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To request an interview with Jenni, contact Amber McGinty at media@jennischaefer.com. (Please only use this email if you are a member of media.)

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Jenni's Mailing Address:

PO Box 40806
Austin, TX 78704
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June Alexander is a gem in the eating disorders field. I truly admire her as an advocate, a speaker, and a writer. (As an author myself, I have no idea how June is able to write so many books so very quickly!) Recently, I have had the honor of collaborating with June about the importance of recognizing trauma and PTSD. She and I both faced an eating disorder and PTSD; we came out on the other side—more free than ever before! Something else that we have in common is journaling. In fact, I am honored that June even quoted me in her new book about the topic titled The Diary Healer. Thanks, June, for allowing me to share this beautiful excerpt below.

For a chance to win a signed book or a Recovered® Journal, see information at the bottom of this post.

Excerpt from Introduction, The Diary Healer

When I began writing a diary, nobody told me to write, or gave guidance in what to write. I just did. Two events at age 11 – the development of an eating disorder and the start of diary writing – have led to this book.

That first small diary, with a page for every day in the coming year beckoning to be filled, bonded with me immediately. More than 50 years later, diaries fill several shelves on my bookcase. These hand-written books, of many colours, shapes and sizes, have helped to shape and strengthen my authenticity, but it wasn’t always this way.

From the start, the diary seemed a friend, confidante and lifeline. However, journeying through childhood and adolescence, into young adulthood and beyond involves maneuvering through a complicated map at the best of times. With an eating disorder, the challenges and pitfalls multiply rapidly. My diaries reflect this struggle. As I proceed into adulthood, I lose direction and almost lose my self. Four decades are consumed with the search to find and regain me.

Using Writing as a Therapy for Eating Disorders_FAW
Tell us in the comments one way that writing or journaling has helped you in your journey and be entered to win a signed copy of the book OR a Recovered® Journal!

Today, reading and reflecting on my diaries helps me to understand how the disintegration and healing of self took place. A revelation has been that this diary that has been my friend, as intimate as one can be with the written word, was not always what it seemed. For years, while filling page after page, in a bid to gain clarity and order in my mind, I was strengthening the eating disorder instead of me. Right before my eyes, I had been self-destructing. Acknowledging and accepting I had been led astray in this way was difficult. How did this happen? I wanted to know.

Today, as an observer, the process of disconnection is evident; I see the gradual alignment of diary entries with the eating disorder and the deepening suppression of ‘real’ me. Thoughts, expressed through my pen, become entwined in the eating disorder web. It’s quite maddening to be standing on the ‘outside’, watching this slow fragmentation of self. I want to intercept, and shout, ‘Wrong way!’ I want to grab the hand of the child that is writing and say, ‘No, no. Not that way. Come this way, trust in me’.

As an observer, I feel great relief when a U-turn occurs, and the diary starts to record the gradual reintegration, and eventually liberation, of my body becoming at one with self.

I continue to write a diary. My grandchildren love to watch a new entry being penned and sometimes ask if they can write something too. ‘Of course’, I say. This is their story too and one day, the diaries will belong to them.

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Just post a comment for a chance to win this journal!

For a chance to win a signed copy of June’s book OR a Recovered® Journal, tell us in the comments one way that writing or journaling has helped you in your journey!

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  • Britt

    The first day I walked into therapy and was told to buy a journal and start writing, I rolled my eyes. I had purchased countless journals before only to write a few pages and then stop. But something was different this time and the pen could hardly keep up with my mind. That was almost 4 years ago and I now write almost every day. Writing has put me in touch with my own thoughts and emotions in a way I never dreamt possible. I look forward to reading June’s book and gaining her insight. Jenni, your words are still some of the best I have read in my recovery journey. As always, thank you.

    • Britt, thanks for sharing this! Beautiful. I love all that you said. And much appreciation for reading my books. That means a lot to me!

  • Keelyan Sheeley

    I had always fought Journaling when it was suggested. I hated having anything written down…it felt too permanent and made me feel extremely vulnerable. As I’ve gotten older and began trying it, it has really helped me get out the emotions that I couldn’t process and couldn’t put into words others could understand. It has become a great resource in my recovery.

