Readers of my blog know that writing has been one of my life-savers. A journal, kept from the age of 12, was a friend, confidant and
haven as I passed from childhood to adolescence, to adulthood. It was a place where I put pen to paper in an effort to make sense of the eating disorder torment, anxiety and depression swirling in my brain. Later, the experiences shared in those journals became A Girl Called Tim. I’m always excited to learn that others are finding writing helpful, too, and today Daniella, who has an engineering degree, shares her story on the therapeutic power of the written word. After struggling with an eating disorder for almost a decade, for the past seven months she has been determinedly focused on recovery. Daniella writes: “I have never been a writer. In fact, I haven’t had any sort of English class in years. (But) A little over a month ago I started a blog. I did it for me 100 per cent as in my recovery I have realized that I am much better at writing out my feelings and thoughts and seeing them on paper.”
My therapist asked me to start journaling. I had spent year’s pushing down feelings, emotions and thoughts and she figured that it would be a good constructive way to get a lot of it out; much better than my current self destructive methods. At first I not only turned it down but I laughed at the idea. I thought journaling was for teenagers who had way too much time on their hands and wanted to complain, and I was an adult with a busy schedule and no time to meddle in that non-sense. (Please forgive me; I used to be very judgmental).
Writing: a Cleanser of the Soul
After a lot of persuasion, I finally decided to give writing a go. Once I hit the pen to the paper I couldn’t stop. Years of pain, anger, frustration, resentment, hurt and struggles flowed out of me like water. It actually really scared me at first. I started reading these long journal entries in therapy and it allowed me to open up in ways that I had never done before. While writing, I could put everything out on the paper in a much clearer format, as opposed to trying to speak about painful experiences and things that I had spent years avoiding and keeping to myself. It not only helped my therapist help me, but it showed me that I really had a lot to say.
For years, I kept everything that I thought and felt to myself and began to believe that what I had to say didn’t matter. I mirrored and adopted what other people were doing because I thought they knew a secret that had never been shared to me. I struggled in silence because I feared of my “secret” getting out. I feared what people would think if they knew that I had “problems” (Suffered from an eating disorder, depression and anxiety etc.) and wasn’t the perfect package that everyone seemed to see on the outside.
Writing: a Silence-breaker
Through writing I have been able to share my story and my recovery process. I have shared my struggles as well as my triumphs, along with everything in between. I have written posts in times of hope and also in times of despair. I have been completely honest, vulnerable and written about a lot of subjects that make me truly uncomfortable. I have used humor and sarcasm to discuss some pretty hard things, as I believe that laughter is the best medicine. I have completely put myself, my life and my recovery process on the line for all to see and scrutinize. I have gained confidence in myself and even in my ability to write. I have broken down the barrier between who everyone thought I was and who I really am. I have found my voice, which had been silenced for many years. And I have done this all for ME!
Through my blog, I have reconnected with old family members and friends and have gained a stronger sense of myself. There is something incredibly freeing about putting yourself out there. I have received emails and messages of encouragement and support from people that I didn’t really except it from and have gained irreplaceable friendships.
Writing: a provider of Personal Space
Writing hasn’t made my recovery any easier. It doesn’t make the food any less grueling or any of the work less painful. It isn’t a magical cure by any means. But it has helped me in ways that words can’t even describe.
First and foremost, I write for myself; to put my thoughts and feelings on paper in order to make sense of them all, to create a personal space that is just my own, to remind myself of how far I’ve come and why I continue down the path that I do, to show the world that it’s ok to struggle and ask for help, to remind those out there who are struggling in silence that IT CANT GET BETTER and more importantly to end the silence, shame and stigma around eating disorders. With all that said, I really hope that my writing encourages others. I hope that by sharing my journey I can show people that talking and opening up about eating disorders and other mental illnesses is not only okay, but necessary. There is no shame in having an eating disorder and this isn’t something that you or I chose.
Eating disorders are illnesses, not choices. By writing and sharing my story, I hope that I can inspire and educate others. The hard work involved in recovery is completely worth it. Through writing I am becoming the genuine person that I have always aspired to be. I am still the daughter, girlfriend, friend, athlete and hard worker that everyone has always known but now I have a voice. I plan to use this newfound voice for myself and to help others. Through writing I have gained a better understanding of myself and that beats silence any day.
Writing: a de-fuser of thoughts
I use writing as a way to sort my thoughts, especially when I am faced with problems. Just the other day my roommate went on a diet and proceeded to tell me all about it. Instead of allowing this to disrupt my recovery or giving me an excuse to give into eating disorder behaviors, I wrote a post about rejecting the diet mentality and how I feel about diets and how my thoughts have changed since entering recovery. This allowed me to get my thoughts and fears onto paper, without me being rude to her for her choices or disrupting my recovery. When I get anxious or find that the ED voice is getting loud again, I stop myself and write for a little bit to try and uncover and decode the thoughts behind all of it.
Writing: a sorter of thoughts
1. The ability to get out of my own head (when I write ED rules and beliefs out on paper, I am able to see their irrationally).
2. A healthy place to sort out my feelings (I wasn’t really ever taught a healthy way to cope with feelings and emotions and have spent so many years numbing them out that some times they scare me and I get overwhelmed. Writing helps me process and work through them easier.)
3. A way to communicate with others who are trying to help me (when I was growing up, my family never discussed emotions or problems in my house or anything negative for that matter, so sometimes I still struggle with talking about anything that isn’t positive. Writing it out helps me communicate when I am unable to coherently speak about things in person).
4. A good distraction (sometimes when anxiety hits and eating disorder behaviors seem like a great way to control it, writing helps me distract myself from doing anything destructive).
Writing: an inspiration
I write at a bunch of different times. When I started journaling I did it daily because I was so out of touch with my feelings that I needed to set aside time to actually do it. When I started my blog, being the perfectionist that I am, I thought that I needed to have something good to say every day so I posted every morning. Now it really is random. I write when I feel inspired to do so. Sometimes it’s because I am anxious or stressed about some thing and other times it’s because it’s fun or something inspires me. Sometimes I write five times in one day whereas other times I can go a few days without writing anything.
To share more in Daniella’s inspiring journey go to her blog.