I previously wrote a short post about how I cope with the global pandemic through a number of simple things I do at home that help me alleviate and manage my depression, anxiety, and stress. But despite all the efforts, I somehow still beat myself up for being frustrated at the lack of “progress” I make every day. Being too critical and hard on myself is a trait I’m still trying to work on.
Back in November last year (in-demand season of projects because of the fast-approaching holidays), I stopped taking my antidepressants. It’s a personal decision, not recommended by my doctor, which to this day I do not regret. But don’t get me wrong, abandoning your medications so abruptly is not advisable and could lead to side effects. I admit I’d become irresponsible in doing so. Luckily, I didn’t experience any severe withdrawals.
Anyway, I was so busy catching up with my job then that I didn’t have a regular time to pause and evaluate my mental and emotional state. I was busy, contented, and happy doing the things I love. That was enough for me to keep going. But eventually, it’s taken a toll on my physical health which expectedly reflected on my mental health, albeit not severe as compared to the previous months I badly needed to take antidepressants.
In mid-December, I bought a very pretty neat notebook that I adore immediately the first time I saw it in a book store. My projects are slowing down so I have more time to myself and go on a proper vacation by this time. I researched how to write an effective bullet journal that specializes in monitoring personal mental health, and in no time I saw myself so engrossed in writing every day since.
One thing that astonishes me about writing a bullet journal is that I have a visual representation of my mental health. It has become something more than internalized, living in my head, and what I feel. I can see the patterns where my emotional state would fluctuate, figure out my stressors and act upon them as necessary, and even write down a strict list of what I eat every day to help me motivate and maintain a healthy diet. This makes my mental and emotional state as concrete as ever, making it more “real-life” as I’ve never realized before.
Aside from those mentioned above, I write down the following spreads in my journal:
- Daily gratitude
- Monthly habits
- Daily lists of tasks, physical activities, emotional/mental rating
- Trigger tracker (writing down the last 6 activities or stressors I did for the day, indicating what emotion it triggered in me)
- Travel destination bucket list
- Activities bucket list
- Inspirational quotes
- Random thoughts and ramblings
- To-do list (monthly and daily)
I wouldn’t claim that writing in my journal worked magic on my depression and anxiety, no. But being able to regularly monitor the way I think and feel gave me a sense of power and control over my mental health, putting order into my chaos.
I mentioned earlier that I beat myself up for the lack of progress despite naming the benefits of my journaling. True, that’s what I perceive sometimes. But you have to remember it’s the lying voice of depression deceiving me into believing that all my efforts are in vain.
Being at home now for more than 2 months because of the implemented ECQ (Enhanced Community Quarantine) still frustrates me because somehow I feel helpless, and what the uncertainty of it all does is feed my anxiety. But right now I was given the luxury of time. I could either mope around over the things I don’t have control which would slowly deteriorate my sanity or accept the new normal, take advantage of the opportunity to carefully shift my perspective into order, and nurture my mental and emotional health before I get the chance again to go back out braving the world.