Depression and anxiety,  Mental health,  Writing

When does writing about depression make it worse?

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, journal
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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.”

Ela is a twentysomething who is constantly getting stuck in self-destructive behavior and bouts of low self-esteem. She struggles with depression and writes to relieve herself of her feelings. Sometimes she even blogs about other things like makeup and positivity. One of her pieces was published in the Inquirer Young Blood in October 2017. She likes cats, dogs, and sometimes even people.

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