Depression Expression: Part V – pessimism, progress, and journals

I promised myself I would try to be more prolific with my writing whilst stuck at home feeling depressed. However, depression had other ideas, as it usually does. But anyway, I have managed to get myself into the mood to put pen to paper, or to put finger to keyboard at least, and I don’t need to get out of bed to do so, so here is an update. I may even write some posts that aren’t about depression at some point! Maybe.

Some time ago, I wrote about my coping mechanisms. They haven’t been going so well; I’ve lapsed out of any hint of routine. I get so angry and frustrated with myself for not being able to stick to anything for long, even those things which help. I feel as though I am constantly playing catch up just to live a ‘normal’ life, whilst my bigger ambitions and goals get placed on hold, day after day, week after week, month after month, and most frighteningly, year after year. My looming 40th birthday is causing me to panic a lot more about that, as I realise how much time I have wasted over the past decade, just trying to not be in a bad mood.

I think that’s the most terrifying thing about this condition: the awareness. I am intelligent and fully aware of the numerous ways in which I am making things more difficult for myself, and of all the ways in which I have messed up, self-sabotaged, missed opportunities, not tried hard enough, hidden away. However, I watch as though I’ve woken up during an operation – paralysed and powerless, but knowing everything that’s going on and feeling the resulting pain regardless.

In the midst of feeling like this, I sometimes get a burst of energy and have what I’d call a ‘good’ day – a day in which I make plans, write goals, get things organised, maybe do a little housework. On these days, I will communicate with friends, tell them I am feeling ‘better’, get dressed, put make up on, and sometimes go out and have fun. However after these bursts of energy go, I am usually left feeling more tired and drained than before. It has been taking days to a week to recover from them, during which time I get behind with life again. The next burst of energy cycles up, and I try again, but I have further to climb back to than before, and don’t quite manage it. I am slipping. It’s especially embarrassing and demoralising to admit to feeling futile again after I have impressed everyone with how much ‘better’ I was a couple of days beforehand. People often ask me ‘why’I’m feeling down again, and I can rarely give an answer. Nothing has necessarily changed, or got worse in my life, it’s just that my head has decided to give up and hide.

I have been desperately scanning productivity and lifestyle blogs, in order to find routines and coping mechanisms that have worked for others when they are this deep in the beast’s clutches. One that has helped a little is beginning a bullet journal. I did actually do this for a short time a couple of years ago, and it worked for a while, until I neglected it after my father died. I find it helps in that all my disparate thoughts are gathered together in one place, which is good when my brain is ceaselessly jumping from one thought to the next in a completely non-linear way. It does help to just grab that one notebook and write everything I need to in it, whether that be recording how I’m feeling or just making lists of what I need to do. The unstructured nature of it appeals to me – this journal is an extension of my crazy head.

There are many many YouTube channels and online blogs devoted to the bullet journal; it has almost become a religion – you find girls and women who use it as a creative outlet and smother it in pictures, stickers and the like with an almost religious fervour (that reminds me so much of being back at school with girls obsessively covering their notebooks and making them ‘pretty’- instead of actually doing some work in them- that it drives me crazy), but the original idea, created by Ryder Carroll, is stunning in its simplicity. And saves me from spending £60 I don’t have on an overpriced planner. NOTE: I don’t have anything against those people going the extra mile to make their journals more attractive – in fact I follow a lot of them on Pinterest and the like – but to my depressed mind it represents a level of commitment that I can’t aspire to without feeling tired and overwhelmed.

Mine is a little pretty when I feel like it, but mostly just functional. I may not be sticking to my to dos etc but at least I have a vague idea of what is going on with my week now. It has made remembering appointments etc a little easier. I do have everything on my phone but when I am especially down, I don’t look at my phone, have it on silent, and don’t recharge it when needed so I often miss calls and notifications. Incorporating a habit tracker into it has also proved useful. Looking back at the last three or so weeks, I can see how often I have eaten, showered, done something creative (hint: not very bloody often), and that does show me how my mood is affecting my life. If the first step is assessment, maybe I will get somewhere, I don’t know.

Shout-out to all my fellow depressives out there. I wish we could magically sort this out so we can embrace our talents and get out there in the world rather than depriving it of us. I’m really interested to know how you all cope when you are particularly bad, perhaps we can learn from each other. I will include some links below to some of the websites I have found helpful.

I’m sending love to you all.

Helpful websites:

You Feel Like Shit:

A question-and-answer quiz to try and suggest some self-care. Helpful for overcoming mental paralysis.

Why Procrastinators Procrastinate and How to Beat Procrastination:

Not about depression per se. But as procrastination can play a huge part in depressive symptoms, a great read to help you to recognise it and learn some ways to overcome it. This is also an extremely funny article. If you have the time (and aren’t procrastinating, hehe), read all Tim’s articles. The guy is very intelligent, articulate and witty about a wide number of subjects, and it’s hard not to smile whilst you read.(I may have a slight internet crush on him). His other readers are also pretty damned knowledgeable too, and the comments can be almost as interesting as the articles.

Cal Newport:

http://calnewport.comCal Newport:/blog/archive/

An incredibly productive guy who blogs about productivity. Not to be read when you’re really having a bad day, as you’ll just hate yourself more for not even having an ounce of the motivation which shines from his big toe. However very interesting when you’re trying to make plans to improve.

Depression Comix:

I have mentioned this online comic before and I shall again. Clay seems to have an unnerving accuracy in the way he hits the nail on the head when it comes to describing how suffering from depression and other mental disorders actually feels – I have found it useful in the past to refer people to certain pages to help them understand rather than trying to explain it. It’s also great for realising you’re not the only one; others are going through it too and understand your suffering.

Let me know of any websites/ blogs etc you’ve found to be beneficial too.  Until next time, Malloy out.

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