How do you Journal?

PRFL

Registrant
Greetings, fellow MS brothers.
I’m just curious about how to best journal about our experiences regarding CSA, trauma, PTSD, etc. I myself have journaled in the past but not in many years, but need to resume it. I used to do just free-flow stream of consciousness writing and that’s fine, but I’m curious about what else might work or could be useful. I’m thinking in the terms of more structure but I’m open to suggestions. I plan to using a journaling app on my iPad because my handwriting is illegible even for me and my hand hurts, but otherwise I’ll be glad to hear of whatever ideas can improve my experience. I’ll be seeing an alternate counselor soon so I’m sure she’ll have some ideas as well. So, for those of you that journal, what have you found to be most useful?
Thanks!
 

BDD

Registrant
PRFL,

I use Google Docs. I like it because I can use it on my desktop or device. My files are messy, but I don't care.
 

PRFL

Registrant
Thanks!
What do you write about? Do you make lists? Any particular exercises? Affirmations? Do your entries have any particular structure?
I usually just write and write but I’m thinking I should try other types of entries and attempt a better sense of structure, so I’m putting this out there in case there’s some journaling approaches I haven’t been aware about.
I would like to do something like tags so I can refer to entries with the tagged topic but my app doesn’t seem to have that capacity. How else can I keep track of topics I might tag, like, “triggers”. “Coping skills”, “inner child”, etc? Since I tend to write copiously, I’m concerned that important points could get lost in an ocean of words.
So, I’m just brainstorming ideas.
 
Basically, when I was at the start of trauma therapy, I used my journal for exposure therapy. I would write directly about my trauma until I felt too agitated to continue - then I would calm down and reread what I wrote. Upon rereading, I noticed I felt much better.

After I had finished that, I used my journal to notice when I was triggered and feeling symptomatic. It helped me identify my triggers and sticking points. I would also summarize my journal entries and discuss them with my therapist.
 

KMCINVA

Registrant
I began to write as flashbacks and nightmares were taking over my life--the beginning of facing the CSA. I would write and I every so often look at what I wrote--many times different handwriting--not sure why. The T and others have said it reflects the different parts of me that were crying for help. I read the words--those that I can decipher because many words are illegible. It would calm me down when I would write. I would read some excerpts to my T at times--I actually looked at the journals the other days and I realize the pain I was living and the destruction that was being heaved my way from words and actions of others. I never want to go back to that place or environment in time--I believe writing helped me through this difficult time. I wrote for over a year. One day I may transcribe them to a Word document and some have said to share with others so they can see the importance of understanding and showing compassion to a survivor. That is for the future.

A long way to answer your question, find a medium that you are comfortable. For me grabbing the pen and paper was the simplest, for others it will be typing. Either way I hope it brings you relief and helps you on your journey to heal.

Kevin
 

Bradley P

Registrant
I like to journal. I suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and I've found that writing helps me to organize my thoughts. It seems like once my thoughts are written out, it's almost like emptying them from my mind, onto the page. I feel a little less heavier after writing.
 

BDD

Registrant
PRFL,
A lot of what I write is just stream of consciousness.
I do use it to compose my blog posts (Wordpress is chunky).
I am using it to write my story (or not, because I am stuck!)

Thanks!
I would like to do something like tags so I can refer to entries with the tagged topic but my app doesn’t seem to have that capacity. How else can I keep track of topics I might tag, like, “triggers”. “Coping skills”, “inner child”, etc? Since I tend to write copiously, I’m concerned that important points could get lost in an ocean of words.
So, I’m just brainstorming ideas.
Wow, great point. I just churn through, build piles and mountains of drafts. Because it's Google, not surprisingly the search function is really good. I just checked and there is no built in tag system. It would be nice if it had an auto enter option that pulled from tags you've already used. I need to start tagging!
 

PRFL

Registrant
PRFL,
A lot of what I write is just stream of consciousness.
I do use it to compose my blog posts (Wordpress is chunky).
I am using it to write my story (or not, because I am stuck!)



Wow, great point. I just churn through, build piles and mountains of drafts. Because it's Google, not surprisingly the search function is really good. I just checked and there is no built in tag system. It would be nice if it had an auto enter option that pulled from tags you've already used. I need to start tagging!
There’s a journaling app in iOS (maybe also Android?) called Day One that has the ability to tag. Problem is that I don’t like the interface, dislike the colors available, and it’s a lot more complicated than the app I use, which is called Journaling. There are a few other journal apps, some free, some paid (my Journaling app is paid, $1.99 which is very reasonable, Day One has a limited free version but their paid one has a hefty subscription fee which is another minus for it). I have a couple personal private blogs in Blogger and Wordpress, which can do tagging, embed videos, etc, but I’m very leery of putting anything THIS personal on the internet in any shape or form (exception being, of course, posting in MS).
 

Toad

Registrant
I have written out my story and wrote poems about what I feel. My therapist suggested I try drawing pictures. Especially since some of my abuse was before I learned how to talk. And kids tend to draw pictures to express themselves. So I have been drawing alot lately. It has been very powerful. I tend to minimize and deny what has happened and how I feel about it. But as I have drawn it, I have had to face it. As I have drawn the pictures the constant flashbacks and dreams have lessened considerably. But I was still struggling with anger directed at myself and my body. So my therapist suggested I draw pictures of being little and directing the anger where it belongs, at the perp. As I have done so it has reduced the urges to take the anger out on my self by self harm.
Anyway, for me photo journaling has been very helpful. It was hard to start because the pictures looked like a kid drew them and I felt bad drawing the disgusting things that had happened. But it has been one of the most helpful, healing things I have ever done.
 

