The Sober Pagan

Fighting Depression with Affirmations, Gratitude, and the Happiness List

When you first get sober, if you attend AA meetings, you are sure to encounter the Twelve Steps. They can be powerful tools in helping you to acquiring and maintaining your sobriety but they are not the only tools in your toolbox.

Many of us suffer from various mental illnesses. Most people have some form of anxiety or depression at any given time – life is stressful, and that’s just it is. One thing I have learned is that repeating affirmations really help in combating depression. They can be a most effective tool in your fight for happiness.

But – “I’m too depressed to create an affirmation!” Or – “These affirmations are stupid! They have nothing to do with my real life! I’m depressed!” Yes, I have been in that place, too. What I have learned to do is that whatever negative thought I have and turn it inside out or upside down or backwards or however you want to look at it, but turn it – even if feels stupid, sounds stupid and you are convinced within a shadow of a doubt that it’s totally stupid and it won’t work. Do it anyway. It will work. Repeat that affirmation as part of your morning and evening meditation for twenty-eight days and I guarantee you, you are going to feel better. That positive statement will have become a part of your thinking and it will have changed you.

And keep doing it. Like a diet, when you have been reducing calories and eating healthier foods and exercising on a regular basis, when you reach your goal weight and you feel like a new person, you know that if you go back to eating the junk you were eating before you started, you’re going to regain all that weight and probably a few extra pounds, too. That’s the same with saying affirmations and all positive practices. If you stop – if you get lazy with your practice – your feeling of blah is going to return and the next thing you know, you’re going to be in a depressed state again. And maybe on the road to relapse.

(Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash)

Some people in AA say that when you’re depressed, you should make a “gratitude list”. I don’t like gratitude lists because then I have to think to whom I am grateful? Of course, most people in AA are Christian, so their answer is “God” and the next statement is to pray and give thanks to God for all these things for which you am grateful. But as a Pagan/Wiccan/Witch, I don’t really look at things in this way. Not that I’m not grateful – if I have a reason to be – like I was grateful that my friend gave me a ride to the store and I didn’t have to take the bus in the bad weather the other day – but I don’t get being grateful for sunsets.

What I do is make “Happiness Lists”. When I am depressed, I ask myself, “What makes you happy?” Of course, when you are depressed, this can be as hard as coming up with affirmations! But even when I am wicked depressed, my kitties make me happy. (Even when they are pissing me off, they make me happy!). And sunsets make me happy. Sunrises make me happy too! Seeing flowers make me happy. Smelling good food makes me happy. Books make me happy.

Even if you can’t come up with more than one or two things on your “Happiness List”, that’s OK. Hang on to that! It’ll grow as your mental health well-being grows. Add to it as you think of things that make you happy. Soon, you’ll see that you have lots of things in this world and in your life that create moments of happiness for you. This realization is one of the most powerful tools you will ever have. Put it in your toolbox and use it!

Until next month, Brightest Blessings.


About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.