I started seeing my first therapist when I was seventeen years old. Daniel was in his twenties, always wore a necktie, and smiled a lot. I saw something on his bulletin board early on and pointed it out to him:
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.
Daniel called this the circle quote, and it was one of his favorite principles (I’ve searched and found it attributed to both Henry Ford and Tony Robbins.) He reminded me of it throughout the time we worked together: sometimes I would be in the middle of complaining about an oft-repeated scenario, and he’d smile and point up to the bulletin board in response. Yep, I’d nod, I do have some control over how this goes.
Depression is often about getting stuck in repetitive unhealthy behaviors and thought patterns. We get stuck in negative self-talk loops, or we continue to engage in relationships that don’t serve us, or we become resigned to the cycle of depression in our lives, accepting it instead of being proactive to work with it and not against it.
The circle quote is a good reminder whenever I’m feeling depressed or frustrated with some aspect of my life: do something different! Change it up! Try and look at something from another point of view, and see if that makes a difference in how you feel about it.
Another example: if you find that you’re always anxious before an encounter with a particular person (coworker, acquaintance, family member), change your approach. Develop some coping strategies, like excusing yourself when you start having those Okay, this is enough, when can I leave thoughts. Do whatever you need to do to make yourself feel at ease. Remember, especially those of us who struggle with social anxiety and depression: it’s not your job to make other people feel comfortable. (It was such a revelation when one of my therapists told me this)
I’m also thinking of the circle quote lately as I try to get back in shape and love my body again. What I’ve always done is not place restrictions on my diet and eat what I love- sound good, right? It’s fun until your metabolism slows and you notice more fat than usual sticking around for longer than usual. I also have a habit of starting exercise routines and keeping them going for a short period of time, then eventually stopping. I’m hoping that with the changes I’ve made lately I’ll be able to see a difference, too. I’ve already seen a big difference in how regular exercise helps my mood and motivation level. Major plus for that one!
Did you know that May is Mental Health Month? I made a commitment with myself to regularly write about mental health topics like depression, anxiety, Seasonal Affective Disorder, panic attacks, and antidepressant medication because bringing these issues out into the open helps to ease the shame that others feel. I write about these things for me, because writing has always been therapeutic for me, and I share these struggles because they need to be talked about just as much as any physical illness.
I pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.