How Keeping a Journal Helps Me Manage My Schizophrenia
Sometimes, my diagnosis causes my thoughts to race, and if I don't control them, they can spiral out of control. This often leads to me isolating myself from friends, family, and life in general. As my thoughts fester, I become more paranoid and start to lose touch with reality. My auditory hallucinations become louder, and my delusions become more prominent. At this point, it becomes crucial for me to refocus my mind. While I have tried various coping mechanisms, one that has truly stood out for me is journaling.
I started journaling in 2013 as a way to connect with my emotions, and I discovered that it helped me regain focus. By writing down my racing or intrusive thoughts and reading them out loud, I found that it became easier to distinguish rational concerns from irrational thoughts. Essentially, it allowed me to test reality. Journaling has made it possible for me to honestly address my paranoia and provided a judgment-free space for me to vent. It has helped me think more clearly and view situations and relationships objectively. Most importantly, it has offered me a way to reflect on my thoughts and emotions from a broader perspective, enabling me to keep myself in check and identify and address symptoms early on.
Although I typically do not share my journal entries with others, I do utilize them during therapy sessions. Sharing my entries with my therapist helps provide a better understanding of what I have written, and my therapist acts as a sounding board to help me process my experiences. While journaling is not a cure-all for my mental health recovery process and does not replace medication, it has been an incredibly valuable coping mechanism for me. It allows me to not only express myself freely but also monitor my feelings, thoughts, emotions, sleep patterns, stressors, and symptoms. I can also track improvements in medication management and healthy habits that contribute to my overall well-being.
When I first started journaling, I felt overwhelmed and unsure how to begin, so I started small with just a few sentences. I make an effort to journal every day, although sometimes I may miss a day, I always pick it back up. I have noticed that I feel better when I consistently journal. It promotes perspective, self-care, a sense of accomplishment, boosts my self-esteem, and encourages self-acceptance. For anyone with schizophrenia, I would highly recommend giving journaling a try as a way to manage symptoms, track medication, and practice self-care. It is a coping skill worth exploring, and there are even guided journals available to provide prompts and assistance in getting started. The beauty of creating your own journal is that you can write about anything you want. These are your thoughts and feelings, and they are yours to cherish.