Journaling after Brain Injury – Why writing helps


Marilyn Lash

Posted by Marilyn Lash

November 15, 2010

“Writing about something that bothers us helps us come to terms even with events we don’t fully understand, and then we can go on with other things.” This comment by James Pennebaker, a well known author and expert on journaling, provides the premise for Barbara Stahura’s interest in journaling after brain injury. After her husband’s brain injury in a motorcycle crash, she turned to journaling as a means of coping, venting, and working through the emotional trauma that she was experiencing. Because she is a professional writer, this felt like a natural avenue for her at the time.

As the old saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” – her personal experience as a wife and caregiver redirected her professionally and personally. She is the coauthor with Susan Schuster of After Brain Injury: Telling Your Story, A Journaling Workbook. This workbook guides survivors of brain injury and blast injury through the powerful healing experience of telling their own stories with simple journaling techniques. By writing short journal entries, survivors explore the challenges, losses, changes, emotions, adjustments, stresses, and milestones as they rebuild their lives.

Barbara Stahura

Barbara Stahura

You never know where life will lead you. Barbara is now a certified journaling instructor and has been conducting workshops for both people with brain injury as well as for family caregivers of people with serious illness. She conducted a journaling workshop on alleviating compassion fatigue for the National Guard Bureau, for chaplains, psychologists, and other direct response staff, and conducted two workshops for the Arizona National Guard on “Journaling Towards Resilience.If you’d like to try your hand at journaling or just learn more about it, she has a great blog called Journal After Brain Injury.

2 responses to “Journaling after Brain Injury – Why writing helps”

  1. Thank you, Ginger, for your comment. As you’ve discovered, a journal is a perfect place to work on changing our thoughts and creating a better experience for ourselves. Even if we can’t change the situation, we can change how we think about it. And that’s the real power of journaling.

    And, even if you end up tearing out the pages of your journal, the simple fact that you’ve written is beneficial. Many studies have shown this.

    And thank you, Marilyn, also, for this wonderful blog post.

  2. I have always been a writer, but Journaling with a capital J has always scared me. I would write in a book, then feel embarrassed and go back and tear the pages out.

    But caring for a husband with a serious traumatic brain injury has driven me to a place within me, that needs to be shared. Feelings of loss and sadness that are pushed down day after day.

    I find my blogging/journaling has helped me to become more positive and as Marilyn says above, turn the lemons of life into lemonade. Somedays I feel the lemons are being tossed at us, but instead of sucking them dry in sourness, we catch them and squeeze them and add sweetner. Thanks to both of you, Marilyn and Barbara.

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