How a David Bowie Journal Helped Me Cope With Anxiety and Depression

On Christmas morning 2016, I opened one of my gifts and revealed the David Bowie journal I had been coveting. A simple black cover with white text proclaimed a famous Bowie quote: “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.” Originally, I had thought it was just a cool item to pay homage to one of my favorite musicians. Little did I know that journal would become instrumental in helping me through a low period.

I’ve never been a consistent journaler, so I worried about figuring out how best to use it. Could I use it to gather various lists? Scribble meeting notes? It wasn’t until I went back to that quote standing defiantly on the cover that I realized what I needed that journal for. It would be a journal to document transitions and stepping into the unknown. I already knew at that point that I would be resigning from my job in a few months, and possibly leaving my profession altogether. With that knowledge came a flood of emotions: excitement, fear, doubt, certainty, pride, relief. Like Bowie said, I had no idea where I was going next, but the roller coaster of emotions was anything but boring.

I decided to make that simple notebook my inspiration journal. I would fill it with pictures, quotes, passages, stickers, lists, gratitude and ideas — anything that spoke to me and helped me remain courageous in the face of such a big change. I would write in it as much or as little as I needed. With no rigid journaling protocol to adhere to, I excitedly illustrated the first page with my word of the year: peace. I filled the next few pages with new strategies and big ideas that I was trying out as a way to shift my mindset. Everything was coming together. Then, a particularly difficult bout with anxiety and depression hit.

I turned to that journal and began using the pages to write through the millions of self-defeating thoughts that consumed my mind on a daily basis. I immediately found great comfort in the process. It was as if the swirling tornado inside my head finally had a place to go instead of getting stuck and wreaking havoc. What was most (pleasantly) surprising, though, was the fact that I always came back to an entry later in the day to add a positive ending. This wasn’t something I had intentionally set out to do. But through releasing my thoughts on paper, I became free to take in the positive things all around me. It only made sense to record the shift that I experienced each day — a reminder that the lows were not permanent.

My inspiration journal was the space I created for myself to release the things that were weighing me down. And the more I used it to work through the low times, the less I started to need it. Now it serves as a collection and reminder of the ways I empowered myself to overcome.

I wish I could say that the work is over, but I know that is not the case. It never really ends. But now I have a place to go. Inside the pages of my journal, I can work through the highs and lows of every challenge and change I face. And I often find myself going back to that quote on the cover and thinking of the pioneering musician who carved out his own unique path. What an empowering reminder that I have a chance to do the same on every blank page.

This article was previously published on Besomebody.

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