I’m too much of a pessimistic realist to believe affirmations like “I am happy.” OK. I can tell myself that all day long, but it’s not going to change the fact I’m really effin’ depressed.
My affirmations are less about the end goal and more about the process. They are somewhat of a fancy way of identifying where I need to incorporate coping skills and better emotion regulation.
These are “baby” affirmations. Right now, they’re what I’m working on, but down the road, they’ll likely change.
When I mentioned this one in therapy, it was “I’d like to learn how to be happy.” My therapist helped me change it to “content.” Happy is an emotion, and emotions are not forever. I may experience more depression than others, but no one can hold on to happiness. If you spend your time striving for “happy,” you’ll be let down.
Contentment is much more attainable. One of the things I’m learning to do is not judge or overthink my emotions. It’s more “neutral” than happy, though it’s in the same wheelhouse as happiness. I don’t feel the need to hold onto or worry about losing contentment as much as happiness.
Of course, life happens, and we can’t always feel content. But, by using coping skills and self-care, I’m able to learn how to feel more content when stressors come up.
My therapist called it “finding contentment in the face of resentment.”There are things I’d like to change in my life, but those changes are not possible at the moment. The trick is to find ways to feel content in the present despite the factors in life you’d like to change.
I used to write as a full-time job. I loved it, but depression likes to take away the things I love the most. This affirmation is quite vague. That’s on purpose. I didn’t set a specific goal of how much I need to write in a given week. My only goal is to “write more.” I’m not looking for my affirmations to add extra pressure to my life.
What this affirmation does, however, is remind me of what I want and know I can do. I’d like to write more again, and I am doing that. It’s not as much as I’d like, but I’m getting there.
This affirmation also fights self-deprecating thoughts that tell me I’m no good. I’m trying to find confidence in writing again, and this one helps with that.
This one is a bit cliche. Who doesn’t have parts of their past they’d rather forget?
Mental illness itself can be traumatic. My experience with undertreated bipolar disorder wrecked many aspects of my life. Whenever I feel down, I spiral into believing I’ll be back where I started three years ago. That severe depression and mixed state terrify me.
When I experience a depressive episode now, it’s easy to think I haven’t grown or become more resilient. But I have. My past is not who I am now.
I can learn to process my past and identify how I’ve grown without feeling sucked into it.
Depression makes me a pessimist. My entire thought process and state of mind changes. I believe that nothing will ever get better. I believe nothing (meds, therapy, other skills) is helping. It’s like I become engulfed in bipolar disorder and forget I can do things to gain back control. All coping goes out of the window, and I shut out all means of help. I become hopeless.
This affirmation helps cancel out some of my pessimism. I can learn how to manage my symptoms to minimize the risk of a severe episode. I can’t control everything that happens with my mood, but I can arm myself with tools to help. Learning how to manage my symptoms is best done when I’m feeling “stable.”
This one goes with writing more again. I am definitely passionate about writing but also learning and helping others. This is why I fell in love with journalism. It allows you to learn something new through every story, interview, and research article. I’ve always been a curious and determined person.
A part of depression is a loss of interest. When my mental illness became severe, I was stripped of the very characteristics and passions I prided myself on.
I remember what it felt like to be passionate and excited about life and my work. I haven’t been able to get back there in a while. With this affirmation, I’m not focusing on feeling passionate, but rather doing things I know I (used to) enjoy.
I’m still that person who wanted to double major in journalism and psychology— which I did—and minor in history and economics—which I thankfully didn’t do.
My plan is to print these affirmations off on Cardstock. On the back, I’ll write ways I’m implementing that affirmation in my life. For instance, I’d write that I’ve started attending a support group on the back of my “managing symptoms” better affirmation.