5 Quotes + Tips That Get Me Through Bad Days

 I am the one thing in life I can control.

— Hamilton (Musical)

The following line is equally good — “I am inimitable / I am an original” — but this is the one I find most helpful. You will never be able to control other people’s actions. You will never be able to control what people think about you.  There is only one thing in this world that you have complete control over, and that is you. Your thoughts, your actions, what you put into this world, that’s all you need to worry about. Life gets quite a bit lighter when you accept and let go of the things you can’t control.

Motion creates emotion.

— Tony Robbins

Usually, if you have depression or something similar, everyone tells you to “go outside, get exercise!” with the goal in mind being to rid you of your gloomy depressive haze and make you happy. This quote, however, suggests motion as a means of creating emotion. Any emotion. Because whether we’re angry or happy or anything else, emotion is what gives us the drive to do things. And, often, if you’ve just been lying in bed all day, you don’t currently have a huge breadth of emotions.

The motion doesn’t have to be big, anything to give you a slight change of scene or viewpoint. Depending on the day, it can just be getting out of bed. Judge for yourself what you’re up for. I recommend putting on music you can’t not dance to (which is early 2010s pop for me. Happy nostalgia can be very helpful nostalgia!), but other, less exerting suggestions include: reading a book, taking a walk, sitting outside, calling a friend, texting a friend dumb memes that you know will make you both laugh, and putting on a new outfit and showering if you haven’t already.

Have courage and be kind.

— Cinderella (2015)

This quote has honestly become my life mantra. As long as I have it, I can get through anything, because if my only goal is to be as kind as I can no matter what (disclaimer within reason obviously blah blah blah if someone is stabbing you you don’t need to be nice to them), I no longer have anything to worry about.

Having a goal that’s aimed outwards — trying to make other people feel better rather than trying to make yourself feel better — can take a lot of pressure off, and be really helpful in getting you outside of yourself for a little. When I had auditions and rehearsals that I was really nervous about, my therapist suggested thinking about the nerves of the other people auditioning and rehearsing instead of my own. When we decided that my goal would be to make the people around me feel more comfortable and not worry so much about myself, although I was still scared, it didn’t seem to matter as much anymore. Trying to hide or calm anxiety is an extremely difficult and scary task; complimenting someone is not. So that was my lens: find the good in other people and bring it to their attention. Many times, approaching people in order to give them a compliment was still scary for me, but a smile often suffices when words can’t quite make it out. A quick, genuine smile at someone who looks scared lets them know that you’re on their side, and can go quite a long way.

Living by this quote is also helpful in taking down the stress of arguments and other unpleasant situations. If I feel that someone has been rude to me, but I can recount everything I did as being only kind, I can at least be confident that I did nothing to provoke it. And, referring back to quote one, that means that I can let go of it without worrying about it!

When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.

— Alexander den Heijer

Pretty self-explanatory! ♡

Imma keep running ’cause a winner don’t quit on themselves.

— Beyoncé, “Freedom”

And finally, Queen Bey. This lyric changed how I thought about myself, and about healing myself. I have the potential to do incredible things, to have so many new experiences that change and shape who I am. When I quit on myself, I quit on that future me that would have been. I quit on everything I would have done, and everyone who would have been effected by future me’s existence.

My existence is to be prized and valued, but prizes don’t come without hard work, dedication, and courage. So Imma keep running ’cause a winner don’t quit on themselves. 

1-rbgzf09lrj0adzlywe4d-q

 

Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash

 

You Are Someone’s Light

This is sort of an extension or offshoot of my previous post (actually, the last line of this was the inspiration for my previous post, but I’d saved it as a note on my phone a few days prior to writing the real thing and completely forgot to put it back in).

So yeah, maybe read that post, and then pretend it flows nicely into this one? Or don’t, I mean, whichever, it’s your choice…

ANYWAY, as a writer, and as someone who ha(d/s) depression, it was extremely difficult to go through a period of time where I felt like I could write about nothing but depression. What kind of writer was I if I could only write about one thing? If I had no ideas anymore, and could only write descriptions of whatever I was feeling at the time?

Not the kind I used to be, not the kind I wanted to be, and not the kind I would be in the future. But that didn’t mean that what I was writing then wasn’t just as important as any of the writing I would do before or after.

When you feel really really bad, your writing reflects that, so you think, “What’s the point of putting this out anywhere?” You don’t want to be the one spreading negativity and making other people feel just as bad as you do.

But I’ve learned that, most of the time, that’s not actually what happens. When I first wrote and published something related to depression, I was surprised to find that people were actually thanking me for writing it. I had been able to capture in words something they couldn’t. I have, many times, been in the opposite position of searching and searching for something to describe what I was feeling in a way that I couldn’t, but I hadn’t considered that I could also be the source of one of those things.

