Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why I Journal

For a good decade or so, I went about my life in a tunnel. I could only see one short step ahead and when I dared to dream, I’d be crushed when it collapsed or worse yet, evaporated like a fine mist in a desert summer. I drank heavily. I slept away most of my free time. I was glued to the television. I was short-tempered and cried easily. And through it all, I stayed married, raised my daughter, kept employed and paid my bills. It was hell. It was hell for my family, too. What it was that prompted me to pick up a notebook in the drugstore one day, I don’t know. But that simple purchase is what saved my life. I’m convinced of it.

I started writing. The great American novel it surely was not. To be honest, I don’t remember what I wrote. Where I wrote, I can tell you. I wrote everywhere. I wrote at work when everyone was gone and my duties were done. I wrote while sitting on a sidewalk curbing waiting for my daughter to get out of school. I wrote at the bus stop and on the bus. I wrote in the living room late at night when I couldn’t sleep. I wrote at home, at the library, and once I even wrote in the middle of a store while shopping.

I wrote myself to a place where I could consult my doctor, then to a therapist who told me I was already doing what I needed to be doing. Several years later, I wrote myself off the medication that the doctor prescribed. I took journaling classes, too. They taught me there is only one rule for journaling: there are no rules. Just write.

I’m not cured of depression by any means. No, depression is like other diseases, alcoholism and drug addiction, in that you take it one day at a time. My coping mechanism is my journal. My journal is my life.