The Healing Power of Journalling with Karman Tse
Karman Tse: I used to keep a diary when I was a teenager. They were mostly jejune accounts about friends and crushes, and my dreamy attempt at songwriting. It wasn’t until 2017 that I started to journal intentionally. There’s a saying that goes, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. I was about 10 years into my battle with clinical depression around that time. I remember waking up one morning with an unusual clarity. “I can’t live this life anymore,” I thought. “I won’t go on living like an emotional zombie. I don’t know how, but I have to make it stop.” That was when I decided that I was willing to try anything, other than more meds, to get myself out of that state of non-being, of non-living.
Soon after that morning, I was introduced to Angela, an energy healer (who has since become a dear friend) who introduced me to the “Morning Pages”. She gave me a book, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, which details the hows and whys of this method of journalling. I gave it a go without resistance. After all, I write for a living, so it kind of felt natural to write for a-healing. Within the first three weeks, I had revelations through the pages that would become the starting point of my journey to recovery.
I have been journalling since. While the “what” of journalling remains the same — physical journal, handwritten — the “why” and “how” vary and evolve depending on what I need each day. One morning I’d be “downloading” cacophonous thoughts and feelings that aren’t necessarily useful or true — it’s an exercise in mental and emotional detoxification. Another morning, I’d be listing what I’m grateful for. Or else it’s a manifesto of how my ideal day will be, or affirmations.
I also write to make sense of difficult feelings and situations. To release toxic or stuck energies. To find answers, solutions and inspiration. Once in a while, the journal serves as a safe space where I’d write a letter to myself, or to someone to say what I never had the chance or courage to say before — and burn them afterwards to let it all go, symbolically and energetically.
BA: How often do you journal?
KT: There are bound to be the occasional “off days” when I’d either tell myself I have no time for it, or when I’d choose to not deal with my feelings, but barring those, I do this every morning, usually before or at sunrise. Then my day begins.
BA: How has it helped and benefitted you in your mental and emotional wellbeing, and in your healing?
KT: For me, it has been a life-saver. As I said, journalling was the beginning of my healing journey. It gives me clarity on cloudy days, shifts me out of dark places, rewards me with creative ideas, offers me new perspectives, helps me get to the root of why I’d feel or behave in ways that are out of alignment with my better self, placates my inner critic, et cetera.The benefits vary from day to day, but in essence, the journal is my therapist and confidante.
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