I have been keeping a journal since I was about 13 years old. These journals are some of my first memories of writing. In them I wrote about myself. I wrote lists of things I wanted to buy at the mall, the clothes I was going to wear to school for that week and one very amusing pros and cons list trying to convince my parents to let me register for a MySpace account. On some pages I made bubbly doodles or practiced my signature. As my thoughts matured, so did my writing. Writing has always been a way to organize, to see the words in my heads written down, bearing physical weight and importance. Writing made sense.
My third journal I ever filled was light blue and square with big pink and yellow flowers on it, connected by green felt stems. When I look at the journal now, it's pretty easy to see the progress of my depression as it began to bloom the summer of 2010. My handwriting changes as I flip through the coffee-stained pages. My letters became thinner, just as my thighs and wrists that year. I went from celebrating my braces coming off on May 11 to writing on September 3, "I want to run away. I fucking hate all of this." From that entry forward, my writing only gets worse. I became borderline abusive, writing things like "I will get skinnier...I will get prettier....I will get happier" and "NO FOOD FUCKER" (after a particularly long night of binge eating). On New Years Eve I was celebrating something I never thought I would be: weighing 111 pounds. Needless to say I was sick. This went on for about five more months until I accepted help and was admitted to an impatient unit in Connecticut. For this time spent, I wrote in a royal blue journal with a cover that reads, "Silver Hill Hospital: Restoring Mental Health Since 1931." The writing in these pages is different.
Healthier, but not healed.
Honest and exhausted.
As part of my therapy sessions I began writing letters. Letters to my eating disorder, my parents, my friends. I write about my obsession over a boy who didn't love me, the demise of my nonexistent self confidence and sometimes about how much I want to cut. But on June 6, I celebrated the day I was trusted with a razor and was able to shave my legs for the first time in weeks. I never cut myself again.
With these journals, I have come to accept (and attempt to understand) a part of my life that, without writing, is just a reel of pain and ghosts stuck on repeat in my head. The writing reminds me of how I felt, not just the physical symptoms of my disease. It reminds of a reality I once lived and helps me not to reenter it. Writing about it now continues to ground me.