For anyone who suffers from mental health issues, it will not come as a surprise to you when some days you find yourself struggling to even get out of bed in the morning. Mental health is no small matter; depression is excruciatingly painful. For both the sufferer and for those around them. Seeing a loved one, whether it be family member or friend, suffer on such a frequent basis, often daily, is heartbreaking to witness. Facing these battles personally; that too is a punishment in itself. You are taunted by your own thoughts, trapped within your thinking, and weighed down by your existence.
Some turn to planning to track their mood, to document their feelings, journal their thoughts and keep on track of their wellbeing, and medication. Planning can be an outlet whereby you can identify patterns, address behaviours and express your emotions, by putting pen to paper. Or perhaps more specifically, sticker to paper in some circumstances. Some people use their planner for managing their depression, or at least to a degree. It’s not actually something I do directly, but bear with me, I am going somewhere with this.
Depression is actually what helped me to find the planner community. It is hard for me to write this, yet, it’s something that is apparent and affects my everyday life, and at times, every hour. It consumes me, so I have come to allow myself to accept it, rather than denying that there is something wrong. I am still ashamed of who I am, but I am not ashamed of admitting that I have a problem. I was diagnosed with depression at the age of 11 – yes, 11 years old. I had a picture-perfect life, but under the surface, things were not so smooth sailing. I won’t bore you with all the details; I am merely just providing a little bit of history, to help you understand how I got to where I am now. So yes, diagnosed at 11, but the suffering and struggles, of course, came before that. Things I suppose really did hit rock bottom though when I was 11 years old; sorry, I cannot go into any more detail about that right now. Maybe in the future, just not today I’m afraid.
Nearly 20 years on, depression is still very much in full swing and as mentioned previously, it’s part of my daily existence. I often question if I will ever be free of depression, if I will ever find happiness again, if I’ll ever feel normal... I kept a ‘diary’ at one time; I used to write down my deepest and darkest troubles. I never showed it to anyone; I have seen various therapists and psychiatrists over the years but I did not share it with them either. I would tell them how I felt about myself, well, I told them some things at least, but never did I show them my feelings written down on paper. I felt too ashamed...as if it made them all too real. They’d probably laugh at me, they’d probably agree. I’m sure they thought I deserved to feel this worthless too. That’s just the way I see it; always have done, and maybe, always will.
I’ve been prescribed antidepressants, I have had hypnotherapy, counseling, the works! Presently, I do not have a therapist, no do I not take any medication – both are out of choice. I feel unworthy and undeserving, so I ceased both means of help.
A few years ago, I found an account on Instagram, through following a #mentalhealth and #depression hashtag loop. I followed this account for a little while because many of the posts were relatable. I started to notice other similarities; we both enjoyed baking and we both had a fondness for stationery. One day I plucked up the courage to comment on a post, a ‘planner spread’ – a Kikki K planner I think it was, I was in awe of this ladies’ handwriting. As time went on, there were more planner posts and soon, I noticed stickers too. And this is how and where it all begun! This is how I found out about planning! I noticed cute little character stickers, colourful functional boxes, and beautiful hand-lettered script words. Things soon developed and spiraled from there. I still follow this account today; more than three years on.
Planning has changed a lot during this time – as have I. I know what is meant by the terms WO2P and ECLP, I know what washi is and the difference between a pocket planner and a B6. It took me a good while to learn all of the ‘lingo’ – I was always so embarrassed and afraid to ask. Sadly though, I still suffer with depression. Though I do not keep a journal and I do not track my feelings/mood/medications functionally, planning has come to help me in another sense. It brings me joy!! Something I struggled for so long to find.
At times, I think I even struggled to believe it exists, or at least, that I was capable of feeling it. When I moved to America from England a few years ago, I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t go out, so I, therefore, struggled to meet friends. I barely spoke to people, I kept in touch with friends in England, but locally, it was just me and my dog (it still is, in fact...) but thanks to discovering the wonderful world that is the planner community, I have found friends. I have established friendships, and I have discovered happiness again.
Believe me, every day is still a struggle, I have more bad days than good, and I still do not go out often, nor do I have very many friends. But I have ‘met’ some truly amazing and wonderful people online – via Facebook and Instagram and I have discovered the wonderful world of planning and what is meant by a newfound hashtag, #plannerfriendsmakethebestfriends!
Thank you for getting this far; I promise, I will wrap this up soon!
Getting back to depression and planning; planning makes me happy; I strive for my spreads to look perfect, which on bad days, torments me and toys with my feelings and self-worth, but I also get so much pleasure and joy from creating a spread, supporting a shop, discovering a new style, and so on.
I do not have a designated self-care planner, but I do enjoy marking the ‘little things’ in my spreads – a facemask, a happy moment, even the ‘bad days’; they are made better knowing that I have the perfect sticker for that!! Planning helps me to recognise that it’s ‘okay, not to be okay’; and at the same time, it also makes me acknowledge and appreciate moments of happiness, success, and achievements. Again, marking the little things – like happy mail, new releases, baking, even changing my bedsheets, I know I have a cute sticker (or ten!) for that! And well, can I get a high five for that?? I may struggle to get out of bed some days, but darn it, I will get out a bed, and heck, I will change my sheets too – because there’s a sticker, then it’s got to be done. It’s all about #thelittlethings and the #littlewins in life when it comes to me and my planner.
Perhaps I have lost the plot, perhaps I am ‘crazy’ – maybe I need to get back on that medication – but oh well!! If a little bit of sticky paper, pretty washi or a new super soft, yummy smelling leather planner brings me happiness, well, at least it’s cheaper than I therapist (sort of!! Not given my current level of spending, but ah well, you win some, you lose some, you get my gist hopefully!)
My point is, whether you plan functionally or creatively; whether you do it practically or for pleasure, if it makes you happy, if it makes you smile, it is worth every penny, every dollar and dime! We can all struggle; we can continue to lift each other up. We can share our hauls, post our spreads, get stupidly excited for new releases, flex our ninja fingers and drown ourselves in washi tape. Because at the end of the day, we only get one chance. We only have one life, we might as well live it.
Remind yourself of this when you are having a bad day – as hard as it is, remember, the sun always rises again tomorrow. As horrible as today may be, even your worst day only lasts 24 hours, you will never have to revisit it again. Hang in there, and have H.O.P.E - Hold On, Pain Ends
To be continued... check back next month for more about planning and depression and how planning can help you!
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