My Not So Secret Diary

My Notebook

My Notebook - out on our kayak in Rock - writing for my sobriety and recovery blog My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
My notebook goes everywhere with me. It’s in my bag even when I know I won’t have time to get it out. It’s by my bed, even when I’m sleeping. I find it reassuring to know it’s there, that if I have an idea or a thought, I can right it down and ultimately let it go.

I was never one for journalling or writing a diary. I’ve always loved writing, but anything too personal scares me, because once it’s out there, everyone knows. That’s one of the reasons I am so grateful for all of you who read my blog - because you are all so kind.

For someone who has a lot of thoughts, it’s amazing the clarity that I get from writing. It helps me sort, uncover and work things out, even when I had no idea something was playing on my mind or hadn’t realised I was overthinking. It relieves the pressure and although I am clearly thinking, in a funny way it stops me from overthinking.

I like writing in my notebook more than typing at times. Typing feels a little like work. I spend a lot of time in front of a screen, so the softness of the paper and the feeling of actually creating something myself rather than generating it on a computer is nice. Research shows that we activate different areas of our brains when writing by hand or by typing and I find, on a computer or iPad, it is very easy to be distracted. My notebook has no distractions or notifications popping up! Also, we often cross out mistakes when we are writing, and are more likely to go along with them, sorting them out later, whilst on a computer, we can lose a lot of precious time writing, rewriting and editing our words, maybe aiming for perfection. At times typing may be better as it is more than likely quicker than writing longhand, but writing by hand works the brain in a different way. Forming letters with a pen is more taxing and you find yourself thinking more as you’re writing at a slower pace. Your brain focuses more on what you are doing, understanding and learning. Typing is different, as you’re only pressing the right key, it is more mechanical as the same movement generates whichever letter you use. The activation of different areas in our brain when handwriting can help create new ideas that we might not have otherwise had and due to it’s slower nature, so, not only is it soothing, but can help us think through our ideas more clearly as we write them down.

I’ve found writing very therapeutic, it’s not always nice bringing up the past, but it does seem to be the most effective way of sorting through and packing things away. It’s certainly helped me! Give it a go - you don’t have to show anyone!

Take care and thanks as always for reading.
Claire x



A friend of mine shared a post recently which I read with interest. It was like it had been written by me….

The subject was anxiety and anti-anxiety medication, which I have been taking for the best part of a year now. It focused on the way anxiety affects us although in fairness, it could have been written about many mental health issues.

I’ve had a life time of trying to cope, trying to seem okay when I wasn’t, covering my worries and of course, drinking far too much. Overcoming and living with any mental health problem is hard, but as many people will know, it is worse when you’re also trying to overcome an addiction. For a while I lost myself and then afterwards, I spent a long time rebuilding myself.

Something really clicked for me at about three years sober which coincides with the start of my blog. Sharing my experiences and taking about it has really helped me. Connecting with those who understand and perhaps have experienced something similar helps too. I guess there’s a reason why they say that the opposite of addiction is connection.

Reading the post I did was interesting because much as I feel stronger now than I have done in years, it’s always nice to feel like I’m not the only one, and to have my feelings validated. The post goes on to explain that for some people (like me), sometimes things just don’t sit right. We excessively worry. We notice the small things that others don’t. We wonder what we’ve done wrong even when we haven’t and we apologise far more than we need to. We think everything is our fault. We wonder about the authenticity of the intentions and comments of others. But, we don’t need to be told we’re over-sensitive because actually, we’re not. We might just be more sensitive than others but does that make us wrong? I don’t think so.

I was told the other day not to be so ‘precious’ about something. It’s not a term I like anyway, but I found it hard that day because I actually worked up the courage to voice a concern I had and then felt mocked by the response. I find simple things like that hard, because I don’t want to upset people, ever, so I tend to ignore or avoid, even when I feel hurt. Responding to a comment that was ‘apparently’ a joke about me was difficult, but I did it. To have it laughed off was annoying. It’s taken me a long time to get to where I am, and I’m not saying I want special treatment, but sometimes a little understanding would help. Just because mental health problems are not visible, does not mean they aren’t there, that we don’t struggle in the same ways as someone with a physical affliction.

I suppose what I’m saying is that I hope in this crazy, upside down world where we all live, that we can all show a little more kindness and consideration for each other. We don’t have to ‘get’ everyone and their struggles, but we can try to be empathetic and compassionate.

Be kind to yourselves.

Thank you for reading.

Claire x