But anyone can be. You can be. Out of all the people in the world, there is always someone else going through what you are, who will breathe a sigh of relief and say “thank you” upon finding your words. And for every person who is going through what you are, there is someone who isn’t, who will be grateful to finally understand what a friend or family member is going through because of you.

You cannot write for everyone. Some people will scroll past your work unfazed. But for some, it will be what finally takes just a bit of the crushing weight off their shoulders. And I have found that writing for those people — even if it it’s just a few, or even just one — is enough.

I have learned that even in your darkest moments, you can be someone else’s light.

Depression, Four Years Later ♡ A Message Of Hope

This is probably the most blog-like blog I’ve ever written.  It’s not an essay, it’s not an opinion piece, it’s not a poem, it’s just an update on my life.  And a promise for yours.

Four years ago, when I was 15, I was hit with the worst wave of depression I’ve ever had.  It became extremely difficult to put together simple sentences.  When people would call me by my name, I became legitimately confused, because nothing felt real.  I didn’t feel real.  It took my entire identity, my sense of being.

All my life, I have wanted to be a writer.  Before I could write, I would tell stories to my dolls, and when I learned to write, I wrote all the time.  Being a writer was my identity.  It was, literally, what I lived for.

2014 was the last time I can remember being able to easily write a story.  After then, all I would have was fragments of ideas and forced writing, and I never wrote more than a few paragraphs at a time.

Depression strips you of your personality.  It takes everything that makes you you, and leaves only itself.  After a while, depression becomes your identity because you have nothing else.  You become afraid to get better because then you think, “what will be left?”  It plays games with your head.

Because it was so difficult to describe things then, and being in the depths of depression leaves you in no mood to, I googled “depression” and sent everything that applied to me to my mom.  (I highly recommend doing this! For anything! If there is something you want help for, but can’t talk about, make use of other people’s words!)

But my mom was worried about going on medication, and I was scared of going to therapy, so for a little while things stayed pretty much the same.  My depression was partially seasonal, so there were times in the year when it wasn’t a problem.  But something that was a problem year round was my anxiety and OCD.  A major problem.  So, between things, a while later, I finally went on medication.

I was started at the lowest dose, and very very slowly edged up, after each 20 milligram increase being told the familiar “check back in a month.”  I was very lucky that the first medication I tried worked for me, so from the beginning I was hopeful.  Later, when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, too (yay! even more brain fog, tiredness, and lots and lots of pain!), I would try one that would devoid me of all my energy, and one that made me suicidal.  If those end up being one of your first medications, or any of your medications,  1.) Call your doctor so you can go back off it as soon as possible, and  2.) Don’t think about it too much.  It doesn’t mean you won’t get better, it’s just one option scratched off your list; one step closer to finding something works.  Watch fun movies and treat yourself until you’re able to go on something else.

The medication that did work for me began to lower my anxiety and OCD, and some of the fog in my mind was lifted, leaving space for occasional clear thoughts again.  I had also pushed myself (with the help of my mom) to go to therapy, which was absolutely intrinsic in the process.  If you’re someone who wonders (like I did), “What can I learn from therapy that I can’t learn by myself?” go to therapy.  You will learn so much more than you would have on your own.

You can read books and articles and practice the techniques you find in them, but the books will never talk back to you.  I didn’t realize just how important that aspect was.  Beyond important, it is vital.  A (good) therapist is all the books on your reading list combined, plus years of training and experience in helping people recover.  And another mind; a mind clear of everything you came to them because of.  A mind — a trained mind whose job it is to figure out how to deal with whatever you bring to them — that is focused on you.

With the step up medication gave me, I was able to work with my therapist and begin making progress.  I got to points I never thought I would.  My therapist helped because my medication helped, and my medication helped because my therapist helped.  I went in wanting to pick just one (medication), but that’s not how it works.  They work off each other.  And together, they brought part of me back.

Over the course of time, I had gotten used to the odd feeling of trying to maintain my identity without many of the things that made me me.  I almost considered myself “on hold,” like my imagination and focus and everything were all on vacation, and one day they would be back, but right now I shouldn’t worry too much about them.  But to see them finally coming home was the best feeling ever.

When it seemed clear I was getting all the benefit I could out of the first medication, I began trying additional ones to continue trying to bring the rest of me back.  And, as said before, some worked and some didn’t.  But the one that worked brought back the most painful thing depression and anxiety, and all the fog and noise they put in your mind, had taken from me.  My imagination.

I am writing again.  I am thinking again.  Getting lost in my thoughts again.  Writing stories, watching stories play out in my mind, building on ideas again because I now have the mental stamina to.  I kind of want to go around screaming in everyone’s faces “I’M WRITING STORIES AGAIN!” because this is absolutely huge to me.  I haven’t written — like, actually written, not forced myself to put words on a page — in almost four years.  The part of me that drove me to exist is back.

