331 is My Number. What Will Yours Be?

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Depression is a disease that many of us fight.  It appears to be more apparent in artists.  The funnier a person seems, the darker they are on the inside.  It’s a sad truth, but I adopted and modified a system to fight it a number of years ago.  If you’re interested, I’ll share it with you.  If not, no worries.  We have a host of other articles guaranteed to interest you.

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In the same way personal trainers or nutritionists require you to record your activity and diet, you should create some form of a system that monitors your daily emotions.  I found that keeping an actual journal was tedious and I only captured entries on a “bad day”.  It created a problem worse than the one I already had.  I’d go back to read my thoughts and not only re-live the bad days, I wouldn’t have any records of the good ones so I’d unfairly remember the past as mostly dark.

The point of the journal was help you get through the tough times by reminding yourself that not all days are like this one.  I thought the best way to do this was simply to use one of two words to describe a day; good or bad.  At the time I started this, I had also started a diet. It was pretty easy.  I could wake up in the morning, weigh myself, write down the date, my weight and mark a “+” representing a good yesterday or a “-” if not.  I started this in 2007.  That year, I went back and counted my markings and was surprised to see that I had 200 good days that year.  Any days that weren’t accounted for I assumed were good because I went out of my way to note the bad ones.

Over the years, I let the diet and the system fall away and I found the weight gain and depression come back.

In 2010, I made a lot of significant changes in my life. One of them was to bring back this system, but I didn’t need to tell anyone about it.  I quietly tracked my days.  2010 was 254.  Quite an improvement from 2007.  2011 was 190.  Though that was the year my daughter was born, I obviously struggled for whatever reason that year.   2012 saw a jump back to 268 and 2013 was 331!!

What happened?  Why did I do this?  I think the exercise helps me in a number of ways.  I’m competitive so I really hated the fact that 2011 was my worst year of the 5 years I tracked this.  I began to look for reasons to make my days good so that I could mark them as good days.  In other words, I was cheating.  I was manipulating my life to always be good.  I was telling myself today was a good day and thinking of all of the reasons why it was good.  It worked.

I also believe that by looking back on these 5 years it was clear that I could not factually say I had a bad year.   I had more good days than bad days and logic alone will tell you that a number subracted from a larger number does not equal a negative number.  It was impossible for me to justify a bad year.  I could claim bad months, bad holidays, bad seasons, but cumulatively, I couldn’t claim a bad year.  In fact, the last 5 years have been good.  I could easily say that 2013 was the best year of my life.

What defines a good or bad day?  I don’t know.  I just ask myself the question and take the first answer.  I think the answer changes day by day as well.  Money used to be very important to me.  The less I care about it, the happier I get.  Relationships are really important to me right now. If I’ve done something to help someone during the day, it usually makes me feel good.  If my daughter interacts with me positively, that helps.  If my wife smiles, that’s huge.

Activity seems to be my largest advocate.  If I’m active, I don’t have time to get anxious, sad or depressed. If I’m busy all of the time, I don’t have time to dwell.  It’s why I write a lot.

My number last year was 331.  That means I claimed 34 days to be bad days last year.  A little less than 3 a month. It was cyclical.  Usually surrounding ticket sales, arguments or failure.  So far, I’m 8 for 8 as of the 9th of January.  Today seems to be okay too.

Shed some light on the problem and it usually isn’t as bad as you think I guess.  I hope this helps someone.  Pass it along to someone that might need it.  Tell me about your battles.  I’d love to pass it along.

9 thoughts on “331 is My Number. What Will Yours Be?

    Joel said:
    January 16, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    If I can ever help you with a +1 just let me know. Miss you brother!

      casey@caseycasperson.com responded:
      January 17, 2014 at 12:40 am

      Don’t you know it. You’re an extremely positive part of my life.

    Lynne Andersen said:
    January 16, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Thanks for sharing. The cheating to have a good day sounds like something I would do. I was in a really dark place this summer. Walking on the beach & writing pulled me out of it. I’m still writing now & working on a new stand up set. HHopefully I’ll be to busy to relapse.

      casey@caseycasperson.com responded:
      January 17, 2014 at 12:39 am

      That makes me very happy. I’d love to see some of your bits!

    Stefanie said:
    January 17, 2014 at 12:10 am

    Casey, I would have never known that you suffer from depression. You seem like the happiest guy in the world!

      casey@caseycasperson.com responded:
      January 17, 2014 at 12:39 am

      I’ll take that as a compliment. I really don’t feel like a I suffer that much anymore. It’s why I felt more comfortable posting this.

    Gayle said:
    January 16, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    Great post. I’m one of those people who usually just take people at face value – you are what you say you are – and don’t think much deeper. But since I’ve never been comfortable onstage or in the limelight, I tend to think people who do it are just more confident. Sometimes theyŕe actually less. They just face the tiger, even chase the tiger, rather than run away. Makes me wonder about the contrary impulses that adrenaline can produce. Why fight, not flight, why this, not that? I think Iĺl become a neurologist in my next life.

      casey@caseycasperson.com responded:
      January 17, 2014 at 7:51 am

      Thanks for the feedback. it means a lot. Life is hard because you only get to live it through one point of view which is why empathy is such a valuable skill to acquire. I think your comment shows you have a lot of it. Thanks Gayle.

    Kathryn kidder said:
    January 17, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    I read that if you don,t feel good, walk like you do.(worked for me) . The corollary to that might be: if you are depressed, smile anyway. If the act itself does not help,the return smiles from the people you meet will.

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