Patrons know that for the past 133 weeks (about two and a half years) I have published a weekly bonus podcast episode via the Roleplay Rescue Patreon entitled, “GM’s Journal”. The only missed weeks were during particularly dark segments of my life when mental health hit dramatic lows.
As ever, the GM’s Journal consists of unedited snippets of me talking into my iPhone which have been lovingly (ahem) crafted into a 45 minute or so log of my past week. As much as I am gratified that the GM’s Journal is enjoyed by my Patrons, the primary reason I record those snippets of thought is because it helps me.
Talking into my phone helps on a couple of different levels. Most basically, I get to verbalise and externalise many of my thoughts. When dealing with anxiety or depression, this journaling shifts the thoughts and feelings I am experiencing to a place where I can analyse them. Essentially, I separate the thoughts I have from who I am. This helps to challenge thought distortions and counter the largest of those in my own life, emotional thinking.
Sharing thoughts also allows me to develop lines of thinking about my hobby. While ideas bubble around inside my head all of the time, and while I respond emotively to those ideas, trying to vocalise them helps me to work out what I am considering and (again) externalise it. Much as writing down our ideas helps us to flesh them out, I find that speaking ideas has a similar effect. Speaking is, however, easier for me.
Listening back can be very informative. I can see the ebbs and flows of ideas; I can perceive patterns in my thinking; I can see trends in my emotional and psychological state. More than that, I can reconsider ideas that I vocalised earlier in a given week and then analyse them after some time has elapsed. This distancing further strengthens the sense that I am not the same as my thoughts or feelings.
I believe that I would do this now even if no one was listening to the episodes via the Patreon. But I am grateful that Patrons do listen in because the real jewel in the process is their feedback. Messages called in, emails received, and notes via social media all contribute to two valuable effects: 1) they sometimes act as a corrective challenge to my thoughts; 2) the often act as an encouragement because I am made aware that I am not alone.
Journaling has literally saved my life on at least two occasions when patron call-ins have been enough to pull me back from some very dark precipices. It has also allowed me to learn more about myself, my thought processes, my emotional habits, and my patterns of behaviour. I would whole-heartedly recommend journals to anyone who struggles with anxiety and depression. You don’t have to share them to get the benefits.
Thank you to everyone who has been listening and commenting on the GM’s Journal over the years. It’s been a strange and yet wonderful habit to develop but your support has made a world of difference to me.