    • Thanks for sharing, Keelyan. I love what you said about journaling feeling permanent. I have felt that way before as well. I am glad that, ultimately, you found writing to be a resource!

  • Allison

    I used to journal for years before I even had an eating disorder, and what I wrote was always very factual. I’d write what I did and who I did it with, and not really about how I felt. When I was at my lowest, my journals turned into a lot of numbers. I was writing about pounds and calories, and still not how I felt. The turning point in recovery came when I noticed my journals turned into feelings, worries I was having, and hopes for the future. As terrifying as it can be sometimes to see all my thoughts written out in front of me, it’s so helpful to keep me on track. Also, Jenni, your books have helped me more than any other reading I’ve done in recovery, so thank you for that.

    • Thanks, Allison. Your words mean a lot — appreciate it! My early journaling was similar–facts and figures. It wasn’t until recovery that I began to write about my feelings. (I think June might have even quoted me saying something like this in her book!)

  • Sarah perry

    Journaling has helped me so much before I felt like it was a chore or I would just write what I did in the day but now I feel it gives me a sense of relief it feels once I write it out on paper. It’s something that is mine and I can write my true feelings and experiences and not be judged. Journaling is now my go to thing. Also have my fancy journal feather pen that I write with 🙂

  • sarah perry

    Journaling has helped me so much before I felt like it was a chore or I would just write what I did in the day but now I feel it gives me a sense of relief it feels once I write it out on paper. It’s something that is mine and I can write my true feelings and experiences and not be judged. Journaling is now my go to thing. Also have my fancy journal feather pen that I write with 🙂

  • Michelle N.

    When I will actually take the time (and courage) to journal, it is SO therapeutic for me. Sometimes, because I know how therapeutic it is and how much I need it, I avoid it just for those reasons–because I know it will force me to face some intense feelings.

    • Such a great point, Michelle. You are right: journaling can require much courage.

  • I don’t always do it consistently, but I love starting my day by journaling even for a few minutes. I usually list things that I am thankful for as a way to get started. There’s something powerful in acknowledging what I am grateful for before starting my day!

  • Brynna Slater

    I have found journaling to be a way in which I am able to physically sort out all the thoughts that are overwhelming me and running around in my head. Writing them down in a somewhat organized manner helps me to look at what I’ve been troubled by or thoughts I’ve been obsessing over and see everything from more of an outsider’s view. In this way, I find myself able to more clearly process through what is actually going on.

    • I agree, Brynna! Thanks for sharing your perspective.

  • Tamara

    I just started writing this morning! I have never been good at keeping it up and would really like to stay consistent.

    • I know what you mean! My journal writing has been inconsistent lately, too! Thanks for sharing.

  • Mary

    Journaling is a beneficial tool for navigating life. It connects you to you God and allows you to process your thoughts in an uninhibited manner. Regardless of what is going on, journaling has a place and can help you see things from new perspectives.

    • Great comment, Mary! I like to keep a prayer journal where I write letters to God.

  • Jessie

    When I did not have a support team, journaling was how I got through my days. Now, my journaling time is my chance to see my progress, consider what still needs to be done, and to figure out what’s holding me back. As a clinician, I recommend journaling highly because I know how much it has helped me.

    • Thanks, Jessie! I love what you shared. And thanks for your important work as a clinician!

  • PA

    Like June, I developed my eating disorder and also started writing in my diary when I was 11 years old. Today, I write every single day and my writing has turned into it’s own form of spirituality and therapy. Every day, in addition to writing what is on my mind, I write gratitudes as well as accomplishments. It is easy to feel lacking and never enough and it is easy to feel that our circumstances are lacking and never enough. These practices help me with these feelings and take me to a place of abundance, humility, and grace.

    • Thanks for the reminder: gratitude is so important. Appreciate your sharing this wonderful comment.

  • Erin Malone

    Journaling truly helps me get in touch with my underlying feelings that I may not be able to recognize without writing them down! It is a truly therapeutic process!

