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Journaling Through Illness: How Writing Can Ease the Burden of the Journey

Miles Oliver February 10, 2023

We all go through trials in life; some less avoidable than others. It’s important for people to understand their afflictions and put the right steps in place to heal or cope with them. 

In this case, we’re considering the weight of mental, physical, and emotional trauma and how it can affect you in daily life. Just as importantly, we’re going to discover how the exercise of writing can soothe these types of trauma and help comfort you in tough times.


Why You Should Journal Through an Illness or Trauma

Writing is an amazing thing. It’s one of the most basic and fundamental pillars that form civilizations, and it’s essential for so many things to function. Writing, in its purest definition, is to inaudibly convey meaning. It’s used for communication over long distances, telling a story, and even immortalizing a thought. 

In the case of mental health, it can be used to soothe and calm the writer. Recording your thoughts and feelings can help empower you to understand something better. It enables you to describe a feeling, making it easier to communicate that feeling to others. 

Writing can also help you feel more in control of a situation and make your life feel less chaotic. There’s a sensation of satisfaction we feel when we can encapsulate an otherwise chaotic feeling into a contained set of words on a page. 

Writing down what you want, need, love, hate, and are afraid of can help you realize your own weaknesses, strengths, and desires, which can help you to understand yourself. 

Where merely thinking about something or speaking about it is considered to be ephemeral and forgettable, writing something down is a permanent thing that can help you recall a thought — particularly about a certain stage in your disease journey. 

It’s in this way that you can prevent relapses or similar afflictions from surprising you in similar future situations.


Trauma and Remedy

For a lot of people, there will be an urge to solve problems with their illness through words or actions immediately. If you’re experiencing emotional pain or physical pain, it can be instinctual to act out emotionally. While that is completely human, it’s not always productive. It’s also never wise to bury our traumas, as they will inevitably reappear later on in life through some mode or fashion. Whether it skews your perspective and character in a longstanding way or disables you from trusting people as quickly as you used to, the ramifications of unresolved trauma can be crippling to both your reasoning abilities and your ability to find joy in the future.


How Can Writing Through a Difficult Scenario Help You Heal?

The positive benefits we can receive from writing things down are innumerable. Writing can calm us through emotional situations, physically challenging situations, and mental anguish. 

How everyone responds to illness — even if living with the same illness — will be different. 

For example, the degree to which people experience gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms will vary in intensity. Documenting one’s GERD symptoms, at what point in the day they flare up the most intensely, and what foods you might have eaten to prompt the symptoms can be a tremendously beneficial exercise in tracking the disease and pursuing action to correct it. 

Another example might be a genetic disorder or disease which might negatively affect your mental health in a passive, yet persistent way. 

Genetic diseases, like type one diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and certain vein diseases, can have a huge, long-lasting impact on your life. Usually, these are conditions that will follow a person throughout their entire life, even if they may have periods where symptoms are more or less severe. 

Attempt to record your illness, the effect it has on your life, and what it impedes you from doing. Write down the things you wish to do if it were better controlled or nonexistent. This simple expression on paper can help you understand yourself better, know your limits, and better articulate your struggles with concerned people trying to help, like your family and medical professionals.



Lamenting is a poetic expression, usually sung or written. Human beings are sensing creatures that feel pain not just physically but also emotionally and mentally. If you’re enduring a major health crisis, writing down your feelings can help you process this change. 

In those moments when life seems like it’s ground to a halt and all that remains is your confusion, sadness, and uncertainty, it can be helpful to write those feelings down in order to keep you progressing through the pain.


Steps in Recording Your Journey With Illness

Part of the process of effective journaling through illness is having a sequence you can follow. 

Now, only you’ll know what type of writing formula is most therapeutic for you, but it may be helpful to recognize patterns that you fall into when you write so you can focus on repeating them each time. Knowing your personal cadence with writing through issues will also help you concentrate on your writing goal and the whole point of why you sit down to record what’s going on at that moment — especially when faced with the timeliness of writing with a terminal illness. 

Try starting your journaling session by asking a question to yourself and proceeding to answer it. The process you go through to address a question can help inspire the right amount of description about the difficult health situation you’re facing.


Find What Works for You

The motion of putting pen to paper and journaling your burdens can be a much-needed release from the weight of a newly diagnosed or chronic illness. 

Pain is part of the human condition. It’s important to realize that there’s no contest or shame in it. Your steps to cope should be unique to you, and you shouldn’t feel pressured to handle heavy emotions about your illness in a certain way when that method might not be what you need at the moment. 

Be willing to accept help from others. But, ultimately, know that you have to find your personal methods to cope and push through life when living with disease or illness. It’s your job to find out what method of writing will be best in helping you get through the pain, confusion, and healing.


Miles OliverAuthor bio:  Miles Oliver is an independent writer with a background in business and passion for psychology, news, and simply helping people live happy and fulfilled lives. He has lived and traveled all over the United States and continues to expand his awareness and experiences. When he is not writing, he is most likely mountain biking or kicking back with a cup of tea.







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