The Cost of Depression

A Pier in Lisbon - I want to go back there

This is a personal post, although I’m going to try and stay away from self-indulgent whining as much as possible and instead focus on actions I (and by extension other people in my situation) can take to make things better.

I am depressed. Am I suffering from clinical depression of the sort that you see on TV and in the news? I don’t know. Mostly I feel numb, unmotivated, unable to make myself do things.

Sometimes I discover that half the day has gone by and I’ve watched unending youtube videos. Sometimes I discover that I’m playing Mahjong or solitaire and I have been for two hours, and now it’s almost two AM and I’m still staring at my computer instead of going to bed. Occasionally I’ll realise that I haven’t left my house in a week and that I haven’t talked to other human beings face to face or even on the phone in days, my only interaction with people has been virtual.

I get the feeling that this might not be the healthiest way to deal with the world.

That’s depression, and for a long time, I didn’t realise that. I was oblivious to the problem, thinking that I was just unemotional, that my lack of motivation was laziness and that I should just push through it (there’s some truth to the second part of that – I’ll get back to it). I started therapy earlier this year and discovered that I am in fact depressed. Very, and I have been for a very long time.

On Wednesday I was in a meeting and I started talking about something that happened, I was on the verge of bawling. Not just tears, but full-on collapse. There were some tears, but I sort of kept it together. The meeting was in a professional environment for professional reasons, so I didn’t let that happen, but honestly part of me wishes I had.

Depression hurts my productivity. When I’m in the full grip of it I’m almost completely unable to do anything.

So, that’s the cost, it destroys my life, it leaves me unable to act, unable to relate to the people around me, unable to manage my life. It’s a bitch to deal with.

The next part of what I need to think about is how to fix it.

I’m working through a book on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It’s a workbook and I need to spend a bit more time with it, to take the time to do all of the tasks listed. So far I’ve done most of them, but a couple were larger ones. It’s a very, very good book and I highly recommend it.

So, that’s one path I’m using to fix my depression.

I’m also working on a few specific avenues outside of the book. The first one is screen time. For the last two days, I haven’t let myself be on my phone for a while before bed. That helps with sleep, a lot more than I was thinking it did. I’ve been inclined to insomnia most of my life, but apparently, I’m not too bad right now. Just staying off my phone for an hour before bed has really improved things. That also means being off of my computer. Instead, I write in my journal. I do a quick recap of the day, the things I’m feeling. One downside to that: I have been focusing on the negative things a bit more than I think is healthy, and maybe I should move to the positive (I have one huge negative right now that takes up maybe ninety percent of my non-work thoughts).

In the morning I don’t let myself look at my phone right away. I take a hot shower, then I drop the temperature to frigid, bordering on icy, for fifteen seconds. Then I dry off and work out. After I do exercise I let myself look at my phone. It doesn’t matter how much I want to look at my phone before then, I don’t let myself (and I want to, if I hear a message alert especially – it’s like the possibility of water to a person lost in the desert, but it’s never the one I want to see anyway).

There are rules that I used to have for my house, and I’ve gone back to them. I do dishes every night before bed. I do laundry every Wednesday, I change my sheets every Thursday (I have no idea how often you are supposed to do that, but once a week works for me). I try to sweep every couple of days and mop once a week. The dishes are the big one. If I let them go I feel hopeless. Groceries are also on Thursday.

Those are steps I’m already taking. There’s more that I have planned, but it has to be done like that, piece by piece. Taking on too much means I will manage it for a day or two, then I will falter, then I will fail, then I will fall deeper into depression because I failed.

So, the bits that are planned for the future: More cardio. I have very little cardio in my life right now. My morning exercise is mostly strength based because I enjoy that a great deal more than I like cardio, and it takes up less time. However, I know cardio has a larger effect on my mood. Cardio is what really pushes me into a positive space.

Socialization. I’m isolated right now. It’s my choice, my own doing, but I need to change it. I need to interact with more people, hell, maybe even find a community of people in the real world to interact with. I used to have one, but I let that go… it was a gradual winnowing process, and in the end, I ended up basically alone most of the time. I think a step I can take to fix this is to work at a cafe at least a couple of days a week. That way I’m in a space where other humans exist and I’m able to leave my home, to experience the world.

I’m even considering going out tomorrow, there’s a show that seems like it might be fun. Sure, I’ll be going by myself, but that’s not so bad, right?

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