Last night a journal saved my life

“There’s not a problem that I can’t fix, coz I can do it in the… Filofax.”

True as that may be, we’re getting ahead of ourselves a little. Let’s perform a little DJ backspin trick and rewind the story.

It is true that I started keeping a diary as a confused 13yo, after being introduced to the modern-day Samuel Pepys at school. Mine and Adrian Mole’s birthdays are just a few months apart and I have always felt a certain kinship to him, quite apart from being the only person (other than Adrian himself) who recognises Adrian as the greatest poet in the English language. After reading his first diary I started one of my own, and I kept it semi-religiously for the next decade.

I wasn’t really keeping it for journaling reasons back then, at least not intentionally. Looking back I wonder whether it drifted that way at times, but I think mostly I was keeping track of girls (and records) I really liked at the under 18s disco on a Monday night. Which seems like a good excuse to drop this one, a tune that I chucked out a few shapes to on more than one occasion at said disco:

I didn’t start journaling in earnest until three years ago. I was seeing a therapist over my depression, anxiety, body and gender issues and it was she who suggested it. We talked through the Johari Window exercise and at first I started with that, but then wandered off in true free association style into Whatever The Smeg Was On My Mind. That became the basis of our sessions; I would read back over what I’d written since our last session, pick out parts I felt were important, and that’s what we would talk about. I found it tremendously helpful to be in control of the sessions that way.

I was actually very excited to start writing though. I’d always found it fun when Adrian and I were writing at the same time, I just wasn’t at all prepared for the effect it would have on me in every sense. In many ways, this blog simply became my public journal and it’s no coincidence that the personal entries on the blog are all categorised as ‘journal’. It’s right there on the menu bar. Some- many – of the thoughts expressed under that heading are sentiments that I first formulated by hand, or rather in handwriting, in the pages of my Filofax.

So I thought, if it was quite okay with you, I would share three of my tips from that time in case you find yourself in a similar circumstance. I can’t promise they will all work for everyone, because everyone’s experience of therapy and journaling is different and quite right too. But just in case they do, here they are.

Use a refillable notebook

That’s where the Filofax comes in. One of the reasons I’d previously decided against joining Fetlife was because they don’t have “stationery” as one of their fetishes and seriously, who can resist the allure of a brand new notebook? I bought one of the refillable Filofax Notebooks with an exciting assortment of different refills and never looked back because I discovered this: if you’ve written something you find difficult or triggering, you can quickly move it to a different part of the notebook. You don’t have to tear it out or lose it, you can just move it. You can also, when you run out of space, remove the pages you won’t want to refer to in future and just save the ones you need to. It sounds like a little thing but trust me, they’re the things that can make a difference.

Use the third person

True story; I came out to myself in my journal. It was something I had simply refused to countenance before, any sort of attraction to persons of the gender that I was born with. And I didn’t, not at first. I wrote this long, rambling, half story/half fantasy and I think halfway through I knew that one of the male protagonists in an MMF scene was me, but I carried on writing it anyway. After that, I knew. So I guess my tip here would be to write in the third person, if you need to. If you think that your truth is going to be difficult, ascribe it to a third party and just write away.

Just get it out

That’s my handwriting there in the picture which prompts me to make the final point – whatever is inside, just get it out of you and onto the page. Don’t censor yourself (this is very important). Don’t worry about doing multiple drafts, engaging a professional reader, or even making sure that your handwriting is legible to others. If you make a mistake, just put a line through and carry on. The important thing is just to get your thoughts out on paper, because in the writing is where the magic occurs.

And that’s the thought that I want to leave you with. There are plenty of more academic and better written articles available on the web about the scientific process behind journaling and I challenge you to find a better bum on any of them. The main thing to say is that journaling works, and whether it’s suggested to you by a professional or something you’ve considered yourself, is worth taking seriously.


8 replies on “Last night a journal saved my life”

OMG, stationery is TOTALLY a fetish! *laugh*

Every time I’ve moved house, I astound myself at how much paper product has managed to fill all the available drawers in my house. I’m especially fond of art cards and Christmas greeting cards, but I have lined paper and letter-writing paraphernalia galore.

(I also have a gift-wrap fetish. Lol. I have at least 15 rolls of Christmas wrapping paper stored in my closet!)

A n y w a y

Your tip about move-able pages is one I’ve never heard before. But the idea of not deleting/shredding something and instead just *moving* it… It makes a lot of sense! 🙂

Liked by 1 person

First of all: YES on notebooks. I love pen and paper, and love the feel of a new notebook. Even so, I could never get into writing my thoughts, my fears, my desires in a book. I have tried many times, but never succeeded. Wrote one or two lines and just stared at the page. Even when I had to do it for therapy. But strangely enough, writing on screen works well, although I do keep my deeper and darker thoughts away from my blog. Maybe I should just write them down, even if it’s only one line at a time.

Thank you for sharing your tips 🙂

~ Marie

Liked by 1 person

The refillable tip is such a good one. I would have never thought of that. Writing in third person helps me too. My counsellor often points out that I talk like that too when we speak and he’s trying to make me more aware that I’m talking about myself lol. It’s interesting how you came out to yourself like that. It does help to approach things indirectly. Makes it slightly less daunting.

Liked by 1 person

Charlie – so much here to which I relate! In particular Adrian (he features in my post too!). The stationery addiction is also one I embrace! When you first said ‘removable pages I resisted – No, attractive notebooks all the way! But detailing why, I can see how helpful and cathartic following your tips would be.
I’m so glad journalling has helped you make sense of and embrace your thoughts and desires (I love how you throw a bit of music in too!). A really strong post which I’m sure will empower many. Thumbs up for the bum endorsed with words image too.


Some useful tips, I have found it is the act of writing that is so much more than the finished written piece. It helps me discover more about how I’m feeling and helps me remember. I’m glad it has been of importance to you.

Liked by 1 person

Stationary as a fetish…haha, but I totally get that. I buy more notebooks than I could possibly need in this lifetime and sometimes, I don’t like what’s out there so I make my own.

Your picture is stunning! I saw it on Twitter and immediately, went onto WordPress to read your post.

Liked by 1 person

Wow. First of all I absolutely LOVE this picture of you and it was worth visiting the post simply for the pleasure of that, but I also love the content of your post. I have often compared my blog to a journal as I use it to work through and process a lot of what I am feeling. I have made so many discoveries about myself through writing on there but I also acknowledge that writing for an audience does mean that I hold back at times. I really like your tips and reading this has made me think that an actual journal is something that I might start. I had not considered writing in third person but this is an interesting idea. And moveable pages? That is gold! I hate when I mess something up so that would totally work for me.

Thank you for sharing 😊

Liked by 1 person

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