Being depressed means I spend a lot more time than most people working up the nerve to start my day. I don’t mean housework, though that’s a big part of it as well, but even to do the routine work to get through my morning: brush my teeth, eat breakfast, change my clothes, and so on. If I don’t have to go to work that day, I often find myself still in my pajamas in the late afternoon, starving from not having eaten anything all day. The more I think about how I’ve gotten nothing done, the more I panic, and the less likely I’ll start actually taking care of myself. It’s actual black dread to look at the clock and see that it’s already 2pm and realize I still haven’t eaten breakfast or lunch… only to glance back at the clock to see it is now 3:30, and I still haven’t even moved.
The really annoying thing is trying to get yourself out of depression. See, sometimes I’ll be in a really high, good mood, and so I’ll make a whole list of things that I’d like to get accomplished. I’ll make daily, then weekly schedules, all in the name of getting myself focused, on track, using my days off “productively,” even if by that I just mean playing a video game or reading a book. What almost always happens though is that I go overboard with my lists and schedules and planning, get exhausted just thinking about all the work I’m gonna have to do, and then collapse before I even start. This high is almost always followed by a very long period of being down, not just because of the natural cycle of depression but also because it is heartbreaking to realize that I’m never getting out of this.
Productivity apps? I’ve tried them, I’ve tried tons of them. I was a fairly regular user of Habitica until recently. But again, I’d load up on Tasks and Habits that I just couldn’t get started on, let alone finish. I was constantly getting penalized, but instead of motivating me to work harder, that just made me give up even more, resulting in a steeper climb back up just to get back to where I was. It was a mess. I’ve tried bullet journaling. I’ve tried setting weekly and daily reminders in Google Calendar. When I am down, I’m down; and after being down for a week, I lose all motivation to pick up from where I was before, no matter how great my streak had been before losing steam.
So, where does that leave me at the end of 2017?
I’m currently one week into my three-week winter holiday (which itself is a headache into itself, but I’ll get to that another day) and have been surprisingly productive. I don’t know if it’s that I’m on a high or if I’ve just been doing better recently, but it’s been nice riding this streak. For the past week, I’ve been:
- cooking dinner every night, and practicing simple dishes that I can make regularly
- reading a bunch of scifi and fantasy novels that I picked up in a recent Humble Bundle
- been writing short book reviews on Goodreads to get back into the practice of writing, even if they’re just a couple of paragraphs each
- resubscribed to JALT and been reading through the recent TLT issue
- getting at least some of my chores done every day, and letting go when I don’t finish instead of fixating on how little I’ve got done and panicking
- going out at least once a day, usually to go grocery shopping, a task that I don’t normally do
- riding my stationary bike for at least a few minutes a day, with no distance meters or timers or calorie counters to put any more pressure on me
- reactivated my Instagram account so I can keep up with old friends with silly phone pictures
It’s not been perfect, I still find myself losing entire hours without even realizing it, but overall I feel that over the past week I’ve been more aware, more present within my own body. I also still have the rather terrible habit of opening Twitter constantly, even when Twitter is already open and in front of me. I don’t want to go cold turkey on my account because it is therapeutic to write out my thoughts there, but I also don’t want it to be where my entire life gets sucked straight out of me.
I don’t really have any goals for 2018 except to try and keep this streak going for as long as possible, and to find more and better ways of handling my myriad issues. I also would like to, as I keep saying, blog more! I have a whole document full of blog ideas, but by far the hardest thing to do is to just get started. Let’s make it happen.