Updated: Mar 26
Journaling can help support you through crisis and emotionally tough times especially if you are an introvert or have difficulty communicating.
Exploding from Feelings of Rage:
I’ve journaled most my life just reflecting about my day. But through total desperation and frustration, I recently discovered for myself how journaling can help a person through tremendous personal struggle. If life wasn’t difficult enough I recently learned I am a person with Autism. Unbelievable I know since I’m now in my 50s. But late diagnosis is typical for women my age. We are referred to as the hidden or missed group due to lack of Autism awareness and understanding in how Autism affects the female population back in the day when we were children. This new knowledge of me being on the Autism Spectrum was meant to be a help in understanding myself, but instead, it sent me hurtling down a path of despair, frustration, and feelings of no self worth. I call it, “My Storm Before the Rainbow”. My attempts to reach out to others for support, help, and understanding consistently go unheard. People tend to turn away from me in avoidance. I feel very isolated and alone. I can’t seem to verbally communicate my needs well enough to get support I need from others. Feeling like doors were closing on me everywhere I turned to pick up a pencil and paper and furiously wrote my feelings. Exploding with feelings of rage, desperation, hopelessness, and abandonment; I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote. To my amazement, this act of writing was seriously therapeutic. It was better than trying to share my struggles with another human because no one was there to disregard, question, or damage and destroy my expectations of being heard. My desperation, need to be validated, and seek help from others began to decrease greatly each moment. For some reason I felt heard even though no one would ever see or read what I wrote down that day. It was like I had finally found my voice but through journaling. I now had a new direction. From that day to now, I began a routine of journaling to heal my hurt and frustrations especially when I am about to explode from all the frustration and overwhelm I experience in the world.
It Hurts Like Hell:
I realize I still need help from therapy to help me deal with life better than I do as a person on the Autism Spectrum. Journaling can’t fully replace that. But journaling has absolutely filled a huge gap and need for me. It helps to fill my inability to verbally communicate well and engage with others. My age and Autism has made engaging with others very difficult and I feel like I don’t belong, don’t fit in, and feel unworthy to exist on the Earth and enjoy life like others do. I am a pain to others and even earned the nickname “Hemorrhoid”. But even with this struggle, I’ve been successful in life. You might be surprised to know I am a school teacher. I know I have been successful in life and made teacher of the year on three separate occasions in my district. I have done well but at this age and stage of life my Autism is creating great difficulty for me. Maybe it is also because I am now more aware of just how different I am. That greater awareness has caused me to shrink myself and withdraw from society. I’ve always known I was different but I still tried hard to function and fit in. It has been a major struggle and often I have felt it is impossible for me. It’s embarrassing to be the odd person that no one wants to be around. It hurts like hell actually! It hurts deep within the soul and leaves a person bleeding and scarred at the soul level. I am almost retired. Only a few years left to work and then I can retire. I feel I have been running a marathon for the past 20 years and I’m to the last few miles of the race and my body is dehydrated, tired, overworked, needs a rest, and basically dysfunctional. Nearly everyone I have tried to communicate with has turned their back to me and now avoids me. I have no one really to lean on except my current husband. He is very sick though. He is no longer working due to health issues and COVID-19. He is my greatest support. I appreciate him greatly. I struggle to understand my Autism therapist though. I suppose therapy can be hard for everyone. He wants me to do my best to function like everyone else and fit in. But I can’t or have to pretend to be as normal as possible and then no one gets to know who I truly am as a person. Instead they get to know me as a person trying to mimic what everyone else is doing in order to participate and be included. But that doesn’t even seem to be working for me at this age and stage. I can no longer do it. It is draining and isolating because no one is getting to know my true self. I sometimes feel my therapist doesn’t like me and wishes I would just go away. I am trying to ignore those thoughts hoping it’s my Autism way of thinking that’s creating the negative feelings and thoughts. I am choosing to believe my therapist is there to help and I’m just going to trust the process. I can’t seem to effectively express verbally what is going on with my life and my feelings to others. That is why I feel deep gratitude for the first experience of grabbing a pencil and furiously writing my feelings down. What relief and healing I felt from that one task. I am afraid to share my feelings with anyone these days except my husband who has been so supportive. I can express my deepest hurts, greatest rage, cuss words I would never utter out loud, and feelings I would never admit to having when journaling. Journaling is my sacred space, my new friend, and my voice.
Crawling to the Finish Line:
Life really sucks when you have Autism, are a school teacher, and you’re trying to teach in a world governed by COVID-19. Life is overwhelming on a good day. Living life through COVID-19 is about survival of the fittest. It is hard, very hard! I don’t know if I am going to be able to make it through my final years to reach retirement. I am getting through each day by putting one foot in front of the other and simply focusing on my feet. When I do this, negative self-talk stops, the overwhelm and anxiety decreases, and I can just focus on my feet hitting the pavement as I walk back and forth to work each day. Yes, I walk to work. I live just two buildings away from my work. It is a sweet deal for sure. I get frustrated because even my therapist has hinted about me choosing to go on disability. I don’t want that and feel I have been very capable and an excellent teacher. I am determined to stick out the final employment years I have left. I deserve to finish this employment race and the only way I am leaving is if I get fired. I’ve never had a negative observation or issue during my teaching career. I have always had excellent observations and marks from my bosses. I am determined to find ways to manage my environment so I am not getting overwhelmed at work. The overwhelm comes because of my Autism and I am hyper-sensitive and even a whisper can seem like yelling to me. Journaling has been helpful as I work through these issues. Journaling has been a major source of help for me to express feelings and thoughts I can’t share with others. My pencil and paper are always ready for me when I need to release overwhelming thoughts, feelings, and frustrations. It is a great way to help release build up of daily life struggles.
Through experience, I’ve found out for myself, journaling can be a great emotional support through life challenges. It can support you through crisis and emotionally tough times.
Article and photos written and created by Bobbi Gibson
Please see this article published in Medium.