How Journaling Helps Bipolar Disorder

A woman sitting alone in nature writes in a journal.

For those suffering from bipolar disorder, much of their life is filled with chaos and the uncertainty of when they will experience another episode of mania or debilitating depression.

In a post at the health and wellness website http://www.sharecare.com, Dr. Thomas Jensen, answering on behalf of International Bipolar Foundation, states,

“The mood state that we want a bipolar person to spend as much time as possible in is the euthymic state, which translates from Latin into ‘true mood’ or normal mood.” (https://www.sharecare.com/health/bipolar-disorder/what-euthymic-state-bipolar-disorder).

Unfortunately, this “normal” euthymic state is not the predominant mood in those suffering from bipolar disorder.

In a 2002 study by Lewis L. Judd and colleagues at the University of California at San Diego, “people with bipolar I experience depression three times as often as mania. For bipolar II, the ratio of time spent in depression versus mania is a whopping 40:1.” (http://www.bphope.com/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-bipolar-depression/).

Journaling is a form of writing that goes beyond the elements of keeping a diary.

While a diary merely allows individuals to record events, writing a journal involves self-expression and creativity. “Journaling allows you to dialogue with parts of your psyche that are frozen in time,” states Laurie Nadel, Phd., and author of Zen and the Art of Windsurfing.

The art of journaling helps organize thoughts, purge the mind of mental “clutter”, and gain insight into your perceptions of your moods and life experiences- a type of creative, and safe, inner-dialog.

Journaling can be viewed as an interactive way in which individuals can process their moods and emotions. Once the words are written down on paper, the writer has power over those feelings, and they may opt to keep the pages of their journal or destroy the pages after processing and reviewing their entries.

Although writing can help everybody manage anxiety and depression, it seems particularly beneficial to the 2.6 million people over the age of 18 suffering from bipolar disorder. (National Institute of Mental Health). Often, the stigma associated with bipolar disorder (and other mental disorders) makes it challenging to find support and talk to others. Furthermore, people suffering from episodes of bipolar depression may become so debilitated by their moods that, not only will they physically isolate themselves from others, but that they may withdraw emotionally from family and friends as well.

Here are some ways to motivate yourself to keep a journal:

Integrate journaling into your daily routine

Just as you should make time to eat, bathe, and exercise each day, setting aside just a few minutes each day will help you become more disciplined recording events, as you would in a traditional diary. Journaling moves beyond keeping such records, as it allows for self-expression and creativity. However, recording events and experiences is a necessary part of the journaling process.

Choose your own method of writing in your journal. Sigmund Freud “free association” with his patients, that is, he allowed them to sit on the couch and speak of their dreams and experiences.

Free association as used in the realm of psychotherapeutic technique, allowed Freud to unlock insights from a deeper level when he engaged patients in this type of spontaneous dialog. (http://aycnp.org/Self_Help_Writing_Journaling_Mental_Health_Self_Help.php).

Control Your Audience.

Opt to share your journal with whom you trust, or share it with the world by creating a blog. Use the journal to help organize thoughts when you visit your doctor, or simply, throw away any negative entries. Once you have processed the emotions and experiences, they are yours to share or discard.

References:

What is a euthymic state in bipolar disorder? Sharecare.com. Retrieved on September 3, 2017. https://www.sharecare.com/health/bipolar-disorder/what-euthymic-state-bipolar-disorder

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About BIPOLAR DEPRESSION. BPHope.com. Retrieved on September 3. 2017. http://www.bphope.com/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-bipolar-depression/

Writing Your Way Out of Depression. WebMD.com. Retrieved on September 3, 2017. http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/writing-your-way-out-of-depression#1

Journaling For Mental Health Self-Help. AYCNP.org. Retrieved on September 3, 2017. http://aycnp.org/Self_Help_Writing_Journaling_Mental_Health_Self_Help.php

Journaling For Mental Health. Urmc.rochester.edu. Retrieved on September 3, 2017. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=4552

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2 thoughts on “How Journaling Helps Bipolar Disorder

  1. Wow thanks for sharing the interesting links. As one who has greatly struggled before with generalized anxiety disorder, I can say journaling has been one of my biggest helps. It lets me process my thoughts/feelings and kind of start to get out of my head. It helps me observe my anxious state and not just be crushed by it.

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    1. I strongly agree with you about the therapeutic aspect of just pouring the thoughts out of the mind onto paper. I’ve found that, after writing in my journal, my mind is ready to take in new information- like from reading a good book with new and useful ideas. Thanks for stopping by!

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