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If You Don’t Keep a Journal, I Highly Recommend It


I was feeling sad this week so I did what I always do when I’m sad: go back and read old journal entries to try to get some perspective on my current situation.

I don’t know how to put into words what a gift my journal has been to myself. It’s a surreal experience to remember all of the events I write about but to also feel as though I am reading my story for the first time. Here are a few of the things that I have learned about myself:

1 I think I’m hilarious. Maybe no one else would laugh out loud while reading my journal, but my jokes are funny to me.

2. I have been depressed a lot. My journals are biased in that I have more to say when I’m depressed than I do when I’m happy, but still. There are a lot of journal entries.

3. I really do need to trust my intuition. Some of the things I said were downright prophetic, but I had no idea at the time I was saying something important.

4. I’m a positive person. Which seems incompatible with being someone who has been depressed for so much of her life, but the proof is right there, in writing.

It was six years ago that I had my most severe episode. Last night I was reading my entries from around that time. Below is the entry from the week before I got depressed:

March 10, 2009

OK, so I’m finally reading this book on Life Coaching that I’ve had for years, and the first exercise is to make a list of what we want out of life. That seems like a pretty good idea. So rather than using my journal for focusing on the negative, maybe I can also use it to focus on how to make my life look more like I want it to.

I want to write a book.
I want to get paid to do public speaking—the motivational kind.
I want to help people live lives that are more fulfilling.
I want to be surrounded by people who remind me of what is good about myself.
I want to continue to improve as a tennis player.
I want to continue to have time for the things that I love.
I want to keep spending time w/ my friends.
I want to get better at enduring my feelings.
I want to be a more compassionate person.
I want to have more faith in myself.
I want to have some kind of successful business that gives me more freedom.
I want to be in good shape.
I want a personal chef!
I want to continue to develop my spiritual side.
I want to be loving in all of my relationships, including w/ myself.
I want to have more money in savings.
I want to have a better sex life.
I want to be a good wife and be in a healthy marriage.
I want my brothers to be happy.
I want my friends to be happy.
I want to approach life without so much fear.
I want to feel comfortable with whatever decision I make about children.
I want my ankle to heal!
I want to be comfortable with myself.
I want to have an impact on the world.
I want all my teams to win!
I want to be able to enjoy the present for as many moments as possible.
I want to feel like an expert in something.
I want to be wise.
I want to be able to make people feel.
I want people to love me and see me as lovable.
I want to believe that I’m lovable.
I want to believe in myself more.
I want to be a good therapist and teacher.
I want to be able to have a good balance b/t being honest and helpful and being intrusive and critical.
I want to be able to ask for help when I need it and accept it lovingly when it’s given.
I want to be more forgiving.
I want to be able to let go of anger, pain, doubt, fear, anxiety, and frustration.
I want to be able to age gracefully.
I want to be able to sleep when I want to!
I want to be creative.
I want to sing.
I want to spend time with my family.
I want to be able to be more appreciative of all of the wonderful things in my life.
I want my life to be meaningful.
I want to pee!
I want to be able to follow the serenity prayer.

That pretty much sums up what my blog is about. Which brings me to the last thing that I am reminded about myself:

I am the same person I have always been, striving to be the same person I’ve always wanted to be. 

About Christy Barongan

I didn't know it at the time, but I wanted to be a psychologist so that I could figure out how to be normal. I think many people come to counseling for the same reason. What I've come to learn is that feeling good about myself is not about trying to be normal. It's about trying to be me. But it's a constant struggle for me, just like it is for everyone else. So I thought I would approach this task with openness and honesty and use myself as an example for how to practice self-acceptance.

10 responses »

  1. Borderline Med

    Oh! I thought I was the only one who did this. I skimmed iver my entire blog about two days ago and look over my diaries every now and then. Kind of makes me feel a bit macabre, reading all that past stuff. But you’re absolutely right, it’s so we can gain perspective and keep going. Plus, there’s always progress no matter how many dips we have 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maybe I should follow your example and re-read some of my journals. I have been keeping a journal for over 25 years: they are all neatly arranged in chronological order in my office but I haven’t re-read a single one. Sometimes I wonder what that says about me and my fears.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kathleen McCormick

    Loved your post. You allow yourself to be so vulnerable and are so insightful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is impossible, but there are times that I want to give up sleep, eating, visits to the bathroom all becasue I want more time to write and read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s good to love something so much that it makes you forget about everything else. I used to wish I had something like that when I was younger. I’m grateful that I do now.


      • Depends on what you define as younger.

        Before 1968, I didn’t have any idea about what I wanted in life as an adult. Then, during my first year in college in 1968, after I left the US Marines, I went to a talk in the college student union by an author that changed my life and set me on the path I have followed since.

        That author’s name was Ray Bradbury. He was 48 then and had already published 15 books. For instance, Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, The Martian Chronicles, Something Wicked This way Comes. I was 23. I didn’t talk to him, but what I heard was enough to define who I wanted to be, a writer.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Journaling, Part 2 | Normal in Training

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