Diana's current release is HEALING WITH WORDS, her second memoir. Having survived two scares with cancer, she joins us today to talk about how journaling saved her life.
On more than one occasion, journaling has saved my life. The first time was when at the age of ten, my grandmother committed suicide in my childhood home. In an effort to help me cope, my mother handed me a red leather journal to pour my grief out onto it pages. The journal not only became my lifeline, but it also became my best friend and confident. Writing in my journal transformed me from a broken-hearted, shy ten-year-old to someone who was able to express her profound pain and sense of loss. For many years after, I turned to journaling during turbulent times, such as coping with the angst of adolescence and the loss of friends and parents.
In 1983, while pregnant with my first daughter my obstetrician prescribed bed rest and during my seven months in bed, I chronicled my pregnancy. This evolved into a self-help book for other women encountering similar experiences. Last year the book was updated in collaboration with Dr. Errol Norwitz from Yale University, under the title, YOUR HIGH-RISK PREGNANCY: A PRACTICAL AND SUPPORTIVE GUIDE.
When diagnosed with early breast cancer (DCIS) in 2001, I once again turned to my journal for solace. Then in 2006, when diagnosed with yet another seemingly unrelated cancer, I again turned to writing. In fact, my second memoir, HEALING WITH WORDS: A WRITER’S CANCER JOURNEY was born on the pages of my journal. It’s not only a memoir, but another self-help book with blank journaling pages for others to share their stories.
Keeping a journal has many advantages, but I think the most important is that the journal listens and doesn’t talk back. Sometimes when we’re not feeling good, we might not even want to talk to other people, but we can always turn to our journal to pour out our feelings. Regular journaling also brings us answers as we write through our problems. If I’m not feeling up to par, I typically begin by writing the words, “I feel,” and then see where my words go.
Learning to open up about personal issues even in a journal, does not happen over night, but it’s a part of the healing process. Whether affected by trauma, change, loss or pain, finding the time to write is vital for mental health.
To summarize, there are many great reasons for keeping a journal or notebook, including:
* it is a companion and best friend
* it is a place to work through an illness
* it witnesses the healing process
* it increases awareness
* it is empowering
* it clears the mind
* it builds self-confidence
* it improves communication skills
* it improves mental health
* it is a safe place to vent bottled up emotions
* it is a vehicle for letting go of cloudy thoughts
* it encourages reflection
Good luck and may you be inspired to write!
Diana, thank you for guest blogging here today and sharing your story with us. I can understand where writing in a journal can be a lifeline and help during difficult times.