I have kept a journal off and on for most of my life. In the early days these 'diaries' were full of childish angst, long laments about a current crush, or more often than not, mundane lists about the weather and what I ate that day for dinner. At one point in my teenage years I destroyed all of my diaries for fear someone would find and read them. What I didn't understand then was that writing down one's personal thoughts and feelings is a powerful way of processing and subsequently dealing with those feelings.
Since becoming an adult, I've kept most of my journals and I now have a banker's box full. I still vent in my journals and I even dare to write down my dreams, no matter how unrealistic or extravagant they might sound. I've also found journaling to be an indispensable prayer tool. Not only is the writing process itself therapeutic, but it is very encouraging to go back and reread what I wrote years before and see the fruition of those dreams or the answers to those prayers. While some of the ranting may be humbling, even those entries are useful in that they help me to put life in perspective. It is interesting to see how each of these issues played out. What seemed like an impossible situation has usually worked out in some unexpected way.
Expressing myself in this manner has been a hugely important way for me to maintain my mental health. Others have expressed this same sentiment this month. Writing from such a personal place may not be for everyone, but for me it continues to be my primary way to make sense of my world.