  Repeat.

After that, you need to say some positive affirmations.  Fill your mind with positive encouraging words.  (we'll chat more about this later, too.)

You are a dearly loved Child of God.  God sent His Son Jesus to free us from guilt, shame, and sin.  Jesus is happy to take these heavy burdens from us.  We must choose to let Him.

may you feel God's incredible love for you today,

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens.
      Psalm 68:19

IMPORTANT!  I am not a doctor.  I am not prescribing health care for you.  You are a grown up.  You can take responsibility for your health and wellness choices.  My only purpose is to share what I have experienced.  I use Essential Oils and Products and share these products with others as an Independent Product Consultant.  (translation:  I make money when you purchase these products through me).  I only share these products because they work for me and my family. 

EVEN MORE IMPORTANT!  If you take antidepressants, do not stop them abruptly!  This is very dangerous.  Antidepressants should only be weaned with the guidance of your doctor. 

1 comment:

  1. My heart aches for you with your struggle with depression in the past, and I pray that journaling and working with your counselor are helping and healing to you.

    I feel blessed that I haven't experienced that particular problem, but many of my dearest friends have----and feel very relieved and happy when a solution or combination of therapies restore their happiness.

    All the best, always!