  • Cindy Marie

    I try to journal all the time but I find that ed comes and reads it and then everything I have written is crap.
    But I figure as long as I keep trying then ed will lose his power a little bit at a time.

    • You are right! Ed will lose his power as long as you keep trying.

      And CONGRATS: you are the winner of June’s book!! Can you please send your mailing address to jenni@jennischaefer.com? June will get a book out to you!

  • Traci Hedetniemi

    Journaling helps me “speak” the thoughts in my head. When I was in intensive treatment for my eating disorder, my journal was where I could pour out all of the thoughts and feelings that I was always afraid to said in group – and sometimes, even in therapy. Sometimes I struggle to journal and feel like the words won’t come out on paper. Those are the times I know that I really need to talk through something in therapy.

  • cariw0

    Through poetry is how I journal. Each word is important in poetry, and as I struggle to convey feelings through them, it helps to unpack or clarify the feelings for myself. It is healing work – heavy lifting but rewarding, Cari

    • This is so cool, Cari. I love that you journal via poetry.

  • Daria Tarrant

    I fought journaling when suggested by a counselor many times saying to myself it will never work. The thing is if you don’t allow it to work it won’t work. One of the team members at Bridgepoint Center for Eating Disorders taught me that back in 2011 when I first started going there for treatment with my eating disorder. I told journaling didn’t work for me so there was no point in giving me. I have stuck to journaling ever since she told me to give it a try it may work this time.

    • I love this story….that you took a risk and gave journaling a second try. Thanks for sharing this, Daria!

  • Kelly

    Journaling has helped me to recognize my irrational thoughts and then to work through them in ways that my counselor and I have discussed during therapy sessions.

  • Aimee Runnoe

    I have used journaling for years, even before I developed bulimia and then anorexia. I used to express a lot of feelings through poetry. Now, as I’m making more
    and more progress over the years as an adult, I use journaling to “dialogue” with my therapist between sessions. I write about my struggles, and also write the response I know after years of working together, that he would give me if we were in a session. It not only helps me gain clarity and perspective, but also helps with times of crisis to avoid behaviors that are self-destructive. It has been a tool in my toolbox that I now recognize is really the wisdom coming from within me as I respond to myself with insight and perspective.

    • This is such an awesome idea. Thanks for sharing this, Aimee!

  • Nikki

    I know its helpful sometimes. But I haven’t had luck with being able to slow down and journal. It takes focus, stillness …

    • This is such a great point, Nikki. I totally get it. Slowing down to make time for journaling can be such a challenge.

  • Trudy

    Journaling was something I would do, when I hit my low points. I hoped that it would somehow help me make sense of what was going on with my ED. I always ended up not solving things.
    Through therapy I have really learnt that you need support to recover. I started to try and use my journal in therapy, to let my therapist know how I was feeling, but got blocked by “ED”.
    After I came across Life without ed, which is one of the best books by far I have ever read. I asked my therapist to read it, because I could not believe some of the similarities between Jenny’s story and mine.I wanted her to understand me, this was the turning point in breaking free from Ed. Since then I have been able to over come Ed blocking me, I use some parts of my journal in therapy to help me recover, especially dialogue between me and Ed.
    I can honestly say I think I am pretty much there. My journal will continue.
    Thank you so much.

    • Thanks for posting this! I am SO grateful that my words helped you in Life Without Ed. I love what you said: “I am pretty much there.” Yay!

      • Trudy

        Hey thanks that’s really lovely! I will send my mailing address to you.
        I never thought that when I was poorly, that life could be better. Support and encouragement from others to keep reminding me, kept me going.
        To all those out there struggling, keep listening to those people, they are right even though it seems impossible at times……it can get better, I promise.

  • Melody Kruse

    Writing has helped me discover more of who I am on a daily basis. It is something that continues to ground me in my early recovery and gives expression to the feelings that I struggle with. Writing is like putting a piece of me onto the page–the good, the bad, the ugly. It gives me a chance to step back, reflect, and keep moving forward.