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How Focusing on Small Victories Helped With My Depression

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After three missed appointments in a row, I was finally able to bring myself to visit my doctor. “My secretary and I had a pool going on whether or not you were going to show up,” he joked. It hurt a little, but I knew he meant well.

School wasn’t going so well for me. Nothing was, actually. After dropping nearly all my classes, I was still failing one and behind in the other. I missed my test the week before — I couldn’t even think, let alone write a test that day. I was still feeling the same today. My finances were terrible, I hadn’t seen my friends or done anything other than sleep and Netflix in God knows how long, and I kept forgetting when my shifts were at my part-time job. The event I was supposed to plan for my club fell through, and there were major consequences. I was failing in nearly every aspect of my life.

My doctor was busy, and it seemed like he wanted our meeting over as soon as possible. Maybe that’s just how I interpreted it. He knew I was back to get another prescription, and luckily he knew I needed a doctor’s note as well. The last two years have been really rough for my academics —many failed or withdrawn classes accumulated on my transcript.

He asked me some questions about my life and how it’s going, and for the first time in the past two years, there’s not a lot going on anymore. I don’t have any reason to be depressed anymore, yet here I am. It became clear to my doctor that I needed to take my life down a notch. “It would be best for you to focus on your health. Try just taking it one course at a time — you need some small victories.”

I couldn’t stop thinking about that. Small victories. He was right, and I knew it. I embraced what he said and tried to make some changes.

Each day I vowed to get at least one thing done, no matter how small it was.

Send my professor an email. Done. Do the dishes. Check.

Completing one small thing each day turned into three things each day, which turned into six. Slowly, I was working my way to a small victory. Finishing a course without dropping it. Getting an 80 in my one summer course. Completing a personal project.

Small victories give me the confidence my depression strips away from me, and I’ll never forget that.

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Thinkstock photo via Kritchanut

Originally published: June 5, 2017
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