It took years, it took innumerable doctor’s appointments, it took work, and it’s still not over, but to be able to be myself again is the greatest gift in the world.  The waiting process is slow.  Really slow.  You’ll switch doctors a lot.  You’ll switch medications a lot.  But you will come back.  You will get to meet yourself again, and that reunion will be the greatest moment of your life.  ♡

 


 

Photo by Blake Lisk on Unsplash

How I Became Happier By Giving Up Positive Thinking

I used to think that positive thinking never worked for me because I just wasn’t fully committed to it. I thought it must just be one of those mind over matter things where if you could absolutely, completely, convince yourself you were happy, you would be. And maybe that’s true, but let me tell you, it’s definitely the hard way into positivity and I’ve only ever felt worse from attempting it.

So, if I gave up on even attempting positive thinking, how did I get happier? Well, I didn’t give up so much as I remodeled it. I stopped thinking of it as positive thinking and started thinking of it as productive thinking.

Before I elaborate, I just want to say that I didn’t come up with this reconstruction all on my own. I’ve started regularly using planners from The Happiness Planner and, while they didn’t call it productive thinking, it was their approach to negative things that led me to that title.

At the very beginning of the planner, there’s a section where you have to write in the things that make you feel bad. I fully expected myself to skip this part. I deal with quite a bit of anxiety and off and on depression, so I have a lot of negative thoughts floating around my mind for little to no reason to begin with. Actively trying to pull negativity with actual reasons behind it to the surface on top of that sends me into the Land of Nope Nopity Nope Nope Not Today Nope.

But, because I’m also a fairly motivated and determined person and I wanted to complete the entire planner, I filled it out anyway. To my surprise, instead of freaking out, I actually felt better. This I credit entirely to the format of the planner (I promise I’m not associated with it I just thought it was really good). It doesn’t just tell you to write down the things that make you feel bad and then focus on positive things instead. The exact process it guides you through is: “What makes you feel upset? Is it beyond your control? If not, how can you change it?”

It sounds so obvious whenever I repeat it to anyone, but after years of having things like “Happy thoughts only!” and “Focus on the good!” drilled into my mind under the guise of positive thinking, it didn’t even occur to me anymore to just acknowledge a bad situation, ask myself if I could do anything about it, and either let it go if I couldn’t or get to work if I could.

I took this line of thinking outside the planner and immediately felt a huge release. It wasn’t a magic cure-all solution, but it was light-years better than my old attempts at positive thinking.

See, this is what my head used to look like when I tried to “think positive”:

“Man, it’s been a really bad day. I feel awful.

Oh, wait  —  that’s a negative thought! Uhhh, okay, positive thought, positive thought . . .

I feel good. There, yeah, I feel good! The rest of today’s gonna be good. Just smile, be happy.

I’m lying. I feel awful. I’ve had a bad day and I feel awful.

No! I feel GOOD! Everything’s GREAT! Look, I’m SMILING!

Maybe I should just go audition for that muppet on Sesame Street who lives in the trash.”

The end result is that by trying to push out the “bad thoughts,” I end up dwelling on what made me feel bad way longer than I would have if I’d just acknowledged that I was having a bad day and moved on.

It’s like trying to teach yourself math just by saying “Think mathematically.” Where are the steps? Where are the formulas? Where are the practice sheets? It just doesn’t work. You’ll end up staring at the first problem all day trying to will your brainwaves into working like Einstein’s.

Not to mention, even if you succeed in warping a bad situation into a good one, you’ll start getting dependent on being able to happify everything, and there are some things in life that just aren’t happy and aren’t meant to be.

Productive thinking is about steps. It’s about making progress. It’s about keeping yourself moving forward no matter how you feel. It’s about letting go of the things you can’t change instead of trying to force them into the positivity mold.

This is my thought process now that my aim is to think productively:

“Wow, I feel really bad today. Well, sometimes going for a walk makes me feel better, so I’ll try that, but if it doesn’t work out, I’ll accept that I just feel bad today and keep going anyway because bad days are okay, too.”

You’ll probably still hear me use the term “positive thinking” just because it’s what I and most other people are used to, but in my opinion it tends to lead people in the wrong direction. It’s okay to focus on the good. It’s okay to do everything you can to try to make yourself and others feel good. What’s not okay is trying to force everything into the Box of Goodness.

Consider positivity your pet cat. If you try to pick it up and put it where you want it, it’ll keep getting up and walking away. But if you leave it be and get to work, you’ll turn around to find it sprawled across all your belongings.

 


 

Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel on Unsplash