It’s Time to Journal Your Way to Happiness

In the black community, the stigmas on depression and seeking help stem from a multitude of factors from lack of knowledge, socio-economic status, and trust, to the scarcity of African Americans in the mental health profession. However, they may be something so simple as utilizing a pen and paper to cope with the disorder.

For many, learning how to understand and handle your feelings is a lifelong task. For depressed people, however, recognizing and experiencing emotions is essential to recovery. According to psychotherapist Richard O’Connor, Ph.D., this is the very starting point for overcoming and preventing depression.

Some people are afraid of emotions because they fear they will be overwhelmed, even consumed by them, says O’Connor, who himself has suffered from deep depression. But rather than saving you from emotional pain, repressing your emotions can make it more likely you’ll become depressed. “The emotional self-has largely been lost to the depressive,” O’Connor writes in his book Undoing Depression (Little, Brown, and Co., 1997). “Reestablishing contact with it may take time, but it’s worth the effort.”

Since depression is a serious illness, you should always seek professional help in treating it. However, for those on the road to recovery who want to better understand their emotions and perhaps avoid another bout of depression, O’Connor and other experts suggest exercises that you can do on your own.

But First, Some Background

Of course, some depressions are “situational” – that is, they may stem from