The power of journaling… and reaching a wider community
For so many the action of writing can feel therapeutic. Marie Ennis-O’Connor started journaling as a young girl and later after a cancer experience went on to share this powerful approach.. It was with great pleasure meeting up with Marie Ennis that morning…before she was leaving Adelaide to go back to her homeland Ireland. We met Marie Ennis through attending her excellent presentation at the Flinders Centre for Innovation and Cancer when she spoke about the power of journaling. Marie being a cancer survivor herself and having a love for writing used the internet and social media to express her story and connect with a wider global community. Marie is a wonderful advocate in the world of cancer having a voice and being a regular speaker on global platforms … We were very privileged to have had a deeper conversation about her personal experience… Here are some of the questions we asked Marie … Thank you Marie for sharing your knowledge with us.
|Your Name||Marie Ennis- O’Connor|
|City of Residence||Ireland|
|Occupation or Experience||Social Media Consultant|
|Your Passions/Interests||Passionately interested in the role of social media in healthcare|
|A Favourite Quote||“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver|
1. How and why did you get started with journaling? I have kept a diary since I was a little girl – it has always been a safe place to express my worries, my hopes, my dreams, and my despairs without fear of judgment. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was natural for me to turn to journaling to help me make sense of my feelings and emotions and chart my progress. 2. How and why has journaling been helpful to you in your cancer journey and in life? Journaling helps me gain clarity and perspective. It can give me a certain degree of distance and objectivity to step back from what I’ve written and see it for what it really is. When it came to cancer, I could chart my progress and see how far I had come on the journey. It’s wonderful to go back and re-read journal entries from years ago and see how much real progress has been made. When you’re frustrated that your life doesn’t seem to be working out as you’d like, go back and read something you wrote five years ago — it will totally change your perspective. This helps you in the present moment too by reminding you that you are in fact growing and changing, even when it feels like you’re standing still. 3. What did that bring to you? From a pure neuro-biological standpoint, while you are occupied with writing, the analytical left brain is engaged in the writing process. This allows the right brain to be free to feel, emote and create. In this setting, you are able to better understand yourself and the world around you. 4. What style of journaling do you use and what other approaches are there? What are the benefits or risks are associated with these different approaches? I graduated from private journaling in a notebook to blogging. Cancer can be a frightening and lonely experience so being able to write about it while at the same time connect with others is a powerful release mechanism. Sometimes the very act of writing our story and having it heard and acknowledged can go a long way towards healing. For me the benefits have always outweighed the risks, but it is important to be aware of what those risks might be – for example would sharing your story online affect your job prospects? 5. If making journals public through blogs, what would you advise around writing a blog and staying safe around unhelpful comments? Decide how open you want to be when it comes to writing your blog. It’s perfectly ok to write under a pseudonym if you wish to protect your real identity. I’ve been writing my blog Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer since 2009 and for the most part I have had a very positive response to my writing. Occasionally I have had to deal with some comments that have been hurtful or unhelpful, but it has happened so infrequently that it hasn’t been a major issue. I find that my blogging community will often step in to defend me on the rare occasion this happens. Make sure you enable comment moderation on your blog and if someone attempts to post an abusive comment, you can delete it without it ever being published.