Patient Blogs | Schizophrenia
How Keeping a Journal Helps Me Manage My Schizophrenia
photo of woman writing in journal

At times, due to my diagnosis, I have racing thoughts that if not kept in check can spiral out of control. I have at times become lost in thought and will isolate myself from my friends, family, and life in general. As my thoughts fester, my paranoia increases, causing me to lose my grip on reality. My auditory hallucinations become louder and my delusions increase. It’s at this point that I need to refocus my mind. While I use a wide variety of coping skills, one that has stood out for me is journaling. 

I began journaling in 2013 as a way to get in touch with my feelings and found that it helped me to refocus my mind. I found writing down my racing or intrusive thoughts, then reading my journal entries out loud, helped me to identify justified suspicions and irrational thoughts. In essence, it gave me the power to test reality. This practice has made it easy for me to be honest about my paranoia. My journaling provides me a safety net where I can vent without judgment. 

Journaling allows me to think more clearly. It gives me a way to look at situations and my relationships more objectively. More importantly, I am able to look over my thoughts and emotions in a broader perspective. This way, I can keep myself in check. I can tell when I am beginning to struggle with symptoms and address them early on so I can keep stable. 

I normally do not share my journal entries with anyone, but I do use it as a tool during therapy. At times, I will share my journal entries with my therapist. I do this as a way to gain a better perspective on what I have written. My therapist acts as a sounding board and helps me to process what I may be going through. 

Journaling is not a cure-all in my mental health recovery process and does not replace any medication that I am prescribed. It is a coping mechanism that has helped me immensely. I find that not only can I journal without judgment, but I can track my feelings, thoughts, emotions, sleep patterns, stressors, and symptoms. I can also track improvements in medication management and healthy habits that are working to keep me well. It really helps me to monitor my condition.   

When I started my journaling journey, I felt a little overwhelmed because I did not know where to begin, so I started out small with only a few sentences. I do my best to journal every day and sometimes I may fall off, but I always pick it back up. I have noticed that I feel better when I do journal. It is my way to promote perspective as well as encourage self-care. I feel like I have accomplished something, and it bolsters my self-esteem and inspires self-acceptance. 

I would encourage anyone with schizophrenia to try journaling as a way to help manage symptoms, track medication, and practice self-care. It is another coping skill you can try, and journaling can be an effective way. Start small at first and build from day to day. There are even guided journals that have prompts to help one get started. What is great about creating your journal is that you can write about anything you want. These are your thoughts and feelings, and no one can take them away for you.   



Photo Credit: nortonrsx via Getty Images

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Lisa Guardiola

Lisa Guardiola

Diagnosed since 2004

Lisa Guardiola has been living with schizophrenia for 17 years. Passionate about helping others with mental illness, Guardiola is a community outreach and education trainer for the Sertoma Centre and the Vice President of NAMI South Suburbs of Chicago, where she leads educational and training initiatives. She loves journaling, oil painting, and spending time with her family and cat Loki. Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.

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