Sunday, August 22, 2010


I have tried so many different ways to combat depression. Ignoring it and soldiering on. Exercising. Watching good movies and TV shows. Reading. Cooking. Eating. Spending time with people. Spending time alone. Therapy. Medication. Meditation. Acupuncture. Massage. Keeping good posture. Trying to be of use to others. Working a lot. Working a little. Reading about depression. Reading self-help books. Writing positive affirmations. Trying to be positive. Ranting and raving. Listening to music. Singing. Writing poems. Writing a diary. Writing a blog.

Sometimes all this seems like an indication of how strong and determined I am to beat, or at least learn to manage, my depression. That I am responding to my problems in a way that shows I am tough and resilient.

Other times it just seems like a laundry list of distractions that I use to avoid the fact that I am a miserable and lonely failure. That I will always be struggling, always on the outside, always unhappy with myself. That I should just accept that, give up, and get on with being miserable.

But that way lies madness. And I am not too keen on that. So I keep trying new things. And sometimes they even work.

Something I have been trying recently is to feel gratitude. To appreciate my life, and the experiences I have. And it helps a little.

Recently, a friend from San Francisco suggested writing a gratitude list. But just doing this once didn’t seem enough. For about a year I tried writing positive affirmations each day. At first this seemed to help a lot, but after a while the effect faded.

So recently, I have decided to join the two ideas. Each morning, in a notepad I fill a page with the things about the previous day that I am grateful for, that I appreciate. These can be experiences that I enjoyed, things I achieved, or realizations I have made. They can also be about negative things too.

I wish I didn’t have to deal with this depression. But I do. I have tried ranting, raging, and despairing. It doesn’t help. So now I’m trying gratitude instead.

We all face so many challenges in life. We face a lot of pain, a lot of problems. This is a given. But I am gradually reaching the conclusion that responding to this with anger, resentment and frustration is not productive. I am also coming to think that it is the challenges we face that make us strong. Life is a struggle. But every day is another chance. Every problem is another opportunity to become a little wiser, a little more grateful for what we have.

And maybe, just maybe, a little happier.


  1. I also keep a notebook, not so much a journal, but a record of things I have done in a particular month towards a certain goal. Since it is only a record, short term goals, ideas and plans go on sticky notes inside the cover.

    If feels good to have an idea, list out the steps I need to take to achieve it, then finally being able to make the notation once I have achieved what I wanted (or the reasons it couldn't be achieved). Originally I started it just to keep a record so I could analyze my progress and look for areas I missed or mistakes I made, but it has had the great side-effect of keeping me motivated and giving me a sense of purpose.

    Now I've gotten a tad attached to it, and couldn't resist personalizing it with stickers, inserts, flyers and the like.

    Good thing, notebooks...

  2. I'm not the type of person to sit down and write about things I am thankful for. It hasn't really worked for me in the past. So I guess now I just try to think about the things I am thankful for as they pop into my mind. Or if a negative thought comes up I try to change it a bit into something not so depressing. You have really made a lot of progress. The road is still long but keep steady and continue through \(^_^)/

  3. I really see a lot of the thoughts I have about myself, in your writing. What I've learnt over the last months though is that I'm not the only person out thinking terrible, negative things about themselves. Reading your blog and identifying similarities is actually a comfort to me now. I used to feel completely isolated and different to everyone else, but, now with the help of my psychologist and support network, I can see that I'm not alone. In the past, when I have felt my most anxious and depressed a common thought was 'why can't I just be normal?' Funny thing is, depression and anxiety disorders are so common now, I actually AM normal. lol.

    I like the idea of a gratitude journal. I guess I kind of use my blog as a way to journal what I'm grateful for. I feel like it helps me get perspective.

    I love that you identify yourself as 'tough and resilient'. I do to. We are. Don't ever forget that.

  4. One of the things that has bugged me the most about chronic depression is how non-depressed people offer easy fixes. I haven't a clue what causes my depression, although day-to-day circumstances certainly play a role....

    I actually have no insights whatever to offer....

    That said... Staying busy with activities I enjoy, and having something of a social life seem to help, yet I find most of what I do boring, and I find most people boring too--and even treacherous. So...

    Reading your blog helps some, actually.

  5. P.S. I don't follow your blog!!! A simple oversight, I assure you.

  6. Hello everyone, and thank you all for your comments!

    A bathing ape - I often write a daily "to do" list, but I have never done it in an organized a fashion as you describe. It is something worth thinking about.

    Noodlefingers - thanks for the encouragement, and you are right, different things work for different people. Finding the thing that works for each of us is tricky.

    Tiffany - thanks for your comments. I never really thought about things that way, but it does seem like depression and anxiety disorders are almost normal these days. Unfortunately, so is hiding them, which seems to only help them fester on for longer.

    Snowbrush - thanks for coming by and following! I am glad to hear that my blog helps somewhat. I don't really have any solutions either, but I'm just plugging along doing the best I can.

  7. My previous message to you was this: as you're counting your blessings and feeling grateful,apply this to yourself, D.R. You're so incredibly intelligent, courageous and compassionate. Everything starts on a micro-cosmic level before the larger world is effected. It's not easy when you have depression to see yourself in the light as always opposed to the darkness. You've already demonstrated how much you have to give others here on your blog...

  8. Hi Wendy,
    Thanks for your nice comment. You are right, we have to make changes within ourselves before the larger world outside is effected. I think I am slowly doing that.