Coping with a neuromuscular disease can be difficult. I have found that keeping a journal helps me to manage my stress. My writing includes gratitude journaling, and free writing about my thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
Experts agree that personal writing can help individuals to cope with stress and has health benefits. Keeping a journal on a regular basis can also lead to greater personal insight and understanding. Over time, keeping a journal can also increase creativity and improve one’s writing skills.
While the benefits of personal writing have been well documented, some people find it difficult to get started. The blank page can be daunting! You will find that there are many general books about journaling, including one listed below, that can provide you with general prompts.
To help you get started, I have provided a few journaling prompts about the experience of having a neuromuscular disease to help you. These are clustered into related questions, and each group will be likely to give you enough to write about for at least one session of journal writing.
In what ways has neuromuscular disease affected my life? What are my feelings regarding neuromuscular disease? How do I handle these emotions?
Who can I rely on for assistance when I need it? Do I find it difficult to ask for help when I need help? Why? How do others react to my requests for assistance? What do I do that makes it either easy or difficult for others to help me?
What limitations does neuromuscular disease place on me? Do I respect these limitations? What happens when I overdo it? How can I avoid overdoing it? How do I feel about these limitations? How do I handle frustration or anger over these frustrations? What opportunities has this disease opened up for me?
How do I cope with the stress that comes with the experience of neuromuscular disease? In what ways are my coping methods healthy? Unhealthy? What can I do to manage stress in healthy ways?
How do I cope with the grief that comes with the experience of neuromuscular disease? Have I allowed myself to feel grief? In what ways are my coping methods healthy? Unhealthy?
How has neuromuscular disease affected my relationships with other people, including my family of origin, friends, and significant other?
What do I have to be grateful for today? What can I give thanks for today?
Bender, Sheila (2000). A Year in the Life: Journaling for Self-Discovery. Walking Stick Press: Cincinnati, OH.
Muscular Dystrophy Association (2004). Writing About Events May Lower Caregiver Stress. MDA/ALS Newsletter v9 n2. http://www.als-mda.org/publications/als/als9_2.html#caregiverwriting . Retrieved 6/17/11.
Hitti, M., (n.d.) Healthy Living: 8 Steps to Take Today. Web MD website. http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/healthy-living-8-steps-to-take-today?page=3 . Retrieved 6/17/11.