Journaling can be a game changer in eating disorder recovery. It has been for me.
Your journal can become one of your most powerful allies, it can become a well honed tool from your ever growing recovery toolkit. It’s versatile and you can scribble anything you like anywhere. There’s no right or wrong way to journalling. Journals can be sculpted to wherever you are at in your recovery. Journals can be used for outpouring your thoughts or completing specific activities.
If you’ve not tried the whole journaling shizzle out yet, I highly recommend you give it a go.
Journalling gives us a safe space to churn our thoughts on to the page in all their ugliness or beauty depending how you view it. Thoughts you wouldn’t otherwise exorcise.
The journal itself can be used as a recovery tool, through various journalling exercises and practices you can solidify some of the groundwork from therapy sessions etc.
Sometimes the journal can be as simple as your listening ear when your struggling with an urge. Often the time it takes to write out the thoughts and feelings around a behaviour or an urge is long enough for the urge to pass and you’ve got written evidence of what led to the feeling or thought to help you next time it occurs. Win. Win.
We often take progress we’ve made for granted, but re-reading journals can really help you see each tiny step you’ve made even when you feel like you’re stationary.
I’ve never been a “big sharer” of my thoughts or feelings (until I was well into recovery and now I write a very un-private blog with all my craziness laid bear). However journalling helped me to share some of my most shameful thoughts, fears and emotions without judgement. Part of the eating disorder problem is the inability to share, or express difficult emotions or the feeling that what we have to say is wrong etc. It’s this rhetoric that keeps us locked in. Journalling releases a lot of this and makes it easier to begin to talk outside of the pages.
Keeping a journal can help us to identify recurring themes, thought patterns, processes especially those that occur around our eating disorder “self”.
Although my eating disorder is not your eating disorder we all share some common thoughts patterns that make us similar, which is why I write this blog in the first place. If it resonates with one person I’m glad I write. I find reading about what has helped others in recovery not only inspires and motivates me it actually strengthens my recovery. I remember reading about journalling on NEDA and completing some journal prompts from the “8 Keys To Recovering from eating disorder recovery workbork” and they really helped get me started in journalling in early recovery. Now journalling is part of my daily routine. Mostly in the form of gratitude practice, but I will elaborate on gratitude later.
Once I have written the thoughts out on to page, it becomes so much easier to see them for what they are; THOUGHTS. Just because we have a thought does not make it true.
For example, an old entry of mine in June 2019:
I couldn’t make a single decision about what to eat for dinner, I stood in the kitchen for ages agonising over whether to add oil to the pan, all I could hear was how fat I’m becoming and how unhappy I will beI reminded myself restricting has never resulted in happiness, I was not able to add the damn oil tonight, but I know I am capable of making hard choices and I will find the courage to do it”
After writing thoughts like this out on paper over and over, I began to believe my healthy voice again. Restriction doesn’t make me happy, neither does endlessly pursuing “skinny” They are just thoughts and my truth is I can be happy living an unrestricted life at any size.
My next post I’ll share some journal prompts that have helped me.
But for now, perhaps try and think about if you were to go to bed and wake up recovered ( I know I wish right?!) what would that look like, what are some of the things you would do and feel as someone without an eating disorder? How would your life be different?
Can you scribble somethings you have learned this week? What is helping you, what’s holding you back. What have you discovered about yourself?