depression · happiness · mood management · parenting · Self improvement

Three Positive Things

This is a tried and tested technique in boosting gratitude and happiness.

It was introduced to me about 10 years ago by a hypnotherapist I was working with.  I used to text my friend who struggles with anxiety every day to make her do this because I’d found it so helpful.  

She hated me a little bit.  Imagine feeling at your lowest ebb and your friend sends you a “heeeey, what Three Positive Things happened today?” message.  You’d want to punch that friend in the face.  Somehow, she still agrees to hang out with me (I did it every day for months though??).

Anyway, hypnotherapist lady set me the challenge that each day I had to write down three positive things about the day, no matter how apparently trivial or how bad the day had felt overall.  For example, I went to see her one day after a dreadful day in work where I was feeling really rather despondent.  She asked me if I could recall pausing at any point that day and drinking a cup of tea.  I could.  It was a brief reprieve from a shitty day…like a hug in a mug.  So that was one Positive Thing.

Get it? If your day was dreadful, it’s basically about finding the tiniest exception.  It’s not ground breaking, but it does help.

Stage 2 is listing three things you are looking forward to for tomorrow.  You might have a day ahead that you’re dreading because you have a meeting pending with your least favourite client…So perhaps you’re looking forward to leaving the office tomorrow when the meeting will be done and it will no longer be on your mind.

So here are today’s Three Positive Things:

  1. The baby and I paddled in the sea today and it made her giggle.
  2. My husband and I had a nice cwtch (we’re married, we have a small person, we don’t really do touching anymore because it’s a bit gross and it made me pregnant).
  3. I went for a walk along the sea front ON MY OWN this evening.  It was bliss to be on my own; the thing I miss the most being a parent.  I spent an hour strolling in the very warm summer air, taking in the smells of flowers I walked past and standing to watch the beautiful, merging shades of blue and purple as I looked across at the glassy surface of the sea.  Not a toddler poo in sight.

Three Things for Tomorrow:

  1. I am going to the beach with the girls from baby group and it will be good to socialise.
  2. I am going to buy a sun lounger so I can use the back garden during ma’am’s nap time.
  3. I am looking forward to seeing my baby’s excited face when her Daddy comes home from work (even though his status of Favourite Parent is well annoying).

Go on.  Do it.  You know you want to.

depression · happiness · mood management · Self improvement

Why I will not tickle “The Black Dog’s” tummy .

I procrastinate a lot.

I am perpetually late for all things.  I was actually 25 minutes late for our wedding.  My husband tells me there was never even the tiniest part of him that doubted I was coming (I like to think he found it oddly comforting).

Here and there I have bursts of ideas and enthusiasm but then I dither and I forget very quickly or I lose motivation and those ideas evaporate into little clouds of missed opportunity.

I also get really, really tired all the time.  I operate at one speed, which is slooooooooow.

If I was left to my own devices I would go to bed at 1am and get up at about 11am.  I would also nap.  Oh! how I would nap.

I suffer with a crippling, debilitating self-doubt that has blighted my life for as long as I can remember and has, no doubt, kept me operating at about 30% of my potential.  (On the plus side, maybe I’m actually like Bradley Cooper in Limitless and when fixed I will be super-human and quite awesome – and hopefully a little bit sexy to boot).

More recently though, I have begun to struggle to process the details of what people are telling me and I have a heavy fog in my brain where information no longer seems to flow in and out.

I decided to go and see my GP, having decided in advance it would simply be a thyroid issue.  They would prescribe me some medication and all would be fixed. Simple.

But the blood tests were all normal.

It turns out I have depression.

If I am being entirely honest, this was not a a shock to me.  I have a memory of being 5 years old and thinking how hard life was and that I didn’t enjoy being alive very much and would quite like to go to sleep and not wake up.  It makes me really sad now to think of 5 year old me feeling like that.  For the avoidance of any doubt: 5 year olds should not feel so sad they don’t want to wake up. That is never OK.

I have plugged away at life over the years with a distinct absence of joy, never fully engaging with it and always feeling that I was looking in at the world from the outside, a bit of a spectator. I have always been in awe of other people’s ability to do fun and interesting and new things…to be a certain way, learn a new skill; but never at any point have I believed I could take a bit of that for myself.

I see obstacles everywhere.  The glass isn’t half empty; there’s actually nothing in it whatsoever because some bastard poured it all away.

At my best, I bob along feeling a bit sad and tired and bored.  Along the way I have had some epic lows and I sometimes ponder on how I made it through my teenage years alive.  Upon finding my diaries from that joyous age they made for such depressing reading that I made a bonfire to hide the evidence. Prozac Nation has nothing on that tome.

Still. I have “coped.” Whatever coping is.

So what about The Black Dog?

I decided to go and see a private psychotherapist about this depression epiphany/begrudging acceptance of the facts.  She talked to me when we first met about the analogy of The Black Dog (and sent me this link here by The World Health Organisation if you aren’t familiar with it):

I had seen reference to it before in the hashtags and social media posts of “others.”

I am genuinely sorry other people feel this way too.  It is really crap and it does feel very unfair.  It doesn’t feel like life is a level playing field sometimes.

However; depression is not a pet.  It is not to be nurtured and stroked under the chin.  It does not need to be patted on the head and have its belly rubbed like it is “mine” or “ours.”  I do not want it.  I did not ask for it.  It is not welcome in my house. The Black Dog, frankly, can f*** off.

I became a mum a year ago to a beautiful, funny and remarkably happy little girl.   She is my delight and she is the most special and wonderful thing that I (“we” if we’re being technical – but I grew her from scratch) have ever created.  I will not allow her happiness to be dampened by me imparting gloom.

So this blog here is my two fingers up to depression and is where I hope to create a space to reclaim my life, my happiness and the happiness of my family.

Consider it a family well being project.

This blog will be a journey to find happiness in the everyday.  This is where I will ponder on how my husband and I will raise a child who manages her feelings and life’s lemons in a way that frees her to be who and what she wants.

This is where I figure out how I’m going to try to carve out space in the world as a parent, as a mother, as a 30 something year old woman who needs to try a bit harder than some at being happy.

So on behalf of 5 year old, sad little me and to all the sad people or just “meh” people everywhere…

Welcome to The Happiness Takeover.