REAL LIFE

Banning the baggage

How one woman ditched the past that was dragging her down
Supplied

Tuija Lindstrom, 46, Alexandra Hills, Qld

Gazing at the blank page on my laptop screen, I was stumped. What on earth should I write?


A few days before, I’d had an appointment with a psychiatrist.


As a young adult I had turned to drink and drugs as a way to escape difficulties I’d experienced as a child.

But when I was 22, I gave birth to a beautiful baby daughter, Akiaja.


Watching her grow into a loving little girl, I desperately wanted Akiaja to be happy and secure, so I studied counselling and got a steady job.


But sometimes, I suffered flashes of memories I’d tried to suppress.

I knew I had to do something, so in 2000 I went to see a psychiatrist.


‘I have so much emotional baggage,’ I told him. ‘But I want to move on with my life for my daughter.’


‘Why don’t you try writing down all your thoughts?’ the psychiatrist said. ‘It might help clear your head.’


Back home, I reluctantly opened up my laptop.


At first I just wrote about how I was feeling and why.


It was like a journal of my thoughts. Then I wrote about my memories.

My daughter and I today (Credit: Supplied)

As I typed, I started to see the connections between my past and my present. I realised I’d built a wall around myself to stop people getting close.


It was one of many light bulb moments. I felt relieved as everything started to make sense.


I was finally getting rid of my baggage!


I wrote more than 19,000 words in my journal, enough for a book. I found it so helpful that I wanted others to try it.

I’ll make a website and an app, so people can write down their excess baggage, I thought.


So last August I contacted a web design company to help make my dream come to life.


Together we created The Baggage App. It lets people write down their memories and feelings and save them into ‘suitcases’, such as ‘dreams’ and ‘childhood’.

Then, users can go back to what they’ve written and reflect. It also has prompts to help people know what they should write.


I was over the moon when it was finished in December.


I’ve put a lot of my savings into the app, but I don’t expect to get the money back.

I just want to help people to sort out their baggage like I have.

A screenshot of the app (Credit: Supplied)

Originally appeared in that’s life! issue 23, 2016

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