This is the second time I’ve started this post. As usual, my first attempt was an excessively wordy explanation of this new series and to quote a former coworker of mine, “ain’t nobody got time for that!”
Here’s the skinny, the scoop, the dope (trying desperately to revive 40’s/50’s slang): During the past few months, I have struggled with an increased level of depression, melancholy (breaking out the 1800’s terminology), and, of course, the accompanying lack of motivation and energy. I want to know – what gives? (Okay, I’ll stop now.)
In my opinion, one of the best ways to figure out what’s going on, is to take notes or journal. Not only does this help remove some of the mental fog depression creates, it can also help identify certain patterns and common threads that may be feeding depression. I already have a few suspects in mind, and I want to reveal the culprits so they’re no longer lurking in the dark.
Also, I hope that perhaps airing my own dirty depression laundry, will help others understand that they are not alone and that depression is nothing to be ashamed of. Or, perhaps it will provide some insight for those who do not suffer from depression but know someone who does.
April 2016 Depression Recap
Productivity – Almost Nil
Spiritual: My prayer time suffered, but I managed short, feeble pleas to the Lord whilst showering or attempting to accomplish one household chore a day. On a brighter note, we did manage to attend church every Sunday.
Blog: Since I spent much of April on the couch binge-watching entire detective series and polishing off an entire package of Oreo Double Stuff cookies, I did not get a lot of blogging done. I did finally finish a post I had struggled with for months which was a happy achievement; however, I’m not thrilled that I only posted twice on my blog last month.
House: I usually do a “big” clean once a week, but failed miserably in April. Unfortunately, when I skip the big cleaning days, you notice it quickly in our house. It is not a large house and when you consider there are basically four adults and too many cats living under this one roof, things can quickly get out of hand. Laundry piles up almost instantaneously and, now that it’s warmer weather, there’s enough cat hair to produce several more feline companions.
I also had plans to finally organize those awful kitchen drawers and cabinets – needless to say, that did not happen.
YouTube Channel: I deleted my YouTube channel in April. Although it made me sad on one hand, on the other it was a relief. I thoroughly enjoy making videos, but, as is often the case for me, I couldn’t seem to let it be “just a hobby.” When I didn’t make videos for weeks on end, I started feeling stressed and guilty despite having few subscribers and very few views. So, I let it go.
One thing. Every day.
Sometimes that one thing was getting ready. On other days it was washing a load of laundry or sweeping the floor. The good thing about having pets is that they don’t care if you’re depressed – you have to take care of them. Sometimes, that was my one thing – keeping them on schedule with their medicines and feeding/watering times.
As I mentioned, I attempted to pray every day, regardless of how feeble it was. Sometimes I was able to engage in regular quiet time, but most days it was a “Lord, please don’t let me fall further down the well,” prayer as I attempted to accomplish my one, daily activity.
I visited my counselor.
I tried to cut myself some slack and not engage in the self-criticism for which I have such a talent.
Comparison to Others
Last month, I fell into that trap of comparing myself to everyone under the sun – my friends, my Mom, women I watch on YouTube or follow on Facebook and Instagram. I think this is a fairly common practice and, in my opinion, one of the most dangerous for those of us prone to depression. I admire these women very much. They always seem to have their act together, their homes are havens of cleanliness and delightful organization. They’re full of creative ideas for family time and usually manage to whip up healthy meals for dinner every night even after working all day. Witnessing this level of accomplishment can quickly make someone struggling to find the energy to shower feel like a complete waste of space.
I’m in a bit of a catch 22 here. I enjoy watching YouTube videos and perusing Pinterest boards that cover topics such as home organization, decor, and creative ways to budget. They often inspire me and impart ideas/hacks I would not have thought of on my own.
On the other hand, I then find myself thinking, “Oooh, I could do that! I can organize all the kitchen cabinets…clear out that manky old spice cupboard…clean up the utensil drawer…cull some cleaning products…finally finish that hallway painting project and even manage to whip up a healthy vegan mac and cheese alternative for dinner! No problem! Except, there is a problem. I simply can’t do it all at once, not many people could. Yet I allow these unrealistic expectations to germinate in my brain which, traitor that it is, continues to nag me and tell me I should be able to accomplish all these things especially as I don’t even have a “real” job at the moment.
But, I know my brain and I know it is going to pull the rug out from underneath me at any moment and release the dark, shady visitor that is depression. With each visit comes the lack of energy and motivation that quickly puts the kibosh on all those lofty project ideas as my brain continues to whisper “failure.”
Solutions to Work On
Accept that I am a person who suffers from depression and plan accordingly.
This doesn’t mean I lay down and give up. This doesn’t mean I use depression as a crutch or an excuse NOT to do things. This means that some days it is a genuine struggle for me to drag myself out of bed. It means that my energy level suffers and it is not realistic to take on multiple major projects because it is unlikely I will complete them. This, in turn, will simply lead to more feelings of guilt and failure.
Stop comparing myself to others.
I can only do the best I can with what I have. This means I need to pace myself and start setting myself up for success rather than failure. I need to focus on small accomplishments and gain momentum from those.
Congratulations! You have finally reached the end of this inaugural Monday’s Mental Health
If you are struggling to accomplish even the most mundane of tasks this week, please keep going, don’t give up. Get up, brush your teeth, wash your face,and maybe even shower. Trust me, doing just one thing is better than doing nothing.
Have your own tips and tricks for dealing with depression? I’d love to hear them!