A vibrant sun emerging from dark clouds, symbolizing the start of a journey to combat depression.

Empowering Families to Fight Depression Together

Depression in teenagers is a topic that is deeply personal to my wife and me. Both of us have battled serious bouts of depression and understand the importance of finding solutions that are not only effective but also accessible to everyone. We have friends with teenage children who are struggling with depression, and it is truly heartbreaking. This is personal for us. We have seen firsthand the debilitating effects of depression, the way it can rob a person of their joy, their energy, and their zest for life. We have also seen the transformative power of effective interventions, the way they can bring light back into a person's life. This is why we are so passionate about sharing what we have learned, about providing tools and techniques that can help combat depression. 

The Mental Prison

Depression among teenagers is a pervasive issue today. According to the World Health Organization, depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents1. The struggles faced by teenagers with depression are multifaceted and complex. They grapple with feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed. They may also experience physical symptoms such as changes in appetite or sleep patterns.

Depression can feel like being trapped in a mental prison, where the walls keep closing in, making the world seem smaller and darker. It's like being shackled by invisible chains that limit one's ability to experience joy, hope, and vitality. As parents, we play a crucial role in supporting our teenagers through these challenging times. We are often their first line of defense, their primary source of comfort and guidance. However, it can be incredibly difficult to know how to best support a child who is struggling with depression. We may feel helpless, overwhelmed, or even scared. This is where effective tools and strategies come into play.


The Solution

The power of positive mental habits and understanding habit formation can be transformative. These techniques are like keys that can unlock the chains of depression, allowing one to break free from the mental prison. At Merlinstruction we have developed a technique that relies on a collection of positive affirmations, the habit tracker, the memory palace and our emotional tracker. Together these form a powerful toolbox to change cognitive and physical habits and thus break free from the mental prison of depression and reach a growth mindset. 

By learning how to form new, positive habits, and how to break old, negative ones, we can further empower our children to combat depression and reclaim their lives.

The Goal 

You can employ most of these techniques without our toolbox, and we share this method here with you, with the goal of empowering your children to combat depression effectively and live their best life. We hope that through these innovative techniques your child will overcome their struggles and thrive, and we are committed to providing the tools and resources to make this possible.


The Solution

Step 1: Positive Affirmations

The first step in combating depression is understanding the power of positive affirmations. These are positive statements that can help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. When you repeat them often, and believe in them, you can start to make positive changes. This works by breaking the negative attention bias which is the initial cause of anxiety.

Your first task is to write down 28 affirmations that resonate with you. These could be statements like "I am worthy of happiness", "I am strong and resilient", or "I am in control of my life".

Step 2: The Method of Loci and Memory Palace

The Method of Loci, also known as the memory palace technique, is a method used for memory enhancement which uses visualizations with the use of spatial memory, familiar information about one's environment, to quickly and efficiently recall information. This method is most commonly used in conjunction with other memory techniques such as linking and chunking.

We will use the bestiary on the weekly schedule as our memory palace. Each day of the week from Sunday to Saturday has four spots associated with a specific creature, totaling 28 spots. The spots are intended to be read as Morning, Forenoon, Afternoon and Evening. The sequence starts on Sunday morning with the Albatross (representing 'A') and continues alphabetically throughout the week.

Now, to associate your affirmations with the beasts, you need to create a vivid mental image of each beast performing the action or embodying the affirmation. For example, if your affirmation is "I am strong and resilient", you could imagine the Albatross soaring through a storm, unphased and strong. If your affirmation is "I am in control of my life", you could envision the Bison standing tall and firm in the face of a stampede, directing its course with determination.

The more vivid and detailed your mental images, the better. This process will help you remember your affirmations and make them a part of your daily routine.

To further reinforce these associations, write down the full story with the affirmations performed by the beasts in your journal. This will serve as a tangible reminder of your affirmations and their associated images, and will help you in the initial stages of memorizing them.

Remember, the goal is to make these affirmations a part of your daily thought process, and associating them with these vivid images will help them stick in your mind.

Step 3: Habit Formation and Tracking

Habit formation is a process by which new behaviors become automatic. If you instinctively reach for a toothbrush as part of your morning routine, or lace up your running shoes as soon as you get home from work, you've got a habit. While some habits can be detrimental, others can significantly improve our quality of life. In this case, we're focusing on the formation of positive habits that can help combat depression.

To begin with, we will place the habit tracker next to our weekly schedule. The habit tracker is a simple, yet powerful tool that helps us keep track of our habits and see our progress over time. It's a visual reminder of our goals and provides a sense of satisfaction every time we mark off a day.

The first habit you want to develop is the daily recitation of your affirmations. To do this, you will place the "Affirmation card" on the Habit tracker. Every day, after you’ve gone through your affirmations, you will mark off the day on the tracker. This will serve as a visual reminder of our progress and will motivate you to keep going.

To make this process more rewarding, you will place a "Chocolate Cake" card at the bottom of the habit tracker. This is your reward if you manage to stick to your affirmations for 28 days. The idea here is to associate the habit with a positive outcome, making it more likely that you will stick to it.

Once you have managed to do this for 28 days you have earned your reward and can eat your chocolate cake. You will now select two more habits to add to your tracker. These could be anything from making your bed, cleaning your room, keeping a journal, meditating, running, or doing some exercise. The key here is to choose habits that you believe will contribute positively to your mental health. For each of these habits, we will also choose a reward, such as a movie night at the cinema or a horseback riding session. The rewards should be something you look forward to and will motivate you to stick to your habits.

Research has shown that these habits, such as regular exercise, spending time in nature, and maintaining a clean and organized living space, can have a significant positive impact on mental health. By incorporating these habits into our daily routine, you’re creating a positive feedback loop that reinforces your positive affirmations and contributes to your overall mental well-being.

Step 4: Emotional Tracking

The emotional tracker is another important tool in our arsenal. It's a simple way to keep track of our mood and emotional state over time. By tracking our emotions, we can gain a better understanding of our emotional patterns, identify triggers, and take steps to improve our emotional health.

The emotional tracker is placed on the same weekly schedule used as a memory palace for your positive affirmations. Each day, after going through your affirmations and habits, you place an "Emotion card" on the tracker. This card represents our overall emotional state for the day. Over time, this will give us a clear picture of our emotional trends and help us identify any patterns or triggers.

By integrating the emotional tracker with your memory palace and the habit tracker, you create a comprehensive system that not only helps you combat depression but also promotes overall mental well-being. This system is simple, kept in one place, and helps with recall, as you will be reminded of your positive affirmations when placing your emotion card on the emotional tracker each day.


In conclusion, we believe that the method of loci, positive habit formation, and emotional tracking can be powerful tools in combating teenage depression. These techniques, along with the use of the "Family Time" set, a tool that incorporates these techniques and provides a structured, user-friendly platform for habit formation and emotional tracking, can promote learning, personal development, and open family communication.

We encourage you to implement the steps outlined in this blog post and try out the "Family Time" box. Together, we can empower all of our children to combat depression and live their best life. We believe in the power of these techniques, and we hope that they can make a difference in your child's life, just as they have in our own lives..


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