Journalling for recovery: Xicius’ story

Editor’s note: Xicius is a brave soul who is passionate about mental health. He believes words play a significant role in our lives. This is part 2 of his story (you can read Part 1 here). In this article, he analyses the difficulties of keeping a diary and how journalling has eventually aided him in recovery. Thank you for sharing your insights with us Xicius! We are rooting for your recovery! 

I have struggled with recovery for many years. I made many attempts at recovery and one of them was through writing a diary. I failed miserably on multiple occasions but I realize that this is due to several reasons.

  • The things I wrote about are vague; no concrete goals or intention.
  • Unspecified direction and structure.
  • Not allowing myself to listen to body/brain/mind rhythm.
  • Fear, which for me takes the form of swearing towards a higher power.
  • Over-confidence in hoping for a one-size-fits-all solution.
  • Not letting go of my past and taking it out on something else.
  • Having a legalistic and rigid approach to things with unrealistic rules.
  • Perfectionistic expectations – the thought I cannot and should not make mistakes.

I tried to fight and challenge negative thoughts cognitively but I am exhausted in the end.

So I decided to give journaling a chance once more; to write my thoughts down once again, and this time, I’m determined to write authentically from my heart, not fake ones that are about “what should be”.

This was the No. 1 rule I set for myself as I worked on the diary again, provided that I don’t throw my diary away, that is.

Compared to simply fighting thoughts internally, a diary is easier to refer to, to remember and to manage these thoughts written on paper.

Image credit: Author’s artwork. 

This helps greatly to stop the mind/brain from playing ‘tricks’ on myself, especially if you catch yourself having a different approach or idea the next day. This rule of writing things down is constant and simple. Think of it as a brain dump where you need to just dump your ideas into trash bin on your PC.

This has been a success so far.

I’ve also learnt listen to my brain and body through this process — when to just dump the thoughts and instead go do something else.

Through the process of writing and sorting my thoughts using the “dumping” system, I realize a lot of my thoughts are automatically filtered and rejected, only a few meaningful thoughts stay on my mind today.




Confusion is minimized and order is gradually restored in my mind.

I will also implement setting boundaries for myself in my thought and deeds. Medication still must be taken to give myself the control that I deserve in my life.

Very soon I will recover quickly from my 14 dark years of mental disorder which was a tough learning experience of joy and pain. I am eagerly anticipating my day of breakthrough. It shall come soon!

Xicius is a 33-year-old who shared his story on The Tapestry Project in 2015. He has recently taken up Chinese calligraphy which he occasionally sells. He contributes one of his pieces as a featured image to accompany this story.


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