To say that I led an unhealthy lifestyle would be an understatement. Sleeping in during the afternoons, never stepping out of the house, and neglecting personal hygiene — are only a few examples of how I had come to start living. I would cry a lot, unreasonably and irrationally, and fall into low moods on a daily basis. Sure, I was struggling with clinical depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder all at once, but at that point in my life, everything about my routine and lifestyle was in shambles and seemed hopelessly beyond repair.
On top of all of this, I had completely stopped eating and had lost 7 kilograms within the span of two months. With both my physical and mental health deteriorating at an alarmingly high rate, I was sucked into a spiral of confusion and despair; I was having all my medicines and attending all my therapy sessions, but there was a crucial thing lacking in my journey to betterment: my own personal efforts.
For so long I hadn't even realised that to keep my brain emotionally sound, I had to dutch in with my efforts as well. Depression is a mental illness that cannot be treated without the help of medicines, but even after the medicines have settled in and started to work, you can’t expect miracles to happen overnight. Without personal effort, I would be stuck where I was, in the never-ending cycle of self-pity and self-loathing while everything around me went into utter chaos.
As anyone with knowledge about mental illnesses would know, putting in a conscious effort comes even harder to an individual battling any of these sicknesses. I wasn't in the best condition and was already at a disadvantage at giving my life a much-needed makeover, but at the same time, whiling away my days with zero energy or inclination to perform any task was taking a toll on my self-esteem and confidence.
During this period, I turned to my bullet journal. Bullet journaling is something I had been doing for two years already, but the tasks I would write in it would always be limited to assignments or important dates. This time, however, I let myself design a system that would work in my current scenario. I got off of Pinterest and #bujoinspiration tags on Instagram and Tumblr and told myself that I would need to write down all the ugly sides of my life if I wanted to manage them.
I began by setting daily tasks like “Take a bath,” “Wash your face,” “Brush your teeth.” There was an initial embarrassment at having to pen down such mundane things but what I needed to realise was that I shouldn't have to feel embarrassed about something I haven't been capable of doing. If taking a bath and brushing my teeth was a task for me and required effort, I needed to give myself a little appreciation at having performed them the days that I did.
The first few weeks didn't show a lot of results but I soon started jotting down every little thing that seemed like work to me, regardless of whether it should qualify as a real task for others or not. I wrote things like, “Take morning medicines” so I wouldn't forget and felt a sense of satisfaction each time I checked off these little tasks.
Within a month or so, I had accomplished doing these things that I had found so hard to do for such a long time. I tracked my sleep, even if it meant writing “Didn’t get out of bed the whole day” and this made me get up every morning with a new sense of purpose. If nothing else, I at least had to complete the tasks for the day: taking a bath, eating at least one meal, changing the sheets.
It soon became an obsession that helped me track my activities and made me feel responsible and accountable for them. For the first time in months, I felt in control of my life and I loved every second of it. From there, I have now succeeded in keeping my Depression in check by doing a number of other things. The tasks that seemed gigantic slowly fell into my everyday routine and I found myself being able to perform them with ease. I gained back all my weight and started eating healthy regularly. My daily tasks now include “real work”: meditating, exercising, replying to emails. I still make sure to write about simple, small tasks that cause me distress.
Bullet journaling is an activity you do for yourself. It is a part of personal maintenance and should remain just that, without any judgements coming into it. You know what you need, and you know how to achieve it. Don't be ashamed of penning it down and working towards it – No matter how tiny it may seem to others.