Health

Dear Diary...

Pls fix me.
January 2, 2019, 11:48am
This is fine - write a diary
Illustration: Fawaz Dalvi

Inspired by our sister site Broadly, we’re creating the digital version of a bed—This is Fine—a weekly column on mental health that’s a space of comfort, joy, refuge and pleasure.

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Fine is the most overused and underrated word in my life. It’s possibly true for you too. It’s a mood, sometimes a destination, and more often than not, the most succinct encapsulation of ourselves at any particular moment.

It’s fine to be fine. It’s fine to not be fine too. That’s 2019 in a nutshell for most of us. Supported by a multitude of Instagrammers who are supporting us on this journey via their artwork and equally nuanced words.

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If, like me, you’re on this journey of being OK with everything, without a goal in sight (because self improvement is not a destination; it’s a state of constant flux) and need a bit of hand-holding now and then, may I suggest—wait for it—journaling?

Revolutionary, isn’t it? It’s almost as if the world’s recent embrace of mental health and related triggers has birthed the diary. Erm, no. Obviously. Journaling or writing in a diary has been acknowledged as a great stress reliever ever since psychological well-being emerged as something to be addressed in our everyday lives, ie very recently.

Overwhelmed? Anxious? Depressed? Not sure what you’re feeling (me 99% of the time)? List what’s upsetting you. It’s as simple as that. Vomit out words and phrases; they don’t even need to be sentences. Draw, doodle, paint, colour outside the lines or box or whatever. Make plans on paper, make origami out of it, frame it. I like making lists—to-dos, life plans, shows I want to watch, guys I want to do, groceries I need to buy, thoughts I don’t want to dwell on (writing them down is an act of catharsis), people I want to slap (an alarmingly but unsurprisingly long list), skincare I need to add/throw out/update etc—you get the idea.

My sister bullet journals—an elaborate artsy practise of maintaining a diary—with doodles, sketches, daily, weekly and monthly plans, annual goals and interests and a mood tracker. The trend of bullet journaling exploded a few year ago, and has, ever since, been the greatest time waster/mental health crutch/millennial version of art. It’s therapeutic just like maintaining an actual diary or journal would be, with the added benefit you’d derive from adult colouring books, undivided attention that helps to clear the mind and reduce anxiety.

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Journaling, like everything in this world, has its downsides too—overthinking and wallowing in your own world—but I feel these are possibly more extreme cases. Also, you don’t know until you try it—just how far you can go with it and in what direction. I hated keeping diaries as a child or teenager. I stumbled into writing as a career, and could never romanticise the act of writing, so in my 20s and early 30s, writing in a journal (after filing stories within crazy deadlines) felt more like work. I didn’t and don’t have any aspirations of writing a novel.

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However, in the last year, the process of writing has been a purge of anxiety, insecurity, doubt, and impending mid-life crises (my therapist laughed when I mentioned I might be entertaining the latter, and after ‘journaling’ my exact thoughts on it, I found myself laughing along with her). We build up insecurities in our head and then perpetuate them into a reality, because we feel entitled to do so (thanks to the millennials who are spreading the ‘joy’ of entitlement, so why should the rest of the world be left behind?). Journaling gives us distance from these thoughts, and almost in a physical way separates us from the more toxic ones, so either we can close the chapter after dumping them on a page, or learn to relook and change perspectives.

It’s that simple.

So fuck the pressures of resolutions and new beginnings, etc. Here’s to the joy of blank pages and colour pencils.

Follow Rituparna Som on Instagram.