How I get things done with depression/anxiety.

I am in that temper that if I were under water I would scarcely kick to come to the top.

~John Keats

That is what depression is for me at its worst.  Its apathy of the greatest and most destructive sort and when its manageable its a fight to gain enough traction to move.

When its manageable, I have to set up systems or I won’t win.  These are methods, tricks, processes I use to get myself to do the simple everyday tasks that you do without much thought.

The best systems are habits.  For example, my morning routine includes things that are habit.  I clean the kitty litter every morning before I leave for work.  I take out the trash when I leave the apartment.  They just happen without much thought.  And once the habit is there, it has to be a very bad day indeed to stop the habit.

But some things are just not tasks you can turn into a habit.  For example, I’m not going to vacuum my house daily.

So I set up a list of tasks that I will do.  The items on the list are not huge.  It does not say for example:  Clean the Bathroom.   It says clean the sink.  Clean the toilet.  Sweep the floor.  Mop the floor.  Clean the tub.

Then I set up a timer.  The timer is set for 45 minutes or an hour.  When it goes off I do a task for 5 minutes or until its done, whichever is first.  Then I reset the timer.  If I don’t finish the task, it has to be finished when the timer goes off next.

When I do that all day, I get a clean apartment, clean clothing, etc.

The thing is that nothing on the list is overwhelming.  And nothing on the list takes more than 5 minutes in normal circumstances.

Another thing I do is time how long it takes me to do onerous tasks.  Cleaning kitty litter used to be a bugaboo of mine.  I used to put huge blocks in my mind around it.  So one day I timed how long it took.  45 seconds.  It stopped being onerous when I realized it took less than a minute of my life.  Sometimes my brain creates disproportional views of things – and taking a simple step like timing it creates an objective ruler to break into my misconception.

I want to create more habits.  Routines that get done daily.  However starting and sustaining a routine for long enough to become a habit is hard.  My attempts have been failures so far.

Depression is not a static thing.  It changes daily and even hourly.  Its on a continuum.  Sometimes I just don’t move.  Stillness.  I can’t even get out of bed to go to work.  I’m nonfunctional.  There is no hope at all to exercise willpower.  Its not even in my list of options.

Sometimes I’m functional.  And if I pull out the mental whip and beat myself with it I can get some basic things done like going to work.  Its a weird terribly unhealthy way to get myself to move.

Sometimes I functional and hopeful.  And in those days I work with systems and goals..

Today I’m functional and hopeful.  Today is a good day.

4 thoughts on “How I get things done with depression/anxiety.

  1. You just said what I try to tell people. I never know when the time is coming that I’m going to be in bed the next three days. It changes hour by hour. You are absolutely right about that. Best wishes on “our” journey to get through the dark days.

    Liked by 2 people

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