Day two of the Mental Cleanse Challenge for me! My goal for self-care today is one of my favorite techniques to keep a running reality-check of my current situation. It’s a great way to combat the negative thoughts that can bombard me when I’m depressed. It’s quick and relatively easy, and it’s a wonderful little journaling tool to focus, at least for a few minutes a day, on the positives that are happening. (No, I’m not saying that positive thinking can eradicate depression or anxiety or Bipolar or PTSD or any mental health struggle – we all know that’s a metric shit-ton of bull.) But this self-care tool does help you counteract negative self talk and distortions. Depression tells us we’re failures and we’re not accomplishing anything with our lives. Anxiety tells us everything is wrong and we can’t possibly function as normal humans. In my struggles with Bipolar Affective Disorder, the swings can make it hard to keep track of what’s what. Sometimes, I’m untouchable and everything is “great” (though, objectively, everything is not great and I’m in for a manic episode if I’m not diligent with my treatment); sometimes, I feel so depressed I’m not even sad, I’m just numb, and I know that nothing will ever get better and I’m doomed to live life disconnected and emotionless (ahhh, the lies of depression). With PTSD, I can get so stuck in my past or so anxious about the future that it’s tricky to stay in, or even really see, the present.
This technique has helped immensely, in all of those areas. I learned it while in the Partial Hospitalization Program, in a DBT group. I look forward to doing it each day. I wanted to share it with you as a part of this challenge, as it is one of my go-to, ongoing self-care tools and I thought it may be helpful to some of you out there in Internet world, too!
So, what is this G.L.A.D./ What’s Not Wrong trick I use? G.L.A.D. is adapted from the book The Mindfulness Toolbox by Donald Altman. (Gotta cite the source.)
This is my journal. I like laying it out with “What’s Not Wrong?” on one page and G.L.A.D on the other, but you could just as easily put them on the same page, reverse positioning- whatever you like – you do you!
It’s really simple. Take a minute or two out of your day, every day, to write down one Gratitude, one thing you Learned, one small Accomplishment, and one Delight you experienced. (See what they did with the acronym there? Clever, right?) As for the “What’s Not Wrong?” portion, challenge yourself to think of at least one thing that is not wrong in your life right now. If you’re really struggling, it could be something as basic as “I’m breathing” or “There are shoes on my feet” or “At this exact moment, I’m warm.” If you’re not struggling as much, feel free to broaden the scope: “I have a good job.” “I have a home.” etc. Usually, I’m somewhere in the middle of those two. But, again, it’s about being in the absolute present moment if you’re really having a difficult time.
My entry for today is as follows:
What’s Not Wrong?
I got Katie to school on time today; I’m starting to figure out solutions to the “no income” issue; I’ve been writing every single day for over a week.
Gratitude: I’m grateful for the community of advocates I’ve connected with on WordPress & Twitter – they uplift and encourage me and let me know I’m not alone.
Learned: I learned that I can push back my phone bill for a few weeks! This is also another thing I’m grateful for!
Accomplishment: I made some phone calls, which made me anxious, but I did them anyway.
Delight: My coffee was on point this morning! Perfect ratio of coffee:milk:sugar.
There you have it! My self-care tool of the day. Do you think that using the GLAD/What’s Not Wrong journal might be helpful to you? DO you have a different journaling technique to reflect on the positives and small victories of living with mental health diagnoses? Do you think this is a load of hippie-dippie new age crap? Whatever your thoughts, I’d love to hear them! Tweet, Facebook, or Comment below!