Just Doing Things
When you have depression on one shoulder and anxiety on the other.
After being diagnosed with anxiety and depression, I started trying to work out what exactly was making things more difficult than they used to be. At first, I thought that it had a lot to do with feeling like I was constantly trudging through a field of sludgy mud, on a foggy day with little idea where the edge of the field was. I still think this has a lot to do with it. More recently, I realised that there’s something else that plays quite a big role, at least for me. I don’t seem to be able to just get up and do things anymore. Instead my brain mulls over the things I have to do, it can feel like just a few minutes to me but when I check the clock, I’ll find I’ve lost hours at a time.
Psyching yourself up to do EVERYTHING
While I’m mulling things over, I often find myself trying to think about what it is that I need to do and how exactly to go about it. I’m not talking about the complex things here, I’m talking about having a wash, getting dressed, feeding the dog, for example. It’s like I’ve completely lost the ability to just get up in the morning and know what it is that I’ve got to do without consciously going over it. I have a routine, but my autopilot seems to have been disabled. On a particularly bad day I might find myself standing in front of something wondering what I’m doing there and not really remembering what I’ve already done from my routine. I’ll go to do another job, only to realise that I can’t because I needed to do the thing I was on my way to do, except that when I go to do it again, I can’t remember what I’m on my way to do…
Therefore, I end up running over and over what it is that I need to do and how to do it, putting a system in place. So that if I do find myself blocked, I can run through my list and hopefully get back on track.
It’s exhausting psyching myself up to do a load of tasks and holding in my brain exactly how I’m going to do it all. Sometimes, I have to wait until I have enough energy to follow through; so while I’m mulling things over, I’m also calculating how long it will take me to get it all done before I can have a break from all the thinking that goes into planning and doing.
What do you mean, ‘you can’t’?
When I can’t get up and do a task, it’s like being blocked; my body feels limp and unresponsive as if the message to get up and go isn’t getting through to my muscles. Another barrier is a barrage of thoughts paralysing me, which I have to push away before I can move. Things like, ‘what’s the point?’ ‘it’s later than you meant to get up, so why bother?’ and ‘you never get anything done, so why try?’ It can be difficult trying to quieten those thoughts enough to be able to have room to think about what it is that I need to get done—even the simplest of tasks.
It’s frustrating; I didn’t always need to calculate how much energy a task would take, spend so much time silencing negative self-talk, or think through the exact process of a task before doing it. However, these days if I don’t have a plan of attack I’ll likely end up staring at whatever it is I’m supposed to do, start to feel exhausted to the point of not being able to stay awake/stand then go back to bed/the sofa to rest and think about how to tackle it. It’s like my brain just can’t handle thinking through how to do something and keep my body functioning at the same time.
What can time do?
Things aren’t as bad as they were. Sometimes I can pep talk myself into getting up and doing a few really simple tasks to get me going. Once I start to feel like I’ve accomplished something, doing becomes easier and silencing the voice telling me I’m useless also becomes easier. I think back to my childhood years when my alarm went off and I got straight up and on with my day with envy, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to do that again. I guess we’ll see what a little more time can do.