When I first began keeping a journal, quite a few years ago now, I started out with the lofty notion that perhaps one day my wise and wonderful journal writings would be published throughout the world for everyone’s praise and enjoyment. At the time I’d been reading several famous journals and diaries that were so lovely, funny and/or poignant I thought I could easily do that too.
Yeah, I gave those thoughts up pretty early on though. I wanted my journal writing to be free-flowing and spontaneous. As I got older, my journals got more relaxed and kinda messy, which was great.
Then, when I was experiencing the absolute worst symptoms of borderline personality disorder, I began to use journaling as a form of therapy for a very specific problem I was experiencing.
Racing thoughts describes the anxious and obsessive state one may find themselves in where so many crazy things are going on at once that it all seems to backlog. The brain wants to take care of the backlog, I suppose, but for some reason it wants to take care of everything all at once.
Thoughts will come and go quickly with no hope for resolution so the brain gets more and more frustrated. The pace of thoughts quickens and quickens until soon it becomes a jumbled up mess racing through your mind. Hence the name. Often this may lead to physical pain that starts in the head and travels throughout the body. When it gets bad enough, it can literally feel like your skull is going to crack open.
I remember so many times of knealing on the floor with my head in my hands sobbing and begging for everything to stop so I could catch up. Either that or I would ball myself up on the bathroom floor since it was cool there and near so much refreshing water. If you’ve never experienced it for yourself let me just tell you it can be a living hell. It’s just one of the many reasons for a mental health sufferer to contemplate suicide.
While in recovery, I knew I had to find some way to deal with this problem so my brain didn’t end up imploding. I’d been keeping a journal for several years by then and so when the racing thoughts would start I decided to try writing it all down. Every thought that was flying through my head… all the frustrating problems I was unable to deal with… all the pain and agony I was experiencing… all the people I seemed to really hate at the moment…
I didn’t worry about grammar, spelling or anything at all really except getting the words down and out of my head. It was difficult for my writing (or typing) to keep up. I literally wrote down e-ve-ry-thing including what I was feeling physically.
Amazingly, after several minutes of this I would find myself calming down. My thoughts would slow and start to become normal again.
Much later, when I was feeling a whole lot better, I would go back and read what I had written. This is when it really began to dawn on me that when I was in the state of racing thoughts the rational part of my brain would temporarily go on vacation. All those thoughts seemed so crazy and silly afterward. I didn’t hate people. I loved people. I just didn’t understand the vast majority of them too much. Working to understand them more was something I needed to work on. This was a huge turning point for me in dealing with racing thoughts.
Journaling my racing thoughts did something else that was quite wonderful. When the episodes came again I got better at stopping to consider how I had previously caught myself not thinking straight. I got better at catching myself from getting worked into a frenzy of racing thoughts, and that was awesome!
If you read this and decide to try it for yourself (or if you’ve already tried it) and it works for you I would be thrilled to read about it.