Why you should use journaling and diet to support your wellbeing

Why you should use journaling and diet to support your wellbeing

By Dale Darley

Why you should use journaling and diet to support your wellbeing

I was intrigued to read the BBC report that antidepressants have been proven to work in a trial of 116,477 people against a placebo. The report goes onto say that more people would benefit from taking the drugs.

I carried on reading with trepidation. What else would this report conclude I wondered?

Having recently been told that I have osteoporosis, I’ve become acutely aware of the drug pushers (natural and pharma) who peddle their wares to stop this disease. What has been heartbreaking for me is the utter confusion, overwhelm and despair I have seen in the forums. People are beyond hope. They have tried the drugs, and their bodies continue to fail. Not all bodies but enough to scare me. And that’s the point people are trying things, without an assessment and overall plan.

In this case, I’ve read reports from some of the medical profession who do not like that people are taking matters into their own hands and are looking at more natural methods.

I keep reading that osteoporosis cannot be cured and this makes me angry because you are already setting people up for failure. We need hope, not despair at times like this.

This mentality goes across the board.

Don’t get me wrong I adore science, and the way that medicine has progressed is incredible. We are discovering amazing things every day, but are we creating a world of dependency on being fixed?

Antidepressants like the osteoporosis drugs have their place. I’ve taken Prozac, and it was a tough decision, but I felt as if I’d explored every avenue.

Depression, anxiety and smacks in the face can affect anyone.

Back in my late 40’s, I found myself in the doctor office complaining that despite the many miles I walked every day with my dog, I couldn’t breathe. He gave me space to pour out my worries.

In our discussion, we covered the past, who I was living with, what the relationship was like, work and my health.

For two years I’d struggled with sleep and had tried everything I could think of – you name it, I’d tried it. I handed over a long list of things, he laughed and then more solemnly said, it is no wonder you have anxiety given the life experiences you have had. He handed me a prescription for antidepressants, and I felt a failure.

Not long after, I began to sleep, and I felt less wound up. Inside I felt shame that I had given in. Then through journaling, it became clear that a) I wasn’t a failure and b) this was an opportunity to get on track and c) I needed a strategy for using them and an exit strategy.

Journaling has the power to change lives

It felt as is my journal had a new lease of life. Journaling has been in my life for as long as I can remember. It has saved my life on many occasions, and I saw this as something that needed urgent and special attention.

In my journaling, I became acutely aware of what I was eating and how that was making me feel. I’d started monitoring the anti-depressants and noticed a switch to focus on my heart, soul, body and diet.

Journaling helped me to change my diet

Antidepressants made me feel foolish, but they kicked me into action. I enrolled in a naturopathic nutrition course and made big changes. At this time I was a BIG action taker, but not a right action taker. I took everything out of my diet, lost masses of weight – far too much, and that was not clever. However, as I took the course and learned a new way to eat, I amended my diet, and I started to feel good. Life suddenly felt brighter, and I was getting good quality sleep.

What was also apparent was that I didn’t love me and I couldn’t look in the mirror. It would be in my mid 50’s when I learned to love me and when journaling and writing a book supported me in finding myself and that long overdue self-love.

Journaling helped me to see that I was wound up

The more that I explored myself, diet and life, I could see how I had become so wound up, and the relationship I was in was not supporting me. But I felt trapped, so I stayed. To support me I worked with a cranial osteopath, and she helped me to unwind my system. As she treated me, my writing flowed and so did my body. After a while, I was able to start the planned exit strategy.

All was well until…

Sometime later, we moved in my husband’s almost 90-year old mother who had dementia. It was hard living with a bully and a woman who hated me. I reached for the anti-depressants again. I couldn’t cope, he couldn’t care less, and I wanted to be coshed. I hated my life.

One Christmas we took his mum to Spain, or I should say I got the job of taking an old woman with dementia and poor toilet habits in a wheelchair on an aeroplane.  I coped because that’s what I do. To make matters worse, my house was not suitable for her. I wanted to kill myself. I figured I was already dead inside and who would care.

One night I knew it was the end, I Googled how to kill yourself painlessly. That scared me. Instead, I found myself staring at a journal and I wrote as if my life depended on it. Sense prevailed. I still felt hollow, but now I could see a bit more clearly.

After her death, I weaned myself off and tried to get back to some normality.

Something came out of the writing; it was like I was divinely nudged. I headed to the doctors to discover that all along the reason I wasn’t sleeping was that I’d had an overactive thyroid and through dietary changes, I had resolved it.

Thank you diet and journaling.

Looking back through the journals I could see how I’d become controlled and how unknown, unresolved health and lifestyle issues had eroded my ability to fully function.

Fast forward to today and how journaling and diet has supported my growth

I left the husband a few years ago now. Life has been quite tough on my own, but with each challenge, I’ve used two primary tools, lifestyle changes and journaling.

In 2016 I was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid again. I’d taken my eye off the ball, but due to my good diet, I wasn’t feeling the effects. I’d just got a message through my journaling to get a well woman check up – so I obeyed the great pen.

When in 2018 I suffered compression fractures (and a lot of pain) which led to a discovery of osteoporosis I leant into my journal and reached out for help. I’ve changed my diet and lifestyle again, and yes you guessed it, I have a dedicated journal for this journey. This is the subject of my next book – Osteoporosis and Me.

