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.
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.