EQCR

Registrant
If you are looking for a very structured format that can help you re-evaluate a situation I would recommend a 'four corners' approach. It involves separating Facts, Feelings, Judgments, and Desires (outcomes) in that order.

1) Facts- write down the facts in one sentence observations.
This can be the trickiest part, most of the time judgments get mixed in. For instance "you told me you would be here at noon. It is 12:30. (both observable facts) is different than "you are late," where an observer would have to know other information ( the time you said you would arrive) to be able to conclude (judge) 'you are late'. It's a fine point but crucial to untangling what can be confusing and 'messy' situations and memories.
2)- Feelings- Again, one sentence, as best as you can. I felt (at the time) . I feel (right now) _. Search for more feelings, if feelings are hard to find try using this simple checklist- mad, sad, glad, afraid, ashamed, alone. (most words in the English language that are used to describe feelings can be interchanged with these six words (but remember this is just a checklist to help connect you to feelings, it is not a list of the only true six feelings). Avoid adding more to the feelings statements. "I feel (angry)..." or "I am sad..." is what we are looking for, "... (because you did that)" is what we do not to do.
This step helps to acknowledge that all feelings are valid and do not need to be justified. It is okay to be angry, period. It is okay to be scared, even if you don not know why. ALL feelings are valid.
3)- Judgements- This is where you link the facts with the feelings and thoughts you have about the situation and some of it gets messy and may not seem to make sense, that is okay. For instance- "You were late, you hate me, you are just like my father." may not make sense when you write it down. You may find out later that every time your father promised to do something with you as a child he showed up late, but you noticed he was always on time for your siblings. Maybe he always showed them affection when he was there for them and just sat on the couch when it was your time. So, now when people are late it triggers that same sense of rejection, etc.
This stuff gets messy, but it can be unbelievably helpful (especially if you can share it with a therapist or others). Maybe it turns out that your day with dad was his mandatory overtime day, he was forced to stay late and he was always tired after working so many hours. Being a 'strong silent type' he never said anything and didn't realized how much it affected you, he may not have been trying to hurt you, or maybe he was a drunk that hated spending time with a kid that reminded him of what he had lost.
Whatever it is, we can't untangle it until we write it down and go back later to look it all over. Again, it can look confusing and overwhelming, and it will get messy, but the goal is to link a feeling or a thought to a fact.
4) Desires (outcomes)
This is about stating what you want to get from you, for you. Expecting the world to change (because you want it to) is something well beyond our control. Finding something you can and want to do for yourself that helps resolves (even in tiny ways) what you wrote about is healing. If you find you want to tell your dad how you feel but are afraid, than recognizing there are small steps you can take to get closer to that goal is good. Maybe you can write a letter, say what you would tell him. Maybe you can just say it out loud, or tell a friend, a brother. Maybe you can say it in the mirror, or call and have lunch with your dad (wanting to say it and chickening out half a dozen times). Maybe, eventually, you can tell him, or his grave.
I did. Each and every little step counts, no matter what, it counts, even if you take a step backwards, especially if you take a step back. "Inch by inch life's a cinch, yard by yard life's very very hard." (thanks Henry for that little reminder).
 
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BDD

Registrant
Hi PRFL,

Thank you for recommending Day One. I see in the reviews it has some issues syching. Because I work from a number of devices, that is critical for me. Google Docs sychs practically instantly. I am amazed by the technology!

By default, my files are "private". As with anything on the internet I take that with a grain of salt. It is Google after all! I also don't really care. That is my personal choice.

EQCR,
I have to remember the "Four Corners" approach!
Facts, Feelings, Judgments, and Desires
Brilliant delineation.

Thank you
 

PRFL

Registrant
If you don’t mind the interface and the limitations of the free version, this would probably work for you. For now, I can do without the tags. I really don’t like the hefty subscription fee to upgrade (I think it’s like $27/year). I would have willingly paid a one time fee to upgrade, but not every year. That said, it does have a lot of nice features that I’m not getting with the app I have now.
 
I never really wrote a journal as commonly thought of, or formal in any sense of the word. At the time I was "writing", I belonged to a different online site very similar to this one. That site included a section called "free fire". When I was feeling "down", emotionally raw or just plain desperate...I would write there. Probably 99% of it was raw emotion...usually self degrading and angry. I would swear(I'm not a swearing person), degrade and self loath. Most of the posts on "my thread" were unanswered. There were pages and pages of me just ranting. But, answers to my emotional ranting was not what I was looking for. I just needed to get those emotions out of me...and that was one of the things that helped me most. I would re-read my posts...sometimes I was embarrassed for my crudeness and overall thoughts. But, that is what I was feeling at the time, and it sometimes kept me from falling completely into the darkness and despair of depression and thoughts of harming myself.

Would journaling as normally thought of have been better(everyday thoughts)? I don't know...it probably depends on the person. I do know that being able to write my thoughts and emotions as I thought and felt them did. They were not cohesive/readable in the sense that one post would pick up from the last. They were rants and the posts were random.

I too have horrible handwriting and spelling...so "typing" was easier to look back on and "see" how I was feeling at the time. To see where I was and how I felt at the time of the re-reading.

Good Luck
Greg
 
Hi PRFL,
So, for those of you that journal, what have you found to be most useful?
I'm using a technique that I find enjoyable. I write down a statement that reflects the way I'm thinking at the moment. Then I evaluate its truth or not. Then I write about where this thinking pattern may have originate (Roots). Finally I write a "Healing Statement" to reinforce a healthy direction for my thinking. I do all of this with my right (dominant) hand. With my left hand I then draw shapes and forms that come to mind. I hope this is helpful to you. I enjoy this method.
Cheers, Garth
 
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