Journaling can help you to make conscious decisions

I won’t be reaching for antidepressants and believe you me; I feel angry that I have this. I could use drugs to take away these feelings, but I know that although they are great for temporary support (other peoples may experience vary), I can deal with this through diet, meditation, exercise and journaling. I believe that I have the power to create personal change. I love myself enough to make the requisite changes, however tough they may be.

I also feel angry that I am being pushed through the sausage factory approach to osteoporosis. But I will not be driven by medical research that while amazing I believe does not wholly serve me right now. The statistics and methodologies are not always based in reality and wholeness.

The BBC report goes on to show that there is compelling evidence. Every drug has persuasive proof until it is withdrawn because it causes more deaths or illnesses, doesn’t it? Or is that me being cynical?

This compelling evidence means that doctors can prescribe the right drug because at least 1million other people could benefit.  Ka-ching! You do the numbers. Or is that me being cynical again?

Of course, they conclude anti-depressants shouldn’t be the first form of treatment; they should consider other psychological therapies.

We are missing the point, aren’t we?

We are not just our minds, we are bodies and souls and couldn’t a more holistic approach be considered? One that combines science with natural methods?

Diet, lifestyle, exercise, meditation, visualisation, asking for help, learning to love yourself and understanding how you got to this point so that you can move through it with things like journaling. These are what I consider to be a better way – a harder way, possibly, but in the longer term a way that works for me.

Of course, we want to be fixed. I want my spine to be mended. However, I want to do it in the way described above, and I am willing with every fibre of my body to do it. Yes, I am taking supplements, alongside dietary changes under advisement from a naturopathic nutritionist. I know that these too are drugs in the wrong hands, but I will not take prescription drugs unless I have explored every other avenue and they are my last hope.

I am not against anti-depressants or any other drug, but what I’d like to see, as I have said is a holistic approach, so that they are used as a temporary intervention. I know it’s hard to change diet and lifestyle. However, it can be exciting as you explore new ways of being.

Currently, I am exploring new recipes; yesterday I made a healthy banana bread using only things I can eat.I even caught my dogs liking the bowl behind my back and later when I was sampling it one of them nicked a piece. Along with the bread, I also made a delicious lentil shepherds pie thing accompanied by masses of green stuff. Trying out new green juices is exciting – do not have celery on its own – ug! It is delightful to come through the detox stage and start to feel human, for the pain to naturally subside as you deal with inflammation naturally and not with anti-inflammatory drugs.

The body is incredible, and it can heal – if you support it and believe that it can.

Journaling can help you find yourself and help you to inspire others

I started a new journal as soon as this latest thing happened. Why? I knew that I was in for an adventure and that I would discover more about me. I knew that what I learned as I went along would help others. This is what you can do. Use your journaling to find you, get clarity and use it to store your feelings, action and wisdom.

Your story could help save someone else’s life. Think about that. Imagine what it would be like to inspire someone else to embrace change?

You may not feel like it now. You may be at your wits end; you may want to reach for whatever drug is available. It doesn’t matter what you do. Do what is right for you at this moment. But please consider some of what I have said and while you go through these experiences write, capture everything and use it to help others. Use journaling to find you and to get some clarity so that you can work with the professionals that you choose to make good choices.

Journaling and writing is a journey with your soul; writing can help you to heal.  Everyone who writes at some level moves on. Your pen has a deep connection with you and if you allow the words to flow you will discover alchemy.

Writing in a journal can help you to escape and face this passage into a new life and the next part of your soul’s journey.

Start today, get a journal, get lots of journals and put them beside your bed. Journal when you go to bed and when you wake up. You don’t have to write reams, just let it come as it wants to.

Let me leave you with some final thoughts. We are in this together; please look around you, one of your friends could be where I was. You might be there now. Please reach out, lend an ear and give them the gift of a journal.

If you have a story that you need to tell and a book you want to write, please do connect with me and lets chat.

Resources

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/feb/21/the-drugs-do-work-antidepressants-are-effective-study-shows

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-43143889

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jbmr.2888/full

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About the Author

Strategist, Coach, writer and author. Helping you to make sense of your ideas and personal stories so that you can create simple strategic direction and design the right products and services for your business. Mum to three dogs and a family of swallows. Life without cake is a life unlived.

  • Esther+Nagle says:

    Oh my goodness, what a powerful piece Dale! You really do make a compelling case for the healing power of journaling as a way to help us listen to our inner wisdom. It is astounding how much we really know within us, but we don’t know how to listen.

    Reading this has made me want to really up my game in my own journaling practice – I had often have insights when I do my morning pages, and I know that when I did the yoga teacher training that got me sober I had some life changing moments of revelations, but I don’t often give myself enough time to really explore the insights I get I think, perhaps I will follow your advice and take my notebook to my bedroom and write in it before I get out of bed and get to my yoga mat – it would help me to wake up more and enjoy my morning Yoga practice more as well I am sure!

    Thank you for this amazing piece of writing

    • Dale Darley says:

      Exploring our insights is quite amazing. I know when I go back and read stuff I am like wow did I write that, did I think that? And of course it’s great to be able to go back and look at what you write as support for a book.

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