How did I pick the name for this blog? Bryce gets sad, anxious, depressed – especially at night which causes him to not want to go to sleep. I too had a lot of trouble sleeping when I was younger. (see, Bryce does take after me!). I remember that my mom used to tell me to “think of happy things” to help me fall asleep. I used to think, “right, like that is going to work.” Even though we all think we aren’t going to grow up and be just like our parents, I guess we do because that is the same thing I say to Bryce. When he is anxious, or scared, or sad, I hear it come out of my mouth, “Bryce, think of happy things.” That will relax you and help you fall asleep. Of course, he might tell me that nothing makes him happy, but of course there are lots of things that we can think of together. It might be hard at times to think of those things, especially for a kid or anyone who is dealing with severe depression, bipolar disorder or anxiety, but it can be done.
Everyone’s happy things are different, but being able to think of them is important and a great coping skill to teach children (and adults for that matter). Bryce’s happy things will change over time, as do all of ours. Right now Bryce thinks of the beach, our golden retriever Griffin, his favorite stuffed animals, his video games, jumping on the trampoline, and how much his family loves him. I hope these things always make him happy.
I do realize that when you or someone you love are truly depressed or anxious – it is hard to just think of happy things, and get happy. That telling someone to just be happy is not helpful. Sometimes, you just need to listen, be there, give someone a hug and tell them you understand. There are plenty of nights that I have done just that for Bryce. Those nights the most important thing to remember is to try not to cry, at least not in front of Bryce, but to just be strong for him. I can cry when he can’t see me. That is when I have to remember to think of my happy things.
Having a sad kid is hard. Probably one of the hardest things in the world. Hearing your child say that he wants to kill himself, that he doesn’t deserve to live – no one should ever have to deal with that. Luckily, thanks to great doctors, a great therapeutic day school, The Frost School (part of the Sheppard Pratt Health System), and Bryce learning these coping skills (He has come downstairs and said – I am thinking of my happy things, but I still can’t sleep), those truly sad days are less frequent for us now. I know there will be bumps in the road, but I can honestly tell others that there is hope out there. That things do get better.
How do you help your child or loved one think of their happy things more often? Here are some suggestions:
- Make happy things flash cards. Take pictures of their happy things. Print them out and attach them together with a key ring. Make a little flip chart of them for easy reference.
- Make a Happy Things box. Same idea, but put the pictures in a box. If you need to pick one Happy Thing, close your eyes and reach into the box.
- Make a Happy Things Bulletin Board
- Create a Photo Album or Scrapbook showing your child doing all his Happy Things
What other ideas do you have to help someone remember their Happy Things? Leave a comment and let me know.
What are your Happy Things?
Thanks for reading.
It makes me happy that your dog’s first name is the same as my last name. 😉
Holding my face up to the sunshine when its been dark and cold makes me happy. Recognizing that my support system is there for me even on the really difficult days makes me happy.
I love your comment. Thank you so much for reading and responding. It makes me HAPPY that friends from near and far can read and be touched by this. Please share! Hope all is well. xoxoxoxo
My happy things is watching how much Bryce has changed and how much more he is smiling now. And watching how you and terry have stepped up to make a difference in the lives of others and for your blog. Loved your ideas
My happy thing is your sister( most of the time ).
Very nice!! Thanks for the comments.
I actually do better thinking of nothing….I try to force myself to focus solely on my breathing. Happy thoughts send me down the bunny trail and it’s hard to get my brain to shut up! 🙂
Breathing is always a great idea! Thanks for sharing!
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I love these “Happy Things” suggestions!
Thank you! I truly appreciate it.
Thanks for writing. I especially appreciate the line, “telling someone to just be happy is not helpful.” So many people don’t understand depression, and when you say things like, “I didn’t know you were depressed! Why didn’t you call me?” Or “but WHY are you depressed,” makes it evident that many don’t quite understand the difference between depression and my-cat-just-died-so-I’m-sad. But–discussion of depression might be for another day.
My happy things are thinking about things I have to look forward to. If I have a vacation booked for 10 months from today, or a friend is coming to visit soon, it not only helps me feel good, but it also reminds me to be grateful and not take things for granted!
Yes, it is hard to understand depression when you have never experienced it or seen someone truly experience it. There is a great illustration that i will share that helps