My Sticky Note Calendar: Dealing with Anxiety and Depression

I’m not sure when my depression began.

Sometime at the beginning of last year, after my grandfather passed away and I was graduating from college, I slipped away into a rather dark place. I spent the rest of the year in Chile teaching English, completely confused as to why I was so down on myself and my surroundings. I loved Chile, my students, and the beautiful people I met, but I still cried a lot and wouldn’t leave bed unless it was absolutely necessary. It wasn’t homesickness; it was my mental health issues I thought I could ignore.

In January after coming home, I rarely got out of bed or left the house during the day. I was having suicidal thoughts, but I was too afraid to tell anyone. There was little I ate or did that would usually make me happy. On top of this depression was my anxious brain, torturing me with vivid images of my failures, living at home forever, not being good enough, never getting a full-time job….

It was the lowest point of my life.

I want you to know that if you’ve ever felt this way, it doesn’t last forever and there are ways that you can get help even if you feel hopeless or without a support system. There are tons of options for treatment from therapy to support groups, psychiatrists and medication. You are not the only person who has felt this way, I promise you 100%. I wanted to share some things that helped me during this time in my life, and some things I really needed to hear.

Some things I needed to hear…

Some things I did…

This is all personal and close to my heart so I’ve hesitated on sharing, even though I’m an open book. The reason I decided to write this is because I could have used a story like mine when I was at my lowest. I would have loved to hear someone say “F*ck the mental health stigmas! I’m depressed! It’s okay to get help!”

It really is okay. You aren’t weak or less of a person. I went to a psychiatrist. I went to a therapist. I’m doing everything I can do to get better. Everyone should have a therapist anyways!

When I finally got help in March of 2019, I started a sticky note calendar on my wall. I realized I was having trouble looking forward to things and taking each day one step at a time. I wrote down the days of the week on sticky notes at the top and simply made columns below for the month with more sticky notes.

Each time I made plans, I would write them down so I remembered what I had to be excited for. Each day I’d try to remember what happened, whether I had fun or was anxious. It was also a reflective experience, allowing me to understand that my days were usually getting better and not worse. Because of the physical presence of the calendar, I’d have to look and remember it each day.

Today I still use the calendar. It’s on a wall at the end of my bed so it’s one of the first things I see when I wake up. I’ve added monthly, sometimes weekly, goals that I try to complete. I think doing this for myself was also one of my most important steps towards getting better.

Journaling is helpful

Writing down how you feel can also really help you let out your emotions and be able to examine them later when you’re feeling better. I don’t do this every day, but sometimes I have to remind myself…

My mom isn’t my therapist. My sister isn’t my therapist. My best friend isn’t my therapist. My boyfriend isn’t my therapist

I think having a support system is so important, but at the same time they can’t always handle my burdens, just as I can’t handle their’s. It’s a good idea to ask someone if they have the time and emotional stability to talk about what you need to get out. I’ve begun doing this and asking others to please ask me first. It’s really helped me be more reflective as well instead of running to vent to my friends. I have more positive things to discuss with them.

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