Love, Wellness

I couldn’t escape my depression, until I discovered something incredible that saved me

I didn’t know that I carried a little therapist around in my backpack every day.

I’ve had chronic depression for the past four years.

I like to tell people that it’s because of my PCOS, but that’s not exactly true. Yes, the imbalance in my hormones has made me more prone to depression. Even taking The Pill for regulating my periods has given me pretty severe depression.

Go figure, right?

But it’s also other things. Experiences I’ve had in the past have made depression a recurring shadow in my life. Just when I feel like I’ve made progress, like maybe I can move past it, it comes back even harder than before.

And yeah, it sucks. I’m not going to sugarcoat it and tell you that I’m brave and strong, capable of dealing with anything that comes my way. There are days when I can’t leave the bed. There are days when I consider hurting myself. That’s as real as it gets here, folks.

But of course, I want to deal with it. I want to feel in control and healthy, I don’t just want to pretend like I’m fine, or give up completely. I believe that my life is worth fighting for.

So imagine my surprise when I discovered that bullet journaling, of all things, was helping me cope with my mental health. Of course, there are many ways I deal with my depression, bullet journaling is just one of them.

It all started when I watched this video by Lucie Fink for Refinery 29:

The cutesy way that Lucie presented the bullet journal caught my eye. As a self-professed holographic colors fanatic, all I wanted out of the journal was something fun and bright that I could basically procrastinate on every day.

Of course, I wanted to be productive too.

So I went out and bought a beautiful pink, Instagram-cute journal. I planned on filling it with stickers, notes, a little bit of poetry and doodles. Honestly, I didn’t take it seriously.

But the moment I sat down and opened up the bullet journal website, things started to feel different. I was going through a bit of a rough patch at the time and simply hoped this journal would take my mind off things for a bit.

But I started writing and writing and writing and… I couldn’t stop.

Suddenly, what had started off as hesitantly-drawn titles became pages and pages of thoughts. I wasn’t just writing what I had to do that day, I was writing down how I was feeling too.

Let me explain. The bullet journaling website advises that “Event entries, no matter how personal or emotionally taxing, should be as objective and brief as possible when Rapid Logging. The Event “movie night” bears no more or less weight than “best friend moves away.” That being said, once you’ve rapid logged an Event, feel free to write about it at length on the next available page.”

So when I jotted down the event that I had to “do the laundry”, other things started to come up too. I sat there, looking at that little, meaningless task. I knew how insignificant it was, but seeing it written down made me feel angry and scared and kind of trapped.

So I turned the page over and wrote. I wish I could tell you what I wrote about, but honestly, that’s not as important as why. I wrote because I needed to have an objective thing listen to me, something I didn’t need to pay an hourly rate to. I needed to pour out my feelings without hesitation. I made spelling errors, messed up the grammar, bled the ink a little bit and all of it was pure bliss.

After an hour of pure writing, scribbling and coloring in, I closed my book and felt… safe.

And, oh yeah, I did the laundry too.

It didn’t cure my depression. Of course, the next day I woke up and I still felt pretty bad. But I got out of bed, made myself a cup of tea and opened up to a new page. I jotted down a list of things I had to complete that day, and once I’d done them I wrote about how productive my day had been. I wrote about how that made me, well, happy.

I felt happy.

So no, I don’t believe that the bullet journal solved my mental health issues. I don’t believe I can turn to it and, like magic, it will fix all my problems and yours too.

But I do believe that it gave me a sense of achievement.

I felt more in control that I’d ever felt in years. I felt like I could be productive with my illness in ways that I’d never been able to before.

And it helps me remember to do the laundry.