My Three Circles

jny published on
3 min, 483 words

The final project during treatment was called the Three Circles project. Because the treatment ranged from addiction to mental health to trauma, it obviously seems to be suited more toward the addiction angle. Nevertheless, I wrote my own with depression in mind: what is Essential to being healthy? What warning signs show that I might be headed down a dark path? And what are signs of "relapsing" into depression?


  • Meditation
  • DBT
  • Sensual Grounding (soft scarves, music, candy, essential oils, Imgur)
  • Pets
  • IOP
  • Therapist
  • Depression Support Group
  • Somatics
  • Dad & Step-mom
  • Close Friends
  • Game Night group
  • Facebook & Social Networking
  • Gym
  • Yoga
  • Journaling/Blogging


  • Feeling Ill/Poor
  • Drifting/Isolation
  • Lack of interest in hobbies
  • Inattention to personal hygiene (showering, shaving, combing hair)
  • Poor posture/not smiling/cold chest feeling (vagus nerve)
  • Oversleeping
  • Staying up late
  • Excessive video games


  • Giving up/"diving in" to my depression
  • Dissociation
  • Hard Alcohol
  • 4chan
  • Suicidal planning
  • Cutting
  • Eating poorly (lukewarm soup out of the can)
  • Dr Pepper or energy drinks

When I first got out, I sent this exact list to those closest to me. It's a very concrete way of being able to determine how I'm doing and how those close to me can visibly see them and intervene. The idea is: I keep up the Essentials, I watch for the warnings (and tell someone I trust of their existence) and in the case of relapse, I pre-identify behaviours that make it worse.

The best example I have now is "no hard alcohol". I drink alone more than anything else and having alcohol that would get me wasted is definitely not healthy and will definitely feed the depression.

The lists have probably changed and need some updating, but at the same time they're still very useful. Especially for when other people ask "What's wrong?" and I respond "I don't know" because, in my depressed state, I'm not able to identify list items.

I wish I was better at keeping this up. Of continuing all the Essentials when sometimes I've forgotten the value in one. I wish I had people around me that understand the ramifications of Warnings and Relapses. And I wish most of all that I could just hold this plan in my head and be stubbornly determined to refer to it when times are bad as well as when they are good. So often, I sink to Warnings without really caring. It's hard to care when I'm at that state. Most of all, I wish that I didn't have to even make these lists. I wish I could live life without feeling as though something horrendous will jump out at any moment.

But such is life. And doing things like the Three Circles provides introspection and awareness; while I wish I didn't need either of those, I can certainly say that they are absolutely necessary to a mentally healthy life for me.