Experiment 16 Jul 12 (Day 2)

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16 Jul 2012

Weight: 175 lbs (the 2lb decrease is just water loss because I'm more active, but still nice)

Drugs: None today. 1 double espresso from 5.30 am to 3 pm. 1 espresso at 8.30 pm.

Productivity: High.

Moods: Slightly manic in the morning to normal by about 3 pm for rest of day.

4.40 am

Wake up.

It took me a while to crawl out of bed when the 4.30 am alarm sounded. I must admit that I crawled back into bed after letting the dogs out into the yard, but then I thought "this is silly" and got up. The fact that I can think that means I am no longer depressed. I happen to like 4.30 am because I'm a morning person and because that's not a particularly abnormal time in my country - adjust your wake time to suit yourself.

4.40 am to 5.30 am

Put on dog walking clothes, washed dishes, read my daily schedule and pictured in my mind how I thought the day will go. More cleaning and neatening up.

Because everything is in disarray. Brushed my teeth today before 9 am - yay! By the way, there were days last week when I neither brushed my teeth or bathed for 2-3 days because it was too difficult to do so - that's more like what depression is, not "sadness".

Two noteworthy things here - (1) I use washing the dishes as an indicator of how capable I am - if I can't get my act together to wash dishes, then it's likely going to be a bad day. You will probably find it helpful to have a few "indicator" tasks like that on a morning to allow you to gauge your mood. Making the bed, preparing lunch, sweeping the kitchen, or any simple routine task will give you an idea of your ability to do things and your concentration. Your coordination while doing them will also give you an idea how manic your are. (2) Having a daily schedule and being able to picture it in your mind is critical - if you don't have that, you are likely to spend the day doing somewhat random things, some of which might be useful. I rank this as high on the things to do on a morning - think about it while going for your walk and if you didn't write it the night before, write it as soon as you get back from your walk.

I should have gotten out of the house and gone for walk before doing all the little tasks, but at 5 am it's pitch black outside. Can't walk dogs until it is light. This is just a quirk on my morning routine - I recommend you go for the walk immediately after pulling on clothes and stuff on your feet.

5.30 am to 7.00 am

Walk dogs.

You don't have to spend so much time on your walk. I just do it because I'm me. A 15-30 minute get out the house should be fine. One of the benefits is that I really like being in the park and seeing all it's changing moods. Don't forget to think about what you want to do for the day while enjoying the scenery.

7.00 am to 9.00 am

More neatening up around the house. Went shopping because there was no laundry detergent and other household items.

It's incredible how much things fall apart when you're depressed. Kept to my rule about not getting on the computer. More stuff packed away. Pumped up tyres on bicycle. Now to figure out when to use it. Changed.

9.00 am to 11.00 am

Did some office work.

The two hour idea appears to be a good one. Having a clear deadline a short two hours away forced me to focus on the project and not fiddle around. Though I did go on facebook for about 5-10 min total. Project not done, but then I didn't expect it to be. This was a proof of concept and it is a good start.

11.30 pm to 12.30 pm

Scrounged lunch from Mum.

I'm passing by my parents daily because I did it regularly in the past. Need to restart doing this, and passing by them allows them to know I am doing okay. And I get food.

12.30 pm to 3.00 pm

Paid bills, made bank deposits, sorted out credit card, went pharmacy.

This should have been time spent doing office work, but I need to get these things sorted out. A useful rule - one of the first things to do coming out of depression is to (a) pay outstanding utility, loan, and credit card bills (b) deposit any cheques you got and (c) find out your bank balances. I'd schedule a day to do this, and I need to automate payment of more of my bills.

3.00 pm to 4.00 pm

Got home. Started writing blog post.

I got on the computer to early - did not do enough other things first! However, I did pack away all the stuff I purchased first, and I needed to get on the computer to update my records on all the bank / bill stuff. So slapped myself on the wrist, but - I do need to make sure this does not happen often or I'll slide right back into my old habit of sitting at the computer for 5 hours. The price of stability is eternal vigilance - stick to the rules!

Also, notice how long it takes to write a blog post. And I ain't done yet.

4.00 pm to 6.00 pm

Walked dogs. Fed dogs.

At least the dogs got me out of the house and doing something else. The littlest can use her nose to give a mean jab in the ribs when she figures I'm not doing what's right by her.

6.00 am to 8.00 pm

Out for a beer and reconnecting with friends.

Meeting friends and reconnecting. This is part of getting back into the process of having a balanced life just as much as doing office work is.

8.00 pm to 10.00 pm

Passed by brother

It looks as if I am doing a lot of visiting people. That's because in the early stages of getting out of depression you do need to connect with people and just say 'hi, I'm around again'. Getting back into doing 'work' type things takes a bit longer.

I've actually divided my life into about six areas which are, in no particular order - (a) Dogs, (b) Exercise / Health, (c) Social / People, (d) Office Work, (e) Website, (f) House / Garden. When I'm coming out of depression, I try to restart each area one by one because jumping into all at once is too overwhelming.

Generally, I tend to restart areas in the following order (1) Dogs, because they are underfoot, so it's easy; (2) House, including accounts, because it's there and I need to get the place back in order. But I don't restart big projects yet; (3) People, because I need to reach out to parents, siblings, partners, close family, and close friends. The wider meeting people doesn't start yet; (4) Website, sometimes. This time it's high priority for me; (5) Office Work, again to get back in it a bit. But I'm not doing a lot in office stuff yet; (6) Health, mostly diet, because I always need to lose weight after a depression episode. (7) Exercise, but attempting regularly scheduled exercise is hard to organise immediately coming out of depression; and (8) Garden, I currently have something that's not quite a jungle.

The important thing is to not try to do too much at once. You'll want to, to catch back up, but all you will really do is overwhelm yourself with tasks and then feel guilty that you are failing again when you don't do them. This has been a bad depression run - I'm expecting that it will take closer to three months to get everything back in decent order.

10.00 pm to 12.30 pm

Home. A bit of housework, petted dogs, planned tomorrow, wrote blog. Sleep at 12.30 am.

I'm spending way too much time with the dogs. I did spend the time planning tasks for tomorrow - a critical thing. Writing the blog take quite a while.