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Why #3goodthings works for me

Anyone who follows me on twitter (@depressednotsad) will know that I have been doing #3goodthings for a month now. I wrote a previous post on why I started it, but I guess I wanted to tell you WHY I think #3goodthings is working for me, and why I’m still doing it!

Firstly I want to say I am not a natural “positive thinker”. I’m a bit* of a (*big) pessimist, and I’m very self-critical. During an episode of depression this is probably worse than normal. I think over the last year I have felt that many of my self-criticisms seem to have come true….”I’m ugly and I’m a rubbish wife”-and my husband left me, “I’m terrible at my job”- I took a secondment as I couldn’t cope with the stress of my usual role, “I’m damaged and broken”-I’m struggling with an episode of depression again (yet still not properly dealing with the problems that helped caused the damage in the first place). I’m also in a house I just don’t love anymore, my closest friends have partners and families so I feel I don’t fit in and often feel lonely. Overall I’ve been feeling pretty rubbish! And to cut a long story short after nearly a year of not feeling significantly different I felt desperate. Desperate for something to make me feel “better” as I felt my usual “toolkit” had been exhausted. I thought I knew all the things I *should* do to feel better….but I didn’t have the energy to exercise and not eat junk, nor the concentration to read or meditate. So I felt worse as I couldn’t even find the strength to do things to make me feel better anymore. In fact I’d lost sight of what it was that actually *did* make me feel better. So many people had so much advice I didn’t know which to take. I’d totally forgotten who I was. I’d spent so long just surviving that I didn’t feel anything made me happy anymore.

But then something happened. It was “suggested” that I attend a resilience course at work. I was cynical about it! How the hell was some trainer going to teach me about resilience in 3 hours? They were bound to have a “pull yourself together” attitude and not understand what it was like to suffer with mental health issues. Except when I got there that wasn’t the case at all! The trainer opened up the course by telling everyone a bit about himself, including that he has bi-polar. Immediately I took more notice, as maybe this guy might actually “get it”? Maybe he won’t preach at me and tell me all the things that I’m doing “wrong”? I was right, he didn’t. In brief he delivered a course that helped everyone decide for themselves what they needed to do to help themselves to be more resilient. One of my goals was better selfcare-doing one thing every day that was just for me! But I still struggled as I still didn’t know *what* I should do for myself.

Then I was offered individual coaching, and part of the initial process was working out what I wanted to achieve -which for me was as basic as “feeling better” . He made me think about what feeling better might look like, who or what may be involved in that, what my core values are and how important they each are to me. It was really difficult but it made me think deeply about who and what was important. Then the first piece of homework he set me was #3goodthings. He told me that it would not take away the “bad” things or the depression, but may make me “re-frame” my day. He also reminded me that the #3goodthings could on a “bad” day be just getting up, or eating, or taking meds, or surviving. I was cynical! But what did I have to lose? I was desperate remember?!

But #3good things has been fantastic for me! It started off as a bit of a chore, as it’s not always easy to think of 3 good things when you are struggling with depression. Some days I felt I was using the smallest and most random things. But quickly a pattern emerged. The things that I realised were on my list most days were my daughter (probably predictable), my friends (both real-life and virtual), exercise, music and eating well (although not always healthily). So as someone who had forgotten what made me happy I suddenly started remembering. This is turn made me realise
this is where I should invest my time and (limited) energy. The funny thing is when you start doing more good things you feel happier, which in turn gives you more energy, which you can then use for more good things (as well as for the other more mundane stuff like work!) I also found that as I was posting them on twitter other people started joining in. But it also had the effect of making other people feel more positive. Which in turn makes me more positive.

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(Thanks to @aweebithopeful and @bdogrunner for letting me use this screenshot)

I also found myself doing the one thing I thought I’d never do, which is to do something just so I had something for #3goodthings. One Sunday a few weeks ago I’d had a rubbish, “no energy” day where I’d spent most of the day in bed. My little one was with her dad. It was teatime, and I had nothing! So I literally dragged myself to the gym. I even sat outside having a tantrum to myself that I didn’t want to go in. However I decided 10mins was better than nothing. But 10mins turned into 40mins, and when I left I was starving so had some nice food. Before I knew it I had #3goodthings.

Do I think that #3goodthings has “cured” my depression? NO!! But, what it has helped me tap into is #selfcare. As I already said, I’m not good at being kind to myself. I’d forgotten who I was and what I liked, so how could I be kind? But the reminder that it’s the little things, not necessarily the big things that make you happy has massively helped. I’m re-discovering me! I feel more positive. I’m remembering the reasons to keep fighting the depression. I think I might even be turning a corner and feeling a bit better! 😊

I don’t know if #3goodthings would work for the people reading this as I think different strategies work for different people. However perhaps it’s a good reminder not to be so cynical and to try things. Because sometimes the little things make a big difference.

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