The Next Right Thing

Living a good life is challenging. A life that’s productive, positive, happy, and isn’t hugely damaging to yourself or those around you… It’s hard. And when you add in depression, anxiety, sickness, and sobriety on top of it all, it sometimes feels a lot harder.

Depression kills my productivity. Sometimes I start thinking about having to make it through the day and the week and the month and the year and the rest of my life while fighting the same battles every day and it just seems far too overwhelming. How can I possibly survive for the rest of my life??

Back in Thailand I started going to therapy and I talked a lot about this cyclical dread. I’d get depressed about being depressed and thinking about being depressed all the rest of the days of my life til I’m dead. What a depressing thought.

My therapist came up with a mantra for me to start taking things one day at a time: Tomorrow might be better. I’m not so optimistic as to say tomorrow will be better, but I can admit at least that it might be. And that was enough. It was hugely helpful in getting me to live day by day and focus on today rather than getting depressed about tomorrow before it even arrives. I’ve been trying to live one day at a time since then.

Moving to San Diego felt like my chance to really get my life together. To work hard on all the negative parts of myself. But the thought of doing that was daunting. I decided to do yoga every day, but quickly found my motivation lacking. I’d have lengthy to-do lists that overwhelmed me and I’d start wasting time and avoiding responsibility instead.

So I came up with another mantra for myself: Do the next right thing.
I ate breakfast. Great! That was productive and positive. Now, I have two options: I can do some yoga, or I can sit on the couch and watch TV until my eyelids melt together. The rest of the day is daunting. I still have to write two articles, run errands, clean my room, do laundry, apply for jobs, and cook food. But that’s too much to think about. So right now, in this moment, I just have to make one choice.
TV or yoga?
And I try to choose the next right thing.

And when that’s done, I can get dressed and ready, or I can lay on the floor and think about all the terrible things I’ve ever done and regretted and once I’ve done that for 20 minutes I might as well just roll on over to the couch and watch TV for seven hours because the day’s already wasted.

So I do the next right thing. I get dressed and ready.

And I take my days one at a time, hour by hour, decision by decision. If I think about having to manage my life for a whole week or month or year, I can’t fathom how to do it. But I can handle the next ten minutes.

There’s a play I really like that was made into a movie that I really don’t like called The Last Five Years, and in it there’s a song called The Next Ten Minutes. Part of it goes like this:

Will you share your life with me
For the next ten minutes?
For the next ten minutes
We can handle that
We could watch the waves
We could watch the sky
Or just sit and wait
As the time ticks by
And if we make it till then
Can I ask you again
For another ten?
And that’s kind of how I’m treating my life these days. Not so much in a romantic way, but in regards to being able to handle life on my own. One decision at a time, ten minutes at a time, one day at a time. Doing the next right thing. And once I’ve done that, I move on to what’s next. I fail as often as I succeed, but I’m trying. And that counts for something.

4 thoughts on “The Next Right Thing

  1. Love your blog. Always read it. Understand about depression. Right there with you although mine may not be as severe as yours sounds. Try out this podcast starting with episode #1. I’ve found it changed my thinking.

    If that link doesn’t work perhaps this one is better.

    Thank you for being vulnerable.

    Oh. Btw, I am Zach’s cousin who lives in Everett wa. And I hired Kate to photograph models in my boutique. Since then I’ve sold my store. Yay!! So I don’t have to do that anymore! Yay!!!

    Wishing you the best, Renee

    Sent from my iPhone



    1. Thanks so much! I remember kate talking about you. I appreciate the feedback. It’s always so encouraging to hear others relating to the same struggles. I’ll check that podcast out soon!


  2. stumbled into your blog, dug the read

    mantras got me through a lot of shit that i never wanted to deal with; i had one that was slightly more pretentious I guess: “I’m invincible” sometimes just “invincible”. things would get wicked bad or i’d be screwing myself with various activities to kill feelings… and when that never worked as it never did, i would have to repeat to myself those words, remind myself this wasn’t the end. feelings weren’t gonna get me.

    shit, i was gonna get me if i wasn’t careful. but yeah, mantras are like little spells that keep you going.

    also, i had to comment because of last five years; i’m always singing “climbing uphill”!


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