In my normal state of mind I keep a journal – not every day but most days – and enjoy trying to capture the best bits of the day in words, thinking things through on paper, or just letting my mind off the lead for a run around. When the Dog arrives, one of the first things he does is hide the journal. It has been months since I last wrote in it – I am too busy trying to catch up on all the things I should have done but haven’t, too jittery to just let my mind go, too scared of what I might hear if I listen to myself. And recounting all my failures and exploring my fears is the last thing I want to do. So, little by little, I stop listening to me.
I miss me. Over the years I have learned to like myself and – perhaps more importantly – trust my own instincts. I know there is a place inside me that is quite wise and usually able to help me steer myself through life’s rapids if I can only listen to it. But I also know it takes time to access that bit of myself and right now I don’t have the energy or time, much less the inclination, to put in that effort. This blog is one attempt to get back to spending a little time listening to myself each day and making it about a very specific thing means I am less scared of being overwhelmed by a flood of worries. Tonight I took another step back towards opening up a little dialogue with myself and dug out the journal. I set myself just one specific task to do and limited it to five minutes: the task was simply to list the things I have achieved today, however tiny, and to list the things that brought me pleasure.
I liked feeling myself moving in the right direction: just having my familiar notebook back in my hands gives me hope that I will one day be my old journalling self again. Depression makes your default setting the search for danger and it takes an effort of will to do the opposite and look for positives so this simple task does a little to turn that tide. I berate myself each day for my many failings and it makes me miserable and no less likely to fail again in exactly the same ways the next day. But I am not exclusively failing and I have lost sight of that. Listing what I achieved showed me that I am also succeeding at some things and that I am quite a bit better than I was a few months ago when I first crawled back to the doctor and admitted that I was depressed again. Seeing it in black and white makes it seem more real too – hours later I am still satisfied with the fact that I achieved a few things and enjoyed a few things today. The bad things though – they don’t make it onto the page and this diminishes them. The success and pleasure are what really happened today.