Fighting depression – one small step at a time
“I was in denial about my depression and anxiety for a long time. Even after I’d considered the possibility that You-Know-What was actually affecting me, I didn’t do anything about it. I thought I could sort it myself. I was just being lazy, just being boring, just being silly. If I just made myself get up and do things, I would go back to being me, right?”
If I just made myself get up and do things, I would go back to being me, right?
“Wrong. It didn’t take a long time to work that one out. Getting out of bed was hard. Getting into work was a big deal. Getting through the day was really tough. Getting through the day without crying seemed impossible.
My first step was to Google things like “self-help”. Thanks to Google’s clever spying software, my Facebook and internet was then full of ads for mindfulness and meditation apps. I gave some of them a go. What the hell. I had nothing to lose (except the tiniest amount of drive I had at the time to get better). Meditation apps started with the “easy” task of finding ten minutes in your day to meditate. “Clearing your mind as if it were made of glass”. Much, much easier said than done. I was finding it difficult to sit still for thirty seconds, let alone ten minutes. The idea of trying to sort through the mess that was my mind at the time filled me with dread and anxiety. I instantly felt worse. If I couldn’t organise my own thoughts and sit quietly for ten minutes, I had no hope, had I?”
In a last ditch attempt, I thought I’d see what this whole “micro-action” thing was about.
“It was then I came across YOU-app. In a last ditch attempt, I thought I’d see what this whole “micro-action” thing was about. My first action made me breathe a sigh of relief:
“Take a moment. Breathe, look around and notice your environment.”
I was just getting off the bus and realised I was in one of my favourite spots in Manchester; I could see the cathedral, which was perfectly reflected in the river. I snapped it, and uploaded it to my profile. This action prompted another, which prompted another. Soon, I had built up quite the collection of “micro-actions” on my profile, along with a small handful of people on the YOU community who would like my posts from time to time and comment on them; always reassuring, always encouraging.”
One day, my better choice was to ring the doctor about my depression. Another day, it was to go for a walk instead of self-harming.
“Soon, I noticed a micro-action that worked particularly well for me, and chose it as my “keep it up action”: “Make a better choice”. Every day, I would be prompted to upload a photo as evidence that I had made a better choice. Some days, it would be to get off the bus a stop earlier. Some days, it would be eating an apple instead of a chocolate bar. Some days, it would be a text to a friend instead of convincing myself she was ignoring me. Some days, I wouldn’t upload anything. That was okay too. No pressure, no standards, no failure. Just small, baby steps. One day, my better choice was to ring the doctor about my depression. Another day, it was to go for a walk instead of self-harming.”
I have made 241 steps towards becoming me again. Towards being the person I know I am, despite my personal internal demons trying to convince me otherwise.
“Since that first photo from the bus (which I now think about every time I can see the reflection of the cathedral in the river), I have completed 241 posts. Not many, compared to some. But this isn’t about comparing myself to other people. This is about helping myself be happier, and healthier, one baby step at a time. As YOU explained to me on that first day:
“Your life is the sum of small actions. Over time, small actions add up to big results.
1 + 1 + 1 + … = A LOT.”
“So far, I have made 241 steps towards becoming me again. Towards being the person I know I am, despite my personal internal demons trying to convince me otherwise. I’m not there yet. But those 241 baby steps mean I am a lot closer than I was before. By next week, maybe I’ll be another 7 steps closer again. Maybe I’ll only be another 2 steps closer. Either way, it’s all progress.”
Have you experienced something similar and how did or do you deal with it? Tell us in the comments.