I write a lot about my depression. Whether it’s in my iOS journal app Day One, or here in my blog, I often write when I’m feeling down. My psychologist suggested it to me in our early sessions, and I’ve been doing it fairly consistently for a couple of years now. I’m happy to report that for the most part, it’s been a great tool to divert myself when I’m having a bad episode.
Writing is therapeutic. It allows me to release my emotions in a healthy way, as opposed to destructive behaviors such as physical self-harm. However, when does writing cross the line from being therapeutic to being a contributing factor in me feeling even sadder?
Words are powerful tools that can either harm or heal.
Everything I write can reframe my self-perception. For instance, when I write in my journal that I am worthless or that I am insufferable, it makes me believe that it’s true, when really, that’s not the case. That’s just the depression talking.
I’ve found that writing negatively about myself affects me greatly: seeing the awful descriptive words on paper (or onscreen, as it were) makes me feel even shittier than usual. This is especially true when I say things like, “I am stupid” or “I am unlovable“. Instead, I say, “I feel stupid/unlovable” because then it does not make it true, it only describes my emotions at that time.
I’m talking about this because I see a lot of advice telling people to write as a self-care tool.
I wanted to share my experience with negative self-talk in writing because even if you just scribble it down, it can cause damage to your self-esteem, which, if you’re depressed like I am, is already pretty fragile.
What I suggest, aside from describing feelings instead of ascribing negative qualities to yourself, is trying to write the things you like about yourself. I know that’s hard when you hate yourself 100% of the time, but I’ve found that written self-affirmation works well for me. It makes me feel validated when I write about how good a friend I am, how affectionate I am towards my boyfriend, how much I care for my cat, etc. Seeing those positives about me written down gives me a new perspective, like, “Hey, maybe I’m not such a shit person after all.”