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During my depressive episodes, I had advice thrown at me left and right. People were always telling me inspirational quotes, things I should do, prayers to say, books to read, websites to visit – I was so bombarded that I blocked out the majority of it. I was so depressed that I couldn’t concentrate to read the books, handouts, or websites, and I’d heard the advice people told me many times before. I knew what to do; actually doing it was the problem.

I kept on hating myself for not being like my friends who were in school, working, volunteering, socializing, and being in romantic relationships, while I was spending my days lying in bed. One day, something in my brain just switched, and I thought to myself, why don’t I take all those things I hate about myself and turn them into something positive? As a result, I did what I do best – formed a list. I love making lists; it’s a great way to organize all of your thoughts, and can be consulted and crossed off later. I took all the activities that my friends were doing and made a list of things that I wished I was doing. For example, my negative thought of, “I hate that I am not capable of having a job”, became “I want to have a job” and was written on the list.

Of course I didn’t stop there. I felt so inspired by this idea that I wanted it to be more creative. I felt a visual representation would be even more effective, so I could hang it on my wall. I found images on Google representing the things I wanted to be doing, found a picture collage template on the internet of 16 squares to insert images, titled it “My Ideal Self” and voila, it was my new inspiration board. I taped it by the desk I always sit at to give me hope of things that could happen.

At the time I felt like the activities depicted in those 16 images were impossible to achieve. I didn’t even think I was capable of a part-time retail job –  how could I do that and go to school, volunteer, socialize, go to the gym, spend time with family, and be confident?

I made that collage at the beginning of 2013, and at the end of the year reflected on it. I began to cry, because I realized that I had achieved the majority of the items on the list within only a year. It felt so amazing be living the life I always aspired to live.

This was definitely the most effective tool I used that helped my recovery. It’s a great idea for anyone to try, even if you’re not in a deep depressive episode. Lists, collages, and inspiration boards like mine can help anyone to set goals for themselves and visualize them.

About Elena B.

Elena is a 21 year-old college student, sales associate, and volunteer living with depression and generalized & social anxiety. Formally diagnosed with social anxiety in high school, Elena has struggled with it for the majority of her life. During her first year of university she experienced high levels of anxiety and had her first major depressive episode, which was followed by another the following year. Since then she has been recovered and focuses on her recovery daily. She currently runs a tumblr blog, where she shares inspirational quotes, images, and tips to help others with their recovery. Follow Elena’s story on HMC’s Supportive Minds Blog.

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