I think I come across as pretty together. In truth, I’m kinda a clusterfuck. I have depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia and the associated eating disorder. Add in the language-based learning disability… and we have a royal clusterfuck.
I believe in giving credit where credit’s due, this post is brought to you by two other posts:
What people with high-functioning depression want you to understand (this sums me up really well),
I tried the bullet journal thing earlier this year, because yay an awesome way to organise stuff! I love being organised. It really helps to soothe my anxiety. When I get really uptight, I organise. Sometimes that’s by cleaning and tidying the flat, others it’s by planning the marketing on my books, and sometimes it’s just tidying up my Dropbox files.
I didn’t stick with the bullet journal because I wasn’t doing it in a way that worked for me. I was trying to do it like everyone else.
If you read through the hundreds of bullet journal ideas, they’re mostly tracking things and to-do lists. That sounded amazing to me! Woohoo colour, and organisation, and oh it’d be wonderful. But it wasn’t.
You see the problem is, I’m very much a type-A personality. I push very hard. If you read that article on high functioning depression, then you’ll note that people like me are never satisfied with ‘normal’ goals. We have to push harder, do better. It’s never good enough.
That leads to insane to-do lists, lofty unreachable goals, and then the inevitable crash because I couldn’t tick those things off. I couldn’t possibly have ticked them off. I felt like a failure.
Then I read the article on using a bullet journal for my mental health, and went, you know what? This could work.
I won’t using a lot of the things they suggest, and I’ll explain why.
They suggest things like a habit tracker, which is a fantastic idea! It allows you to see what does and doesn’t work for you, and where you can make improvements. Unfortunately, it’d become yet another thing to obsess over for me. It’d be more numbers to watch, another thing to become anxious over.
When you scroll down further, you’ll see ‘cool ideas’ and these are where it really starts to work for me.
The first is instead of using to-do lists, use done lists. It’s so easy to keep adding to the to-do lists, then everything becomes too much. It goes from being something useful, into something that judges me and then all of those tasks close in around me, and the next thing I know I’m shutting down.
Done lists however are awesome! I write down what I’ve done, what I’ve accomplished for that day. So for today it would be four hours of freelance work, three blog posts, fifteen pages of editing on I.A, and one load of laundry. That looks pretty good when I write it down!
That shifts the focus away from the pressure, from the great looming mountain of stuff to be done, and puts it on accomplishments and happy things. It’s no longer a negative concern, it’s a smile-worthy achievement.
Next they have a gratitude log. Again, what a great idea! Taking a moment out of your day to make a note of things your grateful for is wonderful. It gives you something to smile about and it’s another positive focus. That’s what this really comes down to. It’s so, so, easy to fall into the negativity spiral. It’s so easy to obsess over the negative things. This however is a happiness, it’s an anchor into positivity.
Another suggestion I loved was a list of self-care things for when you feel down. You write down what works for you. For example on mine I put:
- Take a walk.
- Read some chapters of a book.
- Read through my planning book.
- Make sure I’ve eaten recently.
- Have a big glass of water.
Being dehydrated will throw off your mood, as will low blood sugar levels, and sometimes you just need to get out and about.
The entire purpose of this, is to be something positive that helps me through the darker times. So what pages have I created and am I going to use?
I have my monthly goals and achievements. I’ve been really careful to make sure those goals are achievable. The entire point is to have them high enough that I feel good, and low enough that I really can do it.
I also have my daily done lists, daily ‘things that made me smile’ and hard deadlines. They’re the deadlines that absolutely must be hit such as when I have to send edits back to a client.
That’s all there is to mine. Maybe I’ll add more things as time goes, but right now, minimal is best. It’s a nice little log that shows me I’m not a failure. I am getting stuff done, I’m achieving goals, and generally progressing quite nicely. Then when the darkness strikes I can look at it and remind myself that I am going somewhere, I am doing things.