Most of my life I have fought occasional battles with depression. My message to others with the problem is that you do not have to live in a black hole for the rest of your life. Most insurance plans including Medicare will pay for counseling. If you do not have insurance which will cover it, Prairie View has a sliding fee scale according to your income.
My first therapist, Sandy Berg, started me on the habit which has proved the most helpful in conquering depression, which I now pass along to you free of charge. I keep a journal with absolutely no negative entries. Each evening I write about the best thing that happened that day. When I get depressed, I can look back over my journals and see that my life is actually pretty good. I admit that sometimes I have fallen out of the journaling habit for months at a time, but I always feel better when I take it up again.
Your happiness journal entry does not have to be a big, dramatic event of great excitement. It can be something as simple as completing a chore or receiving a hug from a friend or a smile from a stranger.
To give you an idea of the process I will share some of the entries in my journals from 2005 to the present along with parenthetical bits of explanation where necessary.
“I went to Tabor’s Christmas concert this evening, It was beautiful, especially the numbers from the Messiah. Glenn Litke sang ‘The Trumpet Shall Sound’ with Steve Hanneman on the trumpet. Truly awesome!”
(This one was while I was visiting a friend in Arizona.) “Madeline and I went swimming in an outdoor pool. In February!”
“This evening I attended Prairie View’s Food for Thought. Patty Wootin presented a workshop on humor, which was delightful. I wore my leprechaun outfit, so I fit right in.”
“I gave the children’s sermon this morning and read Chesterton’s poem, ‘The Donkey.’”
“I got about two-thirds of the yard mowed today. Hurray!”
“I went to Burdick this evening for the coach pitch game. Cole Srajer hit two home runs. Kyle Riffel is also a powerful hitter for his size.”
“There were three yellow blooms on my day lilies today.”
“I spent some time at the library today — always a treat.”
“Tabor beat Sterling by six points in two overtimes. Steven Chrisholm made some baskets and got some rebounds. They all played well, but Tyler Weinbrenner was awesome.”
“I picked up a couple of bargain books in the thrift shop today — a James Herriott and a Robert Fulgham.”
“They did it! The Hillsboro girls are the state champs. I went to the game with Pastor and Connie Wiens.”
“As I drove by the reservoir today, a bald eagle flew across in front of me. It was probably the closest view of one I’ve ever had.”
“I visited Georgia Spohn and her animals. As soon as I opened the car door, Smoky tried to crawl in my lap.” (Incidentally, Smoky is a very large dog.)
“Brad Penn preached this morning. I thought it was a very inspiring sermon, stressing that if we truly belong to Christ, we should be becoming more and more like him.”
“We had a good group at senior citizens today. We all had a good laugh at my expense when I asked if anyone had a birthday, and Adeline said, ‘Yes, you do.’”
“I finished reading ‘Mr. Monk Goes to Germany.’ Hilarious!”
“We had the first snow today. It fell in huge, feathery flakes. Beautiful!”
“I went to the Marion book group and supper with Rowena Olsen and Janet Branson. As we were leaving, Todd Maddox and his parents held the door for us. It was delightful to see him again.”
“Kim Frantz and I got a score of 2,310 in Scrabble Blast, one of our best.”
“I’m drunk on spring! Lilac bushes are blooming, and there seem to be flowering trees everywhere. When I went to Bible study tonight, I noticed a particularly awesome tree with pink flowers in front of the church. I think it may be a crabapple. The delicate green leaves on non-blooming trees are also lovely. The maple in front of Tim and Monica Svoboda’s house is nearly as beautiful as it is in autumn.”
“We had hammer dulcimer music at Learning in Retirement today. I like the sound.”
“One of the nicest of life’s small pleasures is clean sheets.”
“Several of my neighbors have beautiful trees in their yards I’ve been drinking in the beauty of the season.”
As you can see, my life is good. If you look for the positive, I’ll bet yours is too.