You expect that coming home from a great holiday, that was both relaxing and rewarding, would leave me feeling great, ready to face work, life, and everything in between. But I feel flat, I feel shitty, and I feel exhausted and sore. Probably what they say is the holiday blues, if there is such a thing. Or is it that I fear the uncertainty of reality, working, hustle n’ bustle, living with a mental illness, putting the bloody mask up, and trying to continue on the road to recovery without taking a side street where I will meet my Black Dog. All of these things are on my mind with one day left before life becomes really hard again.
A fellow blogger recently wrote about writing one thing every day that you are grateful for to train the depressive brain to start to think about the positives in your day rather than dwelling on the negatives or things that went wrong. I have taken a leaf from this book and I now have a diary that I will write in each day. I will write what I am grateful for each day, it doesn’t matter how big or small it is, what is important is that I write something.
The second item I will write is one thing in my day that has given me ‘purpose’ or I have felt purpose. By purpose I don’t mean the purpose of your job or the purpose of your uni essay, it is a purpose that you have felt during your day, big, small or in between, it doesn’t matter. It could be that you felt purpose when you made a lovely meal for your loved one, or a purpose when you planted something in your garden, or purpose that you felt from walking your dog. What you write as your purpose each day though, needs to be a positive purpose because the aim of these diary entries is to reflect on our day and see the good things, even the small or minute things, because by seeing these we are retraining our brain from the thought patterns inherent in the depressives brain.
The third entry is what you have ‘achieved’ during the day. I know what you are thinking “I don’t achieve anything”, or “I’m too depressed to achieve anything”, but as they say don’t sweat the big stuff. You achieve something every day – you get out of bed, you have a shower (yes I know that many of us with depression don’t), you ring someone or talk to someone on Facebook, or you go for a walk – these are what healthy people may say are rather simple and easy to achieve but for us, depressives, these simple things are major obstacles in our day, huge things that are near impossible each day. So don’t sweat the big stuff, the smallest things that you achieve are the start.
The final item that I write each day is how I have felt ‘closeness’. You might feel closer to a friend or relative who has spoken to you, or checked on you, or you might feel closer to a pet or a neighbour who said hi, you might feel closer to feeling better, or closer to leaving the house, or closer to your doctor because something is working. As I have said it doesn’t matter how small or how big what you write is, what matters is that you write something.
The theory behind these daily diary entries is to retrain the depressive brain from automatic negative thinking to thoughts that are positive, something good. It is the theory that once in the habit of reflecting upon these thoughts our day to day thinking, thoughts and emotions will also move down the positive thinking track.
It’s ironic as I write this, all that is going through my mind is automatic negative thinking spurred on by the onset of work on Monday, and all that comes with train travel, long days, mania, and keeping the mask on. It takes time for our mindset to change from negative to positive thinking, one step at a time. My first step is reflecting upon each day and finding what I am grateful for, purpose, what I have achieved, and closeness that I felt. With time I hope that this small thing in each day will bring automatic positive thinking that will help in my ability to live with depression.