Making an Impact – Depression vs. Determination

Inspiration Jar

In the Making an Impact series, clients and services are featured to expand awareness of the wide array of help available at JFS and to ensure donors understand the lives they touch and the difference they make throughout the community. Client names have been changed to protect their confidentiality.

Gina was desperate to put an end to the pain and suffering she felt from lifelong depression, exacerbated by the recent death of her beloved dog Honey. She hadn’t experienced true happiness in years and Honey’s death left life feeling empty. She admitted that she sometimes felt like ending her life in hopes she would be reunited with Honey. JFS PEARLS (Program to Encourage Active Rewarding Lives for Seniors) counselor Tara Burns reassured Gina that PEARLS may be able to help. She could go at her own pace, there was no pressure to complete the program, and Tara would be alongside her every step of her journey.

Gina didn’t have the energy to get out of bed most days, which made her feel guilty and wasn’t the way she wanted to start her day. She decided her goal for the next two weeks was to rise at 6:30AM and eat breakfast with her husband three days of the week. Gina and Tara talked about the action steps to accomplish that goal and the encouragement she would give herself. They also talked about three activities Gina could do to boost her mood. She decided to check in on an elderly neighbor, which would make them both feel good, take a walk to the park being mindful of the beauty of nature and write in a journal three things she’s grateful for every day.

With fierce determination, Gina continued to accomplish the goals she set for herself session after session. She jogged on a trampoline every day, made healthier food choices, smiled at people at the store and would think of a positive thought before falling asleep every night. Gina made an “inspiration jar” she filled with enjoyable ideas written on slips of paper including sit in the garden, take a bath or paint her nails. She added activities like organize a drawer or wash the kitchen floor, because when she completed one of those tasks, she felt accomplished and energized to do more. She made a deal with the jar to complete just one task on days when she felt blue or unmotivated.

When Tara asked Gina how she had come so far in just a few months, she said something just clicked. “I think I was focusing too much on the negative. You helped me focus more on the positive.” PEARLS helped Gina take action to find joy and pleasure again.