If you Think you are Depressed now, what Should you Do?
The first thing to do is to ignore, for a the next 30 minutes, the tasks and projects that you aren’t doing AND also ignore how awful or worthless you might be feeling.
Dwelling on these topics will NOT provide you with the most necessary solutions.
Read this first : Depressed ISN'T Sad
This will help you ask the right questions instead. For now, the right questions are:
1. “How well have I been doing in Getting Things Done in the last two days (or two hours, or two weeks)?”
If you’ve not been doing that well, then ask yourself:
2. “How well can I Focus?”
If you are not able to do that well either, then you are probably Depressed.
If you ARE Depressed, Do this Next
Step 1 : Stop to Take Care of Yourself
You currently are undergoing a medical problem that is as severe as a very bad migraine, or a broken leg, and it’s happening now! Just because Depression shows no physical signs does NOT mean it’s not severe.
Step 2 : Take your Meds
If you have a prescription for meds, take them. If necessary, ask your partner, housemate, to physically stand in front of you with the meds and make sure you actually take them. This is a real thing, and I'm not joking.
Step 3: Tell the closest persons you are Depressed
It only needs to be one person, if that's all you can manage. They can tell the other people if needs be. But you MUST warn your family and friends that you are Depressed - they won't automatically know. But if they know, they can set in motion the support steps that need to be done for whenever you get Depressed.
Instead of, you know, accusing you of being a lazy worthless git.
Step 4 : Ask for Help
Have your partner / housemate / parent / friend call in sick to your office. Have them tell that you can't make it to the Thanksgiving dinner, or to your friend's dinner party. The phrasing of the excuse is "X can't make it into office / the dinner party / etc. today. They aren't feeling well. We're really sorry." (adjust for context)
If possible, have your partner or someone organise to get the kids dressed and ready for school. Have someone pick up a take out dinner for you (and the family) or order delivery. Have someone walk and feed the dogs. Have someone put out the garbage.
KEEP CHARTING YOUR MOODS. You are not likely to be able to do it by yourself, so ask someone to make sure you do it every day.
Step 5 : Accept you're Not going to Get much Done
Assume you won’t go for your afternoon run, or stop to pick up groceries. Accept this is all ok. You’re not well at all.
Cut back on the number of things that you expect to get done and focus only on the absolutely essential tasks - like feeding the kids or paying the electricity bill.
It's hard to get this one to work - you are likely to stress out over all the undone tasks. But try.
These days, I know enough not to worry about all the things I’m not getting done. And over the years, the people in my support system have learned to work around me when I get Depressed and I am having difficulties Getting Things Done. They just go 'he's it at it again' and pick up the slack they need to get THEIR things done.
Note they don't necessarily sort out my tasks, unless the task is critical. That's asking a bit much and is unfair on them.
Step 6 : Try to Alleviate the Symptoms
Use whatever mechanisms or medications you have that allow you to Focus, and to Get Things Done. Some of us are lucky and will be able to use meditation, or yoga, or relaxation techniques to acquire the necessary Focus and the ability to Get Things Done.
A lot of others, like me, will NOT be able to use such techniques – they simply don’t work and we will require medication. For example, it is necessary for me to take drugs that calm me enough so that I can Focus on the steps of a task I want to do and to concentrate to Get the Task Done.
Remember, the techniques for Focusing and Getting Things Done do not work instantaneously – you may find it takes hours or days or weeks to be able to Focus and to Get Things Done again. That’s normal – it is not a failure on your part.
Step 7 : This is a Disease, NOT a Character Flaw
Remember that no matter how you are feeling, Depression isn’t about your abilities, or your ability to cope with stress, or how good a person you are. Depression is not a flaw in your character, it is a medical disease problem that interferes with your ability to do things and it’s a real illness.
Step 8 : Try to Divert the Thoughts of Worthlessness
Yes, I do get the thoughts that I can't carry on, or that I am a failure, or that no one can possibly love me, or that I'm worthless and everything I touch will turn to dust.
But I've learned, slowly and with effort over the last decade, that I can monitor for those thoughts and that I can discard them when they happen.
There is nothing of that irritating think positive mindset in this, mind you. I still go through the pain and the feelings of worthlessness. What I can do though, is realise that such thoughts are merely the symptoms of a medical disease, and that they are therefore not "real".
And if they are not "real", then they can be discarded. So when I feel the pain, my overarching thought is "This is not real and I can ignore it. How I feel now will pass in time and the real me will emerge".
It's a lot harder to do that and have it succeed than you think. It takes practice, and trial, and failures. Just like anything else you are learning to do. Think weeks and months to get it working right. And you still have to live through the depression thoughts.
If you can use the steps above to figure out a solution to being able to Focus / Get Things Done, whether using medication like me, or meditation, or counseling, or running, or whatever works reliably for you, your life stabilises. And that’s where you want to get to.
Home > Depression
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