I’ve always been a believer in journaling. As a kid I hoped that after I died, someone would compile my journals into a book that would wow the nations with the incredible adventures of a boring midwestern girl. (I think I just really wanted attention) But it’s a really good thing that didn’t happen, because man, I was really boy crazy from the ages 8 and up.
So, today, I was digging through boxes and I found a bunch of old journals.
While reading through them, I started noticing distinct patterns. Even in my penmanship style.
At the start, my writing was neat, orderly, but the tone was very critical. I made lists and promised to be a better person. The lists normally went like this.
- Do more yoga
- Read the bible more
- Organize my life
It would appear I was really concerned with somehow fixing myself, and turned to list making. As if making my bed and down-dogging would make me not feel empty inside.
Then, my entries got really preachy, and the writing was all slope-y and fancy. Like, who the hell did I think I was? I think Ispent more time practicing my penmanship than I spent actually forming thoughts. I just wrote down a bunch of bible verses and gratitudes. I wrote like I was trying to impress a governess, so who knows what I was actually thinking.
Around 2012 I started mentioning being anxious and sad.
I got a really inky pen and gave up on the pretty penmanship. I wrote with intense pressure, the ink bled through the pages, and my words were all bunched together. My thoughts were frantic and unpredictable. My previous bible verses morphed from prayers for peace into anxious and urgent requests.
“God, are you even there? Am I not faithful enough? God? Hello?”
I begged, “God, will you lift this pain from me?”
There are actual marks in my journal where my tears smeared the ink. No kidding.
As my moods spun out of control, my writing reflected the ups and downs. It was all right there.
Something was wrong. But I ignored it.
I could see from month to month that my writing was getting darker and darker.
A few weeks before I was hospitalized I wrote this.
I feel so broken.
But everything will be ok.
I am not broken.
There is something wrong inside.
And I can feel the broken parts, they are sharp and unexpected.
I can feel how disjointed it all is. How off balance. A moment from tipping.
I want to find the broken pieces, and fix them.
I want to think about them until they do not hurt.
I want to list them and know them by name.
I want to line them up and tell them what to do.
Remind them I am in control.
But what are these broken pieces?
Can they listen? Do they know?
Can they feel too? Can they feel my hate?
But if the broken pieces are in me, then they are me.
……I have decided to pull myself apart, to break to pieces what once was whole.
Why do I hate my pieces so? Why are they wrong? What did they do? Are they sad and hurting?
I’m sorry pieces. I’m sorry for making you sad.
I’m sorry for judging you.
You aren’t wrong. You can stay here with me. You don’t need fixed. You are welcome here always.
You are greatly loved, however you come.
You are welcome.
Wow. Talk about a coping mechanism.
I wish I would have paid more attention to the incredibly obvious patterns that started emerging such a long time ago. They were telling me to slow down. To ask for help. To tell someone how much I was hurting. To admit I couldn’t figure out what was wrong.
You guys, it’s all right in front of you. The patterns, the reality of your mental situation.
You can’t see it because you are in it. Right now, you are a dot on the graph. But which way is your graph trending?
So I challenge you today. Take a minute to reflect on any recent writings or drawings. Look at the music you’re listening to, both the melody and lyrics. At the people you are spending time with. The pictures on your Instagram. Your Netflix history. How are you changing? Ask a friend. A really close friend. Someone you trust. Let them analyze you, your writings, or your music. The pattern is there. The picture is being painted, and you can get an idea of the final portrait by looking in places where you express yourself naturally.
In high-school I drew pictures of gruesomely mutilated anatomically-incorrect hearts and stuck them all over my bedroom door. And I listened to Korn. No one likes Korn. Obviously a really loud cry for help. Not everyone will be that obvious. But it’s there.
Now I monitor my moods by analyzing how much I dance in the shower (happiness) or by how late I sleep in (sadness).
Is your music selection moving past melancholy into obvious sadness? Are you posting lots of pictures of food to hide the fact you’re desperately lonely? Are you spending more and more time at home because of creeping social anxiety? Are finding yourself using whiskey to forget about a bad day at work?
Do yourself a favor and deal with it now.
Have a good weekend friends.