I have a few thoughts about managing depression. I have zero credentials save for life experience. My current bout of depression is not my first. I’ve been in the trenches before.
My mood is sitting at “I feel like dogshit and kind of wish I was dead but feelings aren’t in my control so let’s focus on the things that are” and the second half of that sentence feels like bullshit too. I don’t want to focus on the things in my control. I want to do absolutely nothing and to tell the truth, I’m a bit pissed off that I’m back here again.
Or I would be if I could drum up enough energy and enthusiasm. I’m all about sitting in my chair and trying not to think these days. Which is better than lying in bed. At least there is up happening.
The apathy of depression is hard.
If you could get up, you’d feel better but getting up leads to getting dressed, and that leads to leaving your room, and talking to people, and pretending life feels anything but empty. That seems like a lot of work. Too much work. Far better to stay in bed than to try and fail. And you will fail. Depression assures you of that.
So, making it to the chair is a win. I had to wade through a fair amount of mental crap to get there. I just keep repeating, “things that aren’t in my control” while trying to ignore the ugly darkness of my brain.
The enormity of doing what needs to be done is almost too much to bear when you’re depressed. The weight of obligation overwhelms when all you want to do is disappear.
I realized a few years back, however, that there’s a work-around.
Half-assed executions are just fine.
It took me time to believe that. I’m a perfectionist from way back. The thing is, perfectionism is a losing game. You can never be good enough. The push for perfection is just your neuroses’ way of keeping you in line.
I bargain with my depression all the time to get things done. I bargain for the acceptance of mediocrity.
Good enough is good enough and compromise is underrated.
Shower and you don’t have to shave.
Change your shirt and you can wear your pajama bottoms.
Weed the garden for fifteen minutes and you can go back inside.
Walk on the elliptical for five minutes and you can go back to sitting in your chair.
Dust the furniture in the family room and you can watch some television.
Although depression would tell you otherwise, small victories are important. Small victories are movement in the right direction. They give you momentum, a nice change from depression’s inertia.
When I wrangle an agreement on half-assing it from the depression overlords, it’s a win. It leads to doing something which is orders of magnitude better than doing nothing. It gets me out of my bed, out of my chair.
I also write it down. I document the things I’ve done on a notepad. That way, I have a list of accomplishments I can pat myself on the back for.
The execution is not perfect but it’s far better than the nothing that occurs when “perfection or nothing” is the mindset. When I compromise, I may not end up looking like a supermodel with superior homemaking skills, but I do end up relatively clean and semi-dressed, with eating, exercising, tidying, and getting outside to my credit.
Activity doesn’t eliminate depression. But depression’s protests to the contrary, doing something half-assed is infinitely better than doing nothing. Accomplishing things, even in a have-assed fashion, helps you remember you have worth, a belief depression strips away.
Getting things done “right” is nice but sometimes, simply getting it done is more important.