Monday, January 28, 2013

Kindness is the Cure for Depression

Post by Gennifer Carragher for the Kind Kindred series.

Kindness is the Cure for Depression

Last year was a tough one for me. Depression is something I've struggled with off and on for years, and last year it was more on than off. I knew I had to do something drastic when it got to the point that I began spending days at a time in bed, rarely leaving the house or talking to friends or family.

I knew that performing random acts of kindness had made me feel good in the past, so I decided to try doing that again in the hopes that it would lift my spirits.

Money was tight, with every penny I made getting re-invested in my business. I knew that I couldn't afford to pay for the person behind me at the drive-thru or hand out $5 gift cards to strangers on the street. I had to find a cheap (or even free) way to perform my random acts of kindness.

So this is what I did: I walked to a creek near my house and gathered a few dozen stones that had been washed smooth by the water. I took them home, painted them pretty colors and wrote inspirational words and messages on them. Then I left them in various spots around town, hoping that someone who needed to hear a few words of encouragement would find each one.

Even though I never actually saw anyone find the stones, I began to feel better. Instead of constantly thinking about all the things I was unhappy with, I found myself daydreaming about people smiling as they noticed my little stones. I was excited about the idea that I could spread a little happiness throughout the universe and hopefully make someone's day a little brighter.

A few months after I started my little adventures in kindness, I found out that one of my friends had been doing something similar with clothespins. (Great minds think alike!) So I began painting inspirational messages on clothespins as well as stones. Then I added feathers. Then salt dough. Then pinecones, twigs, and whatever else I could find! I loved the act of creating each object, thinking of just the right word or phrase to write on each one, then finding the perfect spot to leave it, giggling as I quickly dashed away.

I got so excited about what I was doing that on Christmas Eve I covered 99 varying objects with paint, glitter and ink. On Christmas Day I left each one in a different spot all over town.

By the end of the day, I realized that I had found the cure for depression! Or at least something I could do to make it easier to bear.

Performing random acts of kindness has now become my Zoloft, making my bouts of depression much more manageable. And the thought that people might be paying it forward makes me absolutely giddy! Imagine a wave of kindness spreading like wildfire, all because of a “selfish” desire to improve my own mood.

Gennifer Carragher is a blogger, adventurous photographer and barefoot wanderer on a mission to help people rediscover the incredible beauty and magic in this world. She creates programs and books that teach people how to become fantabulous photographers, enlightened observers and blissful spirits. She shares her adventures on her blog, The Red Road.
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Amanda Fall said...

Gennifer, what an encouraging post. I love how you didn't let your circumstances keep you from expressing kindness. For me, it's easy to shut down when my first option isn't available. But in your case, your personalized creations likely became even more meaningful (to you, and possibly the recipient) than the more expected random acts. I can just imagine coming across one of those brightly colored gifts . . . and imagine the joy tickling at your spirit. Thank you for this.

D High said...

I too struggle with depression so I read your article with great interest. I found it inspiring and encouraging. The idea of doing for others -vs- prescription medication is wonderful. I'm already thinking of things I can do. That might mean stealing some of your ideas. I hope you don't mind! Good stuff. Thanks.

Jaci said...

Wonderful post. Made me smile deep inside. Let's see... where are my paints and that package of clothespins? Maybe a few brightly colored acorns would be fun, too.

mrshungria said...

I'm so happy for you! I went looking for this pin about the toy society. It's a blog from Australia, and their mission is to leave toys in random spots. This sounds totally for you! I may have even originally read it here from

Naomi Wittlin said...

Gennifer, this is beautiful. I love how it started as a thought and gradually helped you come out of yourself (and your house).

Maria said...

Random acts of kindness are wonderful. I'm currently making a big batch of valentines to leave around my town. I liked most of your article. However major depression is a serious disorder. Art and random kindness are not a cure for an imbalance in my brain. I love doing them and they make me more grateful, but I still need to take my meds and exercise. Even with these supports in place I will still struggle through depressive episodes for the rest of my life. It seems like you're saying that depression is a lack of kindness, a character flaw. I guess I was annoyed by the sweeping, quick fix tone of this piece. Art and acts of kindness are infinitely worth doing, but they aren't a magic wand to fix mental illness.

Samantha Durrie said...

It is!!!! Something had bloomed in me recently & I am the happiest I've been in a long time. What have I been doing? Giving kindness in simple small ways & that makes me feel so great!

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