I’ll be honest, I’ve been working on it for years and I still have no idea what to call it. Written in the cover page is “Jay’s Declassified Brain Survival Guide,” a reference to a 2000s Disney TV show, but that’s just a personal joke. I guess a mental health-focused “art journal” would be the most fitting label but, unlike an art journal… it doesn’t have a lot of art.
I can’t draw. At all.
Here are some ideas for you, based on what I’ve included:
- Make art. Make any kind of art you want. It’s good for you. Even if what you make isn’t directly connected to your mental health, expressing yourself is really important. You can include in your journal any type of art that’s flat, whether that’s watercolor, collage, or pencil sketches.
- Write down a running list of things to talk about with your therapist, or wisdom you’ve come upon during sessions.
- Include notes from DBT classes and activities. For example, I have a list of steps to take to validate my own feelings.
- Find workbook activities online or in books and record your answers.
- List psychiatric medications you’ve tried, dosages, and notes about them so you have this information for future reference.
- Write down the phone numbers of important professionals and supporters.
- Make a list of people to talk to when you’re feeling bad. Mine is a simple page with stick figures labeled with names. (Some have been crossed off– yikes!)
- Save quotes, poems, and song lyrics that speak to you. I went through my entire mental health Tumblr blog and wrote down quotes from reblogs that I liked.
- Create your own version of You Feel Like Shit and write down things to do when you feel bad. (This is similar to a Wellness Recovery Action Plan toolbox, which we will address in future posts!)
- Make pages dedicated to heroes and role models. Print out pictures (or draw them) and write down quotes from them or about them. As you create, think about why you admire them and try to incorporate those ideas. I also have some photographs mixed in of personal friends and our memories together.
- Write a list of long-term goals so you can celebrate when you achieve them! I have a list of short-term goals and a list of long-term goals that I reference every once in a while to keep me focused.
- You can also write about what you’ve already accomplished. I have a list of things I’ve done that no one can take away from me– for example, I might backslide in my recovery, so I don’t list that. Instead, I have things like graduating with a B.A. and working hard on self-improvement.
- Write affirmations, of course. How many times you repeat them is up to you.
- Include your WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) and/or PAD (Psychiatric Advance Directive) so that you have them in a central location. Your WRAP will also include a lot of useful lists.
- Print out photographs that speak to you, whether they’re ones you’ve taken or they’re from another photographer. Maybe they have quotes and maybe they don’t. In mine, I have pictures I’ve taken of spectacular architecture.
- Glue in scrapbook items like postcards from friends or movie tickets.
- Write a list of boundaries, sexual or otherwise. I have mine on notecards in an envelope because I didn’t want to come across the sexual content every time I flipped through my notebook.
- Make a list of good qualities you possess.
Do you have any more art journal ideas? Let us know in the comments below!