Journaling as Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

By: Meagan Freeman 

Unfortunately, things do not always work out the way we want them to. Marriages end, friendships change, and illness sometimes make our decisions for us. I often find myself worrying about the future, and thoughts invade my mind during stressful moments. Will I ever have the chance to swim on a beach in the Mediterranean? Will I see Europe the way I have always wanted? Will my children be embarrassed to be in public with me with my assistive devices? Boy, my thoughts can sure get dark at times, and anxiety can take hold and pull me out of reality very quickly if I allow it to.

Writing can be the most therapeutic experience.

No matter what challenge I am coping with, I find that if I sit down and pour those feelings onto paper, I am refreshed and renewed. It is much like traditional therapy with a counselor, except the paper is your therapist. The words are your medication, and the process of putting your thoughts and emotions into words is your cure.

I am a rather shy person, and some would say I am quiet and private. I have a few extremely close friends and family, but I keep my circle small. The interesting thing is, when I sit down to write I have no trouble communicating and expressing my feelings. Words are my favorite form of expression. Whereas spoken words leave your mouth and cannot return, written words can be erased, changed, and edited after you have reviewed them.

When coping with a chronic illness like MS, expression of feelings is incredibly important. It is so easy to feel alone and without friends who understand. Journaling and writing are great options for those who feel uncomfortable talking. “People who journal find a higher sense of self-awareness and are able to reduce anxiety and gain a sense of empowerment. Many people who struggle with deep emotional conflicts or traumas are unable to express their feelings in a verbal or physical way. Journaling allows a person the freedom of expression without fear of retaliation, frustration, or humiliation.” (

My journaling experience has evolved into my blog, and eventually became my recently published book. My hope is that my writing will continue to help me express the feelings I have about each challenge with MS, parenting, and life in general. In addition, I may have the opportunity to continue to heal others through this writing.

In my practice as Family Nurse Practitioner, I encouraged my patients to journal when traditional therapy was not appealing to them. Some of my patients used writing as an adjunct to traditional therapy, and found it extremely beneficial. From the feedback I received from my patients, my suspicions about the therapeutic effects of writing were confirmed. I would encourage anyone coping with illness, trauma, death, or simply life stress to try jotting down a few ideas onto paper. The following are excellent resources for journaling as therapy:


*Meagan Freeman was diagnosed with RRMS in 2009, at the age of 34, in the midst of her graduate education. She is a Family Nurse Practitioner in Northern California, and is raising her 6 children (ranging from 6–17 years of age) with her husband, Wayne. She has been involved in healthcare since the age of 19, working as an Emergency Medical Technician, an Emergency Room RN, and now a Nurse Practitioner. Writing has always been her passion, and she is now able to spend more time blogging and raising MS awareness. She guest blogs for Race to Erase MS, Modern Day MS, and now MSAA. Please visit her at:


Creating a Different Kind of Holiday Season When You Have MS:

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it is easy to get wrapped up in the holiday bustle. Many people get so focused on decorating and shopping that holiday thoughts change from decorating enough to feel festive and finding gifts that spread cheer, to the bigger and fancier (and more expensive) the gifts and decorations, the better the holiday.

So, before we all get wrapped up in consumerism, I would ask you to think about creating a different kind of Holiday Season this year. Instead of having said your yearly, “Thanks” on Thanksgiving, carry that idea over into the rest of your holidays by creating a Gratitude Journal.

You might be asking, “What is a Gratitude Journal?”

Several studies have shown that individuals who participate in gratitude-based activities may have an improved sense of well-being. So, I would challenge you to get either a specific journal or notebook (or smartphone app) and assign that as a specific place to write each day one thing for which you are grateful. Try to spend at least 10-15 minutes thinking about what you are grateful for, why you are grateful for it, and how it impacts your life before you write it down. At the end of each week, spend a little time to read over all the things you have written down over the last week.

At the end of the month, reflect back. Has this activity helped to keep you centered and focused during the Holiday Season? If so, this may be an activity to keep up throughout the year, reminding us that Holiday Season or not, upon reflection there are things large and small for which we are grateful.