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The Joy List


I have a list on my phone, so that it is with me nearly all the time. It’s called “Joy List”, and it is exactly that, a list of joys.

I have a depressive personality and have to put in a heck of a lot of legwork into keeping myself ok, or at least as close to ok as my head chemistry allows at any given time. There are a number of strands to this. This blog originated from one, namely the need to focus on, and be grateful for, the everyday. The Joy List is another.

This is what it says at the moment:

  • John Hegley’s poems
  • A really good play
  • A really good opera *
  • Massage
  • Noel Coward’s Bad times are just around the corner
  • Gardening
  • Cleaning out the poultry
  • Yoga
  • Riding **
  • Meditation
  • Running!
  • Writing
  • Philosophy***

(*But not Madam Butterfly or I really will be in trouble)

(** Only been 14 times, and I’ve had concussion twice, but somehow that works for me.)

(*** I am attempting to understand what this means for me on an ongoing basis, I explore this elsewhere, click here to see my mullings)

Looking at it here, some of the things seem a little strange, but they stay, because they work, at the moment. And there is an exclamation mark next to the word “running” in the list itself, because I can’t quite believe it’s there. I mean me? Running? And liking it?

Most are free, some are treats. Some are linked to controlling my chronic back-pain – an inevitable trigger for depression when it gets too high for too long.

The most important thing is that they are all immediate. This is a sort of “in case of emergency, break glass” list. There is another list (I love a good list, me) for more ongoing things that help, but that’s different, that’s management. When the clouds are gathering and I can feel the thoughts in my head looping down and down and down, when it’s all going a bit mayday-mayday, the things on the Joy List will help me right now.


Another essential characteristic of the list is that it has nothing in it that requires me to be immediately judged. All of those things can simply be done, and judgement suspended, for now at least. I’m lousy at yoga. However all that matters in that moment is that it eases the pain in my body, and that in turn helps ease the pain in my head. This is why being with my children is not on the list.

They are the most important thing in my life, they make my heart soar. I love being with them, and when there is nothing left but dark they are the two shining suns that keep me in this world. However when I am really back to the wall in trouble with my head, stuffing up with them so that I shout or snarl or criticise will trigger paroxysms of guilt and misery through my whole being, almost unbearable in that moment. So perverse as it may seem, and despite them being the greatest gifts the universe has ever given me, my beautiful shining sons cannot be on my Joy List.

Categories: Playing Around

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