Doing All The Things - With Depression
Friday, January 25, 2013
I spent the entire day writing grants and yet here I am, writing some more. I must love writing.
I haven't been the most productive person lately. I work from home two days a week, and my track record for actually doing work has not been good - even at work I've been too easily distracted. I bought this book, ''Getting It Done When You're Depressed.'' I just love the fact that this book exists. It is all about productivity for depressed people - how to get work done when it feels impossible. The author is a person with severe chronic depression, like me. Finally, someone who understands.
The book is not meant to alleviate depression. The book is meant to teach you how to get things done while you're depressed. Some of the stuff is CBT 101, but there are a few things that really have stuck with me so far:
1. Accept that you won't get as much done as you normally would.
That's big for me, I think sometimes I have such an all-or-nothing approach when I am depressed. If I can't work at my peak performance, I don't want to work at all, I tell myself I can't work. Well, that's just not true. All this time I have been not even bothering to try.
2. Expect to be physically uncomfortable.
Yes, severe depression can have real physiological challenges. Body aches and pains, intense fatigue. Just standing up is a chore. A lot of times when I feel that fatigue I just lay down and go to sleep. It occurred to me, for like the first time ever, that just because I'm tired doesn't mean I need sleep. Like it's just another one of those things depression does to trick me.
3. Do it anyway.
That's the overall message of the book, basically. It's great because it has that element of ass-kicking that many people so desperately need, but it also fully understands and acknowledges how difficult this is to do with depression, and gives advice for handling it as you would handle any other chronic illness.
So, I tried an experiment this week. I ''did it anyway.'' I agreed it didn't have to be my best work, that I might be uncomfortable, that I'd probably be tired, that I might feel overcome by strong emotion, but it didn't matter, I committed to doing it. And I did it. Every single day this week I put in my full 8 hours, including today, where I worked from home.
It's actually been a very hard week in the realm of development because Monday we got some very bad news, and then first thing Tuesday I got some very negative feedback on an assignment. So to some extent I was upset about that. But I just told myself that this is a learning experience, I have only 6 months experience and it wasn't reasonable to expect perfection. I told myself that, and even though I was somewhat emotionally upset, I just got to work fixing the problem and by the end of the day turned in a substantially improved product. And I have learned a lot in just one week, and think the experience has improved the overall quality of my work.
And this is the thing - I was surprised to find how personally rewarding it was, how much respect I gained for myself, when I could put my nose to the grindstone and do it. I get depressed a lot on weekends and I realized that maybe part of the reason I'm so depressed is because I feel I'm not giving my best effort during the week. Well, I've been working hard, and I feel good about the weekend, like I can just relax because I earned it.
I guess I never considered the link between my productivity and my depression. Well, I have always known that slacking off makes me depressed, but what I didn't expect was that working hard would make me feel better.
Dom has been gone all month, but he arrives home late tonight, and he's staying for good. He had 10 internship interviews in five different states. He said he blocked off the entire weekend for me. I've missed him like crazy. He's an extraordinary human being. I know I might be a little biased, but I think, even from an objective standpoint, he is awesome. I still don't understand how I ended up with him - and I don't mean that in a self-deprecating way, it's just that we are so good for each other I imagine it's statistically very unlikely to have such a perfect fit with another human being. And to have that perfect fit complemented with real romantic attraction - well, it blows my mind.
These are my thoughts today. Please take care of yourselves. Maybe go do something you wouldn't ordinarily do and see if it works for you too.