How to get things done when you’re depressed. 

I will say right off the bat that it is no easy feat to get things done while being Depressed and/or Anxious. I think the worst of it all is that people who don’t have a mental illness don’t get that.

They say, “Just get it done.” “Do what you gotta do.”

The one thing you have to understand about people like that is that they mean well but they unknowingly harm you.

Don’t sit with those ignorant comments because you know your truth.

You know that it’s a big deal when you are able to hold it together long enough to shower or wash the dishes or return an email.

This specific mental illness makes it virtually impossible to think rationally or to understand the world around you coherently.

Small tasks are overlooked because we are so afraid of the bigger picture. Getting one small thing done feels like nothing because of all the worrying about the things you’ll have to do in the future. It makes you feel like there really isn’t any point to life or doing anything at all because it will never amount up to anything.

We think these things because depression is an asshole that complicates our thoughts. It’s like that crazy ex we just can’t shake. And if you have anxiety, well, you find yourself being anxious about the thoughts that depression makes you have and you start to think even more irrationally.

So I wanted to share a tip that has seemed to help me in my time of struggle.

Write. It. Down.

I can’t take credit for this concept. I heard it time and time again in group therapy and from my former Therapist, Theresa.

It’s such a simple idea. Write down a list of things you have to get done, write your worries/fears/concerns about it, come up with a solution that has always been there but you couldn’t see because of the depressive fog that surrounds you.

It’s not meant to make you blame yourself or make you feel weak. Depression thinks for you sometimes. Writing things down can help you combat those thoughts because you see the words right in front of you. For a moment your mind goes from a room full of loose paper flying about in an endless swirl of chaos to a neat rows of color coordinated filing cabinets. It allows you to think of one thing at one time and focus on it. The bigger picture is no longer important. You begin to cross things off and before you know it you’re caught up on your tasks.

Trust me, I know it isn’t easy.

I have had thoughts like “What’s the point? If I do this today I have a whole bunch of shit to do the next day. It never ends. I can never have peace.”

I’ve actually said that before.

But if we are still alive and we are still working on things, why not try something new? I mean, what’s the alternative?

We’ve already experienced pain, boredom, indifference, existential thoughts, suicidal thoughts, and having lost all hope.

Why not fill the time with doing stuff that may actually improve things around us regardless of whether or not Depression lets us see it?

If you have depression and you plant a flower, it still blooms whether or not you can comprehend its beauty.

Let’s try this together. I’ll use an example that I’ve actually dealt with in my own life.

I was down to my last clean pair of underwear.

It seriously felt like the end of the world to me.

I thought wow, I have no clean underwear. How am I supposed to face the world when I can’t even make sure I have clean underwear? I might as well just give up on everything else because what’s the point of doing anything anymore? I don’t see how I can make this or anything else better.

At that time I was still writing in my group therapy journal so I decided to vent about it in there.

Problem: No clean underwear.

I read it.

No clean underwear.

I read it again.

No clean underwear.

Solution: Wash a load of laundry.

Suddenly the fog lifted. I read the sentence and for a moment my mind wasn’t focused on anything else.

Reading and writing can do that for you.

Someone without depression would pretty much automatically realize that they should do their laundry when they run out of something, but in the mind of someone who is depressed the solution isn’t even remotely clear because of all the other worries and thoughts that automatically flood to our brains.

Sooner or later after writing things down and getting said things done, you’ll feel accomplished. You’ll feel like you grew a little. You’ll feel normal. (Some therapists say “What is normal?” You know what normal means to you.)

If you find that this method works for you then try it with irrational fears.

Thought: I’m worthless

Reason: I can’t seem to do anything right, I hate myself, no one likes me, my life means nothing, I want to die, I don’t contribute anything to the world.

Dispute initial thought: (Really think about this one. Play devil’s advocate.)

I have cats who depends on me for food, shelter, and love, so there’s some worth there. There are people that fight to help me everyday even though I don’t always feel it, so I must be worth something to them. I’m in school and have a job, and though sometimes it’s really hard for me to get through it, I try as hard as I can with this illness. I make people laugh because I’m funny. My Husband, mom, and brothers love me, etc etc etc.

Your reasons will be different from mine. Don’t get it twisted, these aren’t “reasons to live” or whatever. This is to help you get some peace in your head for a little while because while we’re alive and dealing with every day life, we should be allowed to do it with some degree of peace.

I hope this finds you well!

-Jess

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