Posted by: Jack Hope | Tuesday June 26, 2012

Fighting Back Against A Bad Day

After this recent little spat with my parents, I have been feeling quite a bit down from where I was before. I hate days like these, the days where I feel myself slipping backwards. Every day spent like this feels like a lost day and I’m tired of losing days.  So I’m fighting back against my bad day.

My friend Andrew is a big believer in the power of positive thinking and has consumed massive amounts of reading material on the subject and using positive thinking to improve your life.  He’s often shared some of his findings on this subject with me, in the hopes that I can find it useful in my life.

This is not positive thinking, because my thoughts are anywhere but on positive thoughts right now.  I don’t expect that this will magically turn this into a good day. It’s almost certainly going to be a lousy day, no matter what I can do.

No, this is about making sure that the darkness inside doesn’t overwhelm me, so I can get back to the point where I can have a positive thought.

Even if that means forcing myself to go through my day.

My first step is to keep my morning routine the same.  I try to make sure that I get up at the same time that I always do and stick to the routine that I’ve built and managed to hold on since I came out my last major episode last year, when I began taking anti-depressant medication. I always make sure to have a good breakfast and then to shower and get dressed.

I always make sure to make myself presentable to go out, even if I’m not going out that day. It’s hard, some days all I want to do is lay around in my pajamas but by ritualizing and habituating this routine while I’m not working I hope that I’m setting myself to make that future transition a little easier for myself.

It also makes it a lot easier to keep myself productive in any way, regardless of how I’m feeling. It frames the day for me by making sure I start it off right and on a day like today, I need every advantage, however small, that I can get.

My next step is to make a list for myself of the things that I would like to do.  I actually use lists quite a bit to help me try to organize myself and I’ve found that they’re a very useful tool for me.  There is a nice little psychological buzz when I cross off something on my list and when I complete an entire list.

As a general rule, I try to make sure that I have at least three things on a list and on bad days  I try to shrink the items on my lists down into very small and manageable chunks.  Even on my good days, a list item would rarely be: clean house.  Rather, I would break it down into its constituent parts, clean the bathroom, vacuum, etc…  I find this also helps with the time management aspect too.

Today’s List is:

  1. clean the bed sheets
  2. tidy my bedroom
  3. dust my bedroom
  4. empty the waste baskets
  5. sort recycling
  6. pack two boxes
  7. take a long walk

The last one may seem to be a bit of stretch for a list of things to do, but then again this isn’t really about making sure I have a day of heady accomplishment and maximize my working hours. I’m not a productivity guru and I’m not trying to get the most done that I can in a day. I’m trying to make sure I actually do something today, even if it’s a few small things.

Also, as you may noticed these are pretty much all household chores rather than say, sorting my tax returns or working on my blog or other projects. I’m aiming for simple tasks that don’t require too much mental effort but that offer improvements to my surrounding environment. I’m trying to use the time doing routine and boring tasks, in order to have myself more prepared for when I return to mental tasks.

Although, I’m sure it can be argued that this posting and any follow ups that I make today are mental work, I’m trying to treat them as therapy rather than work.  That may be a difference without distinction though.

Before I start out on my task list though today, I am going to treat myself to a vice of mine, and get myself a bottle of coca cola.  I am well aware that caffeine and soda are very bad things for a person’s physical health and I have cut back a lot over the years, especially over this last year, however, every once in a while I do let myself indulge.  And today will be one of those days.

Which brings me to my next point: today I am going to try to be kind to myself. I’m not going to be critical of every little decision that I make and I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t finish everything on this list.  Just writing this already counts as a victory right now and I can at least say that I didn’t spend the entire day treading the waters of Depression.



  1. Kudos Jack. You are doing what feels good to you and that’s inspiring. I’m sending love your way.


  2. Hey, Jack, I’d say you you can definitely count today as a victory! As far as beating oneself up, I’ve found it helpful to consider if I would say to someone I care about the things I say to myself; I find that gives me some perspective. Actually, I used to find that I’d say things to myself that I wouldn’t even say to someone I didn’t particularly care about.

  3. your progress is so refreshing and makes my heart sing! It is so awesome to see you sharing what works for you. In my humble opinion, by doing that you may be helping to save someone else’s life, even for just today 🙂

    • Thanks very much. Some days it doesn’t feel like much progress but every little bit helps. While I am definitely writing this blog very much for myself, to help myself and to get it out of me and put it somewhere out there, I do hope that it can also be helpful to anyone else stuck in a battle for their mental health.

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