According to my therapist, describing life as “mundane” and finding it hard to “notice when I’m happy” and generally finding it hard to focus or find motivation or pleasure are all classic signs of depression.
And that anxiety caused by overthinking and trying to do things right all the time can spiral into depression – like when all the service lights come on in your car at once and the car has no choice but to stop.
It’s so hard to see these signs when they’re close up, happening to me. But, there they are, in my recent blog posts, in my journal, churning quite literally in my gut.
This is the first time my symptoms haven’t included a general feeling of being blue, or sad, or Eeyore-like morose.
So I struggled trying to push through, which leads to getting down on myself when that didn’t make me feel better. Like something’s wrong with me.
That’s the contradiction a lot of times: it’s important to keep on doing things that bring joy (according to my therapist), even if they don’t bring joy, even when it feels like going through the motions, because the alternative is worse. But that only really works if I can detach from judgment, not get down on myself for not feeling good on a run, or really “wanting” to write. Going for a run and being grateful just to be outside and moving. It becomes impossible to do those joyful things if I also have to do them well when I’m not feeling great.
This requires a change in my definition of “giving myself a break” in the name of self-care. Giving myself a break doesn’t mean don’t get off the couch, or changing plans, or shirking responsibility. It means giving myself a break from needing to meet any expectation as to how I do things.
There will be times I can knock it out of the park, times where I can give that extra energy to focus on quality. But not when it leads to anxiety or while I’m depressed.
And, in fact, sometimes just doing the thing in the first place leads to stellar results even if I’m not trying to strive for a specific output. Giving myself a break also means letting myself do what I’m good at and what I enjoy in the purest form, which often leads to the best results. That’s something I can get behind at any time, not just in these depressed phases.
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