From death row to a new life

Growing Tree of Life newsletter
6 April 2023
Reading time: 4:18 minutes

2017. ​
My life seemed to be over.

​I was severely depressed and I cried a lot (yes, men do cry). ​

I was: ​

  • ​Alone after the breakup of a long-term relationship. ​
  • Unemployed (I left my job. I moved 100 miles away to get out of the town where everything screamed her name at me). ​
  • Homeless, crashing on the sofa of the only friend I had left. ​
  • Broke, unable to pay loans I took while in a high-paying job. ​
  • The last straw came when my new job in a new place fell through because I lost my driving licence. (Too many speeding charges). ​ ​

I attempted suicide.

(Don’t worry, I am not writing from beyond. I was stopped.)


​I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. 

Some people would roll over and let the rest of life happen to them at this point. ​For me, it was a call to action. ​
​I started gathering information. ​It was a game-changer. It explained a lot.

And then I went on a mission to conquer it.

To find out who I actually am and to rebuild my life around who I am. ​​


  • ​I am finishing my Coaching and Mentoring Course.
  • ​I have a proven life framework. I named it Tree of Life Quest.
  • ​And I started a company of the same name to bring the framework to the world. ​To help other people live their lives true to themselves. ​Lives build on who they are, not on who they think they are supposed to be. ​ ​

Why am I telling you all this?

​Because there is one tool which changed everything.

This tool is a Journaling.

​I don’t think, that I would be able to come all this way if I didn’t journal. ​

In the last week, I went through my past Journals and what I found blew my mind. ​

Some of the insights I captured not only helped me at that moment. (see benefits of Journaling below)

But they are timeless thoughts able to change the lives of others. ​If you are on Twitter, follow me, I will be sharing a lot of shorter stuff over there. And some of the longer things will make it into the newsletter as well.

My today’s tip is simple. If you don’t journal already, start. TODAY.

Why? Let’s look at it.

​What is journaling and what are the benefits?

​Journaling is simply writing what you think. You capture your thoughts about any subject. You take them out of your head and put them onto paper (or screen). ​

Here are some of the benefits of journaling. I experienced all of them.

  1. Mental health: Journaling helps to reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
    When you write in a journal, you can express your emotions and feelings. Seeing them in front of you, with your eyes, helps you to identify patterns or triggers affecting your mental health. And it gives you a chance to see which ones are just thoughts without any substance.
  2. Retrospection: Journaling provides an opportunity to reflect on your past and get to know yourself better.
    You explore your values, beliefs and behaviours. Seeing who you are on paper is both, sobering and liberating. And it helps you to focus and improve.
  3. Detachment from the past: Writing about your past experiences helps you to look from above and see the forest, not just the trees.
    You gain a new perspective, you can let go of negative emotions or thoughts. It helps to find closure and move forward.
  4. Clarity: Journaling helps to clarify your thoughts and ideas. ​
    It provides a space to explore options and consider different perspectives. It helps to organise tasks or goals and leads to greater focus and productivity.
  5. Vision: Writing in a journal helps you identify your personal goals and aspirations and create a vision for your future.
    You get a sense of direction and purpose. It nudges you and motivates you to take action towards achieving your goals.
  6. Goal setting, events and To-Dos: Journaling can be an effective tool for setting and achieving personal goals.
    Writing down your goals, events and To-Dos gives a visual overview of where you are and where you want to go.
    Regular review of your progress helps you maintain focus and motivation. It gives you a sense of accomplishment as you achieve your goals. Those ticks on things you finished? They do work. The dopamine hits from making that ticks are awesome.
  7. Memories: Looking back at your past writing is a great way to relive any experience
    When you write down what happened during your day there is no limit to what you can do with it. I am re-reading my journals now and it’s an amazing reminder of what I went on in my life. My Twitter friend @web_journals turned his journals into a novel! Journaling gives you a lot more than an outlet for your thoughts at that moment. It will keep giving for years to come.

Convinced? Wait, there’s more to look at! ​ ​

If you’re now thinking: “I should start journaling.”, you might be wondering whether you should go digital or stick with pen and paper.

Both have their pros and cons. But there are some unique advantages to handwriting. Here are a few reasons why you should journal on paper:

  1. Improved memory: Writing by hand improves your memory and helps you retain information better.
    Handwriting engages different parts of the brain than typing does. Writing by hand is especially helpful for reflecting on the past; on your personal experiences and emotions.
  2. Mindfulness and focus: When you write by hand, it keeps you centred.
    Yep, that’s an exercise of mindfulness right there. It helps you stay focused on your thoughts and emotions. Plus, it can give you a break from digital distractions and screen time, which is always a good thing.
  3. Personalisation: Handwritten journaling allows you to get creative and add a personal touch to your entries.
    You can incorporate drawings. Use different coloured inks. Decorate the pages with stickers, photos or whatnot. The only limit is your imagination.
  4. Emotional release: Writing by hand is often a more emotional experience.
    ​That can help you release pent-up emotions and stress. Plus, if you’re feeling REALLY frustrated or angry, you can tear out the pages or even burn them (safely, of course) as a way to physically let go of those negative thoughts or emotions.
    (Which reminds me: Some day I have to tell you about forgiveness and how burning a list of past sins helps with it.)
  5. Accessibility and convenience: Handwriting requires no technology or electricity.
    It’s easy to use anywhere, anytime. You can carry your journal with you wherever you go, and jot down ideas or thoughts as they come to you.

Digital journaling has its perks, but there are unique benefits to handwriting.

There are also other benefits of journaling. ​
For example:

  •  increased creativity 
  •  improved communication skills ​
  • a greater sense of self-awareness 
  •  deep self-acceptance

But the letter is getting too long, so I’ll wrap it here.

Do you have any questions about journaling that I can help you with?
​Do you journal already? ​
Did my letter change your view on journaling?

Let me know at ​

Till next week ​

What you can do next:

  1. Did you find the content valuable?
    Do you know someone who could benefit from information like this?
    Please forward the email to them. 
  2. Have you been forwarded this email?
    Do you like it?
    Here is the link you can use to subscribe.

    The Growing Tree of Life newsletter is sent out every Thursday.
    Reading time (without this section) is usually 5 minutes or less.
  3. Check out the Tree of Life Quest website.
  4. Do you have questions, comments, suggestions or complaints?
    I would LOVE to hear from you.
    You can reply to this email or use the Contact Me Form.
  5. Follow me on Twitter for daily tweets about personal growth, life improvement and occasional threads with tips and tools you can use.
    (Note: I don’t post on other platforms too much. Yet.)

Thank you for reading.
See you next time.


Image sources:

  • Lubo, set of journals: © Tree of Life Quest | All Rights Reserved