Getting stuff done with depression

Editor’s note: I first wrote this piece in 2019 but never finished or published it. However, the information here is still good so I’ve decided to finish it and post it. I already took the students to Corpus Christi. It was amazing! Read on.

Dear Reader,

It’s Spring Break! Woo hoo! I’m so excited and so happy to have some time to myself. Not too much time, of course. There’s still papers to grade and things to get done before going on a trip to Corpus Christi with my students.

One of the great things about have some time to yourself is the ability to consider things and watching TED videos, the best source of self help on the Internet, hands down. One that I recently, about how to get stuff done when you have depression.

Oh, I know this subject well. Some days it’s so difficult to get out of bed and other days I’m awake for hours. Lately, the depression has been under control. I’m working on my depression plan and learning about its triggers and how to best to control and manage it.

It’s important to know and understand, dear Reader, that everyone’s depression is different. And depression interacts differently in every body. For me, it’s very physical. The skin on my arms feel strange. My face contorts. I seem to fold into myself. There is a heaviness in my bones and a shortness of breath. Then I’ll feel tired for no reason. The non-physical traits of my depression includes the extreme self-doubt and deprecation. I say things to and about myself that no one should. I doubt myself and I feel so very low.

This is what I know about my depression. But here’s the thing, guys, despite the depression, you still HAVE to get things done. You still have to go to work. You will have deadlines. You will have a life to live.

So here are my things that I’m doing to understand and manage my depression. I will say that these are the things I’m either trying or are working for me. Again, every depression is different so you’ll want to consult your doctor or healthcare practitioner to talk through what may work for you.

Routines

I also have anxiety pretty bad and routines are very helpful. My night routine is super helpful and it’s pretty basic. I make sure that I shower at night and do the whole treating myself well routine with super soft towels and bathrobe and nice smelling soap. I also make sure that all my clothes are laid out and ready for the next day. My computer and electronics are charging and that I have something to look forward to before I sleep like a book or movie.  I put all the things I’ll need for the next day all together in the same spot and I set my alarm for the next day. I try not to do any journaling at night because it’ll reeve up my brain but mediation is perfect during this time and I try to do it though I’ve been slipping as of late.

Yes, that’s it. That’s my night routine. I know it sounds basic but it works for me. What it does is that it cuts down on my anxiety in the morning. What do I wear? Where is my purse? Am I going to need my laptop today? While most people do this to cut down on time issues in the morning, I have had my fair share of anxiety attacks in the morning when I don’t know what to do or even what to wear. This helps.

In addition to a night routine, it’s important to have a work routine as well. For me, I try to make it into work with enough time to sit in my office before class. I usually have my lesson plans done the day before so I usually go over them during that time. I drink my coffee, and listen to something like music or a podcast (it’s usually a continuation from my car ride). I like to go over my to-do list (which I’ve done the day before) to know what I have for the day.  So by the time I get into the classroom, I have a good sense of the day.

My doctor has also encouraged an all day routine with certain touchpoint along the way. For example, get up at the same time each day, have dinner no later than 7 p.m. Exercise around the same time. Electronics off an hour before bed time. These routines have helped, which is weird since I never use to be a routine person at all. Wonders never cease.

Bullet Journal

I don’t know what I would do without my Bullet Journal. Literally it’s my to do list, my planner, my mood tracker, my gratitude list, my brain. It’s everything. This is how I try to keep centered. And it can also be part of my night routine. The to-do part of it allows me to plan and to consider what I need to get done for the day. At this point, some folks will rank it. I haven’t needed to do that yet as I just do things in the pockets of time I have, however, I do look to see what has to get done that day and then move things to another day if I need to.

My favorite part of the Bullet Journal system has to be the Habit Tracker. I know there are certain things I need to get done that help me balance. It’s things like reading, writing in my journal, writing, meditation, etc. that I keep track that I do and that I hope become habits.

It works for some things like writing in my journal with some regularity, however, it has not helped with blogging. I’ll have to try something else for that.

You can essentially track anything you want/need to create a habit. For example, drinking water or sleeping. That all helps with tracking the impact of your mental health.

Forgiving Yourself Often

Repeat after me: you are not a robot.

Look, you have depression. You can’t fix it but you can maintain it. That means that there will be times that you fail at things. And that means that when you fail, you MUST forgive yourself. You are human. Humans make mistakes. It is inevitable.

All you can do is learn from it, take a breath, and try again. That’s all.

By the way, anyone who makes you feel bad about being human is gaslighting you. Stay away from those people. You don’t need that kind of strife in your life.

Keep a list of things 

I don’t know about your depression but mine gives me ideas. All the time. At lightening speed. So when I’m not feeling awful, my brain is in overdrive and I get the best ideas. Great  ideas. So I write them down

But it’s not just ideas but certain things like: cool places to go on a road trip, what will the ultimate vacation trip look like, if you could do anything in one hour with no deadlines, what would you do?

The lists aren’t so much a to do list but daydreaming. Sometimes we need some daydreaming. And if you’ve got depression, you need a bright spot.

Talking about day dreaming, it’s Spring Break, the second during the pandemic. I’m going to go make one of these daydreaming lists. This is the most traveling I’m going to get to do this week.

Sailing away (metaphorically),

Icess

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