A New Way to Battle Depression

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Normally, I’d reserve this type of post for my personal blog, but I figured if I’m feeling inclined to write, I might as well put it in a place where it might be useful to someone. My friend JT Eberhard convinced me that my way of thinking might help someone else put to words how they feel, and moreover this is actually an awesome idea for fighting mental illness and it might literally help someone with their brain weirdness. So, forgive the somewhat personal nature of the post.

Being depressed is about more than just emotions and moods. Yes, that’s a big part of depression: feeling bad all the time for no apparent reason, having disproportionate emotional responses, having a hard time enjoying things, etc. One of the most impactful struggles, however, is that your brain creates logical loopholes and selectively discards relevant information. It cripples your ability to think on a perfectly rational level.

Depression ebbs and flows for me, so some days I think more clearly than others. I take an ADD medication which helps immensely. I’ve also noticed that Ambien has an interesting effect on me. Ambien is a sleep medication that I take pretty regularly. If I don’t actually attempt to sleep within about a half hour of taking it, I find myself incredibly motivated to create things, organize my life, clean my apartment, and begin planning and working toward various goals. As you can imagine, this sometimes leads me to stay up even later, but I digress…

I get these random bursts of responsibility other times as well, but usually not quite as strongly. The rest of the time, I just sort of exist and scroll through Facebook or play a video game because (as JT said) it’s better than staring at the wall. I find it difficult to muster any fucks to give about all the things that need to be done, or even that I want to do. I just… don’t want to do anything. But there’s the tiny little voice screaming, “There are so many things! Why aren’t you doing any of them?!”

What I’ve started doing this past week is more or less treating the goal-oriented version of me like they’re the authority figure over the depressed version of me. I have brief moments where I’m lucid and I know what’s best for me, so I need to start trusting and listening to myself when I no longer feel motivated to advance in life. For a long time, I’ve viewed my depression this way: having two versions of me, the sane one and the depressed one. It’s weird and metaphorical and it helps a lot.

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Left: Stuff you should do: Pills, Teeth, Face, Trust me, I know wtf I’m talking about; Top: TAKE RESPONSIBILITY; Right: If you don’t like how things are, change them.; Bottom: And brush your fuckin’ teeth after work. [Husband adds: Fuck yooouuu!!]
It’s kind of hard to see, sorry about that. We bought some markers for writing on glass, and a few days ago (under the influence of Ambien) I put this stuff on our bathroom mirror. (Minus the comment added by my husband. :p) It’s weird how many times I get out of bed and think about brushing my teeth but then disregard it. “I’ll do it later,” I think. And then I end up running late for work with “no time” to brush them. So, past-me has laid down the law and removed the option to not brush them. I’ve been wanting to establish rituals for certain things, and I think waking up is an important one. Hence, take pills, brush teeth, wash face, and I also decided the day after I wrote this to put on deodorant after washing my face.

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You are not allowed to grind your teeth, chew your cheeks, or pick your skin.

I put this sticky note on my monitor yesterday, not while under the influence of Ambien. I have a bad habit of biting the insides of my cheeks and lips (dating from the days when I had braces) and grinding my teeth. I used to bite my nails, but I still chew the hard skin at their edges. I also pick and pull at my lips and at the pimples I get on my face, neck, and shoulders. There’s actually some scarring beginning to accumulate from picking at my skin. I’m aware of the existence of dermatillomania, so I’ve decided that I’m no longer allowed to do those things. It’s an extremely hard habit to break, but calling it to mind and stopping it when possible is an important first step.

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Shower, Make coffee, eat, Stretch, THEN you may turn on comp, Dishes, Laundry, Transcription

I left this note for myself last night, while heavily influenced by Ambien. Today is my day off, so I wanted to begin it well and actually do something with my time. I’m tired of sitting around doing nothing while my life wastes away. I’m tired and not at my best today, but I’m investing trust in the version of me that knows what we need to do. (In case you’re wondering, I followed the note except that I had to turn on my computer while I was eating because HabitRPG was about to have day rollover and I hadn’t put in all my dailies for yesterday.)

It remains to be seen if my resolve will hold on any of this, but it seems like a promising path. Hopefully someone else finds this useful in attempting to master their illnesses. Good luck. <3

I feel bad for this, but if you’re inclined to help me get an IUD and/or possibly some testosterone, here’s a link for that.

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A New Way to Battle Depression
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7 thoughts on “A New Way to Battle Depression

  1. 2

    Hey, glad to see you still writing and hanging in there! I have family members with variations on the similar issues. Maybe it’ll give them a new tool.

    Also, I would love to donate but I’m tapped out ATM. In a week or two I should get a paycheck and might be able to help out with the T-fund.

    1. 2.1

      Don’t send money if you’re generally low on funds! I ended up with an extra paycheck this month so I’m not hurting for it, and might be able to scrape up the funds (and courage) to just do it.

  2. 3

    I have similar experience with not wanting to do much. My best recent invention is a “to do” list that I can edit over time, on Google documents, with different sections for important tasks, current tasks, finished tasks, easy tasks, and unsorted tasks.

    Also, when I know I need to do something but feel unmotivated, counting down from ten is like this brain hack that sneaks around that, and then it’s pretty easy when I reach zero to go to my list of things to do and pick one.

    Mornings are still the hardest. Because mornings can go on for hours without me starting to do anything (and then I might feel uneasy and inadequate the rest of the day). I should probably try something like you are suggesting here. Or maybe I could try leechblock again to give me some time on the computer, just enough so that I know it’s best to move on with the day before hours go by.

    I just remembered another thing I tried a while ago I called “cheating” where I don’t evaluate myself on a percentage of how many of my planned tasks I got done. Instead, I mentally view the completion of zero tasks as the expected result at the end of the day, so that if I even do one single thing, it can be considered extra productive. And instead of feeling guilty for cheating I just allow myself to revel slightly in its evil genius. This tecnique helped me do an incredible amount of work that day and the next, but I seem to have forgotten to use it until now. Memory is also a problem…

    1. 3.1

      You might find this website helpful: http://www.Habitrpg.com

      Maybe not with the having zero expectations for the day thing.

      I used to do that too though! I would expect to get C’s in school so I could be pleasantly surprised when it was higher than that. Strangely successful method.

  3. 4

    I find myself in this posting… I can’t even count how often I made resolutions late at night, how I would do everything different and more organized from the next day on. Sadly, it never really worked longer than two weeks. Most times it works for about … one day?

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