Keeping a JOURNAL during the process of healing is very important. I know many of you get scared of a blank page starring back at you or some of you might be thinking, “are you off your rocker?, I don’t want to remember this.” I imagine that you are having feelings and through ts that are at times overwhelming. I also imagine that your head is spinning in many directions at once. As a person in treatment you have entered a territory that you have never explored and you have already experienced a lot of trauma as a result. A JOURNAL becomes your friend, confident, and safe place.
- A JOURNAL invites you to tell “it” all about whatever is going on inside of you.
- You can tell your JOURNAL anything. If you choose a composition book instead of a pretty hard-back JOURNAL you can even tear out the pages that scare you when you re-read it.
- Your JOURNAL becomes your witness to your life. Because of the personal trauma that is involved in treatment, there are going to be some days that become a blur and many details that you will not remember later. You may find yourself thinking three years from now, “what was the big deal?”
- Your JOURNAL witnessed this very big deal and will recount it to you for years to come.
- A JOURNAL is a way of witnessing and validating your strength, your courage, and your scary places.
Having a diagnosis of breast cancer, is like you have been hit on the head with the window in the Wizard of Oz and have found yourself in a strange land where flying monkeys taunt you and a wicked witch wants your dog (intuition) and your red shoes(a symbol of your inner magic).
Writing every day, even if it is a one word entry such as “hopeless,” will help you keep track of your journey and provide you with stepping stones along the way. Here are some journal exercise examples:
- Feel free to just record a word every day for those of you who cannot imagine writing a whole page. Another way to get that blank page to warm up is to write letters. You can write letters to yourself, your God, your friends and family members.
- Letter writing in a JOURNAL is safe because you are never going to send it. You will not have to edit what you say. You can tell it like it is. If you think a friend has let you down in this process, journal that feeling out in a letter.
- If you think someone who you never expected has stepped up to the plate in wonderful ways, gush out your thanks and gratitude. Let your tears of gratitude flow.
- Whatever it is that you wish you could tell your friends or family about this journey but just can’t quite find the courage to tell them, write it in your JOURNAL.
Having a safe and private place to write your most intimate feelings is so important because so much is going through your head and clouding your heart right now. You are in survivor’s mode and the brain is not able to process it all. That is why your JOURNAL becomes your written record. A year after treatment, re-read it and you will be surprised how much you actually went through on this journey. If you have not ever journaled before now is a great time to start. If you are a regular journal writer, then make sure you keep it up at this time.
Dr. Robin B. Dilley, author of In A Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer is a licensed psychologist in the State of Arizona. Her eclectic practice allows her to cross diagnostic barriers and meet clients in their need assisting them to respond to life in healthy and empowering ways rather than react to life’s circumstances.