Last Thursday I had an assessment/interview in London for a modelling agency. I passed the assessment, however it turned out to not be what I was looking for and I had to decline their offer.
However I can’t say it was a waste of my time or money because I met a wonderfully wise young woman.
Our assessment slots were at the same time so we got chatting. She was at the agency with her 5-year-old son; she wanted him to grow up to be confident in himself and therefore took him for some modelling. She actually did some modelling herself to pay her tuition fees when she was studying Medicine at university in Pakistan.
Somehow our conversation moved to how we both love writing and I mentioned my blog. I told her about my struggles with depression, and in turn she offered her own story with postpartum depression. That’s when she told me a fantastic self help tip.
This woman is just 29, and she spoke with such wisdom. She explained that every day she makes sure to take some time for herself. And at least once a week, she uses that time for introspection. She looks at herself from an unbiased perspective – like a director with an actor – and considers her achievements and what she can do to become a better version of herself. She recognises actions and feelings that don’t fit with her personality, and nips them in the bud before they fester. She admitted it took some time to master, but it is worth it.
“I am proud to say that I love myself,” she told me. Oh gee, I envied her for that statement! But she truly inspired me, and now I am working towards the same goal.
I now try to reflect on my week every Sunday. I jot down achievements and habits I would like to enforce in my bullet journal (I mentioned the use of a bullet journal in my post, 8 Ideas For Coping With Depression), and try to plan them out for the next week.
If I can come to love myself even half as much as she loves herself, I will have done damn well.
Try it yourself: aim to reflect objectively at the end of each week. Maybe write down a list of things that you did that you are proud of. Here’s a list of achievements I have made this week as an example:
Some of these may not seem to be a big deal, but they are for me. Considering I used to have days where I wouldn’t get up until well into the evening, and get frustrated with myself for not doing the things that I used to enjoy, I’ve done very well this week. It’s a huge step in the right direction, and writing these down in my bullet journal helps me to recognise that. I am slowly getting better.
I don’t focus too much on how I want to improve myself just yet because I’m not ready for it. I still have a tendency to pile a ridiculous list of things to do upon myself, to the point that I crack under the pressure, fail to do anything at all, and thus take a thousand steps back in my recovery. I need to focus on the good points first, which is fine.
I regret not taking that woman’s contact details so that we could stay in touch. Nevertheless, she has given me an effective way to try and change my mindset that my counsellors didn’t offer me. I’m not necessarily ignoring their advice to challenge negative thoughts; I still do my best with that. But I accept that I’m feeling negative, and I can look back at my achievements in my bullet journal and focus on those instead. It doesn’t always help, but I’m definitely doing better with them and my bullet journal now goes everywhere with me.
Self help is a large part of managing depression and other mental illnesses. It can seem daunting, but it is necessary, and tips such as this one help structure a manageable self help regime that suits you and where you are in your recovery. It may take some time to work out the best way to put these steps in place, but if you can find the courage to keep working at it, you will get to a point where “can’t” starts being replaced with “maybe” or “can”.
It’s also important to note that it’s worth having a support network to help you with your achievement lists initially. At first you might not be able to think of anything – I sure couldn’t! – because you’re thinking too much about the ambitious tasks you want to be able to do and haven’t yet. Even if it’s a matter of taking the time to shower, getting out of bed when you don’t feel like it, or reading a couple of pages of a book, you should write it down. It’s an achievement. You could easily have let your mental illness pin you down, but you defied it and won. That is awesome, and we don’t give ourselves enough credit for those victories.
Try it, and let me know how you get on. If you want to message me privately, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep working at it, and keep smiling. You are not alone.