What To Include In An Illness Journal

Here is a list of things a person may wish to include in his/her illness journal:

  •  Medication Chart
  • Social Safety Net
  • Current Medical Information (Doctor’s and Specialist’s Information, Appointments, Names and Contact Numbers of Mental Health Providers, etc.)
  • Entries about daily dealings with one’s illness and how one copes
  • Journal anything one learns about one’s illness (New breakthroughs in the scientific field of Psychiatry, New Medications, New Treatments, etc.)
  • How much progress one’s mental healthcare providers feel one has made or how one has declined
  • Poetry, Drawings, Stories, Pictures, Stickers, Magazine Articles, Postcards, Ribbons, Stamps, Pretty Patterned Paper, Scribbled Lines, Scattered Phrases, Newspaper Letters, Scraps of Material, Buttons, Wool, Tin Foil, Confetti, Nail Polish, Lip Stick, Labels Off Products, Bus Tickets, Concert Tickets, Hair, Letters From Significant People, Cards, Anything one can do to express what is going on inside oneself
  • One’s thoughts and personal breakthroughs in one’s emotional journey to stability
  • Dreams, thoughts, random ideas, hopes and desires for the future, activities during the day, travels and significant events, relationships, disappointments, likes, dislikes, what one would do if one won the lottery, one’s bond with one’s cat or dog, the weather and how it effects one.
  • Explore topics related to significant issues in life/therapy
  • Write about prominent emotions related to significant issues in life/therapy
  • Discuss issues one is currently dealing with
  • If one is haunted by a dream or plaguing thoughts write them down, this will help resolve these issues in one’s mind.
  • If there is something a person cannot reveal to his/her healthcare provider or anyone else because of fear or embarrassment but he/she desperately needs to unload this burden off his/her chest he/she should write it in the journal.  He/She should explore his/her feelings that surround it, how he/she feels about it, how did it come about, why it happened, why he/she feels this way, write about his/her deepest emotions.

Some Tips:

  • Don’t let the stark white page glaring back at you intimidate you.
  • Use anything one wants to create an illness journal, a scribbler, a binder, a special diary, an art book, or scattered pieces of loose leaf
  • Use any kind of writing utensil one wishes, a pen, a fountain pen, a pencil, a crayon, colored pencil
  • Don’t let oneself get too caught up with grammar, penmanship, spelling, punctuation, whether you can write well, or if your page is pretty to look at.  One can scribble all over it if one likes.
  • Don’ self-edit.  Leave everything as is.  One shouldn’t go back and tear out pages or erase, blot out, or mark up anything he/she has entered into a journal.  It was expressed and it is legitimate.  Just turn the page and keep writing.
  • Privacy is crucial.  Make sure that when one is creating a journal of any kind one establishes a firm understanding with those who may come in contact with it that it is a confidential item.  No one is allowed to read its contents unless given express permission by the author.  Perhaps the author of the journal should place a label on it stating that it is a private diary please respect the author’s privacy and do not read without his/her permission.
  • Keep the journal in a secure place, out of a high traffic area.  But, make sure it is not difficult to access for ease of use.
  • Find a place to write that is conducive to journaling.  It should be free of interruptions, private, and calming.
  • Do not reveal entries to people who may manipulate or harm you with the information they may glean from them.  For example, an abused and battered victim should not show their abuser their journal.
  • One should only reread entries if one finds it a constructive and a positive activity. Don’t reread entries if one finds them disturbing and if they cause one to act on urges of self-harm.
  • Set aside time every day or ever so often to focus on one’s journal.  Don’t press oneself, just relax into it, this is not a military regime.  One can do it when one wakes up in the morning or before one goes to bed.  One can spend two minutes or an hour, however much time one has the energy for.  One can write in his/her journal any time of the day and as many times as one wants.  One may only journal when he/she feels stable and good in one’s life, or only when one needs a place to vent and then stop completely.  It is all up to the person how he/she wishes to journal, he/she may end up being a life timer, the choice is up to him/her.  One can skip a day, month, even a year.
  • Don’t rush yourself, give yourself lots of time to think and write
  • Explore your issues inside and out, don’t leave a stone unturned

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