Sometimes It’s Hard to Give Myself Credit

Depression sucks. (Duh).

One of the hardest symptoms to deal with (for me personally) is how incredibly critical I’ve become of myself. I’ve always held myself to reasonably high standards. But it’s like depression raises the bar, while simultaneously adding an extra 50lbs to my barbell. The goal is now so high and my perceived ability to succeed is so diminished that I find myself in a constant state of self-disappointment. In an effort to remedy this I’m attempting to give myself credit; to celebrate the small everyday victories and convince myself that I’m not a disappointment.

The problem with disappointment and perceived failure is that it creates a loop. Just about every time I sit down to start to work on something I think through all the times in the past where I messed up, or didn’t do, or outright failed to perform similar tasks. It makes it impossible to get things done – after all, I’m probably just going to perform as miserably as before, right?

The idea of focusing on small victories and giving myself credit for them goes back to an old Reddit thread: No More Zero Days. The idea is simple: Do Something Every Day. The Thing you do for the day can be small or it can be big.

Examples of small simple tasks to give yourself credit for:
– Getting out of bed
– Brushing your teeth/hair
– Doing laundry

Yeah, those are small, and pretty standard. But they’re still Things You’ve Done, and it’s important to give yourself credit for them. It creates an environment in which it is now incorrect to say “I haven’t done anything today.” … that phrase is, by the way, the introduction to our negative spiral described above.

The more I’ve focused on the little things I have done, instead of ruminating on things (large or small) I haven’t done, the easier it’s been to get more things done. The final result is that I’m not only happier, but more successful.

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”
-Oprah Winfrey

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.”
-Willie Nelson

There’s a Difference Between “Alone” and “Lonely”

I have clinical depression. I take good meds for it so I don’t normally show major symptoms. However, every now and then I still get what I call “the sads.” Basically I become more fatigued, more irritable, and more anxious. It’s a great combination.

Yesterday I woke up with a serious case of the sads. It was about 2pm (Paris time), and my roommate was on the way out the door for a shopping excursion with a few of our classmates.

I was alone. But I wasn’t just alone: I was lonely. I felt starved for intellectual and social interaction. I felt like I was undesirable and nobody would want to be with me anyway. I felt like I didn’t matter.

None of this is new, of course, as anyone else with depression and anxiety can tell you. But that doesn’t make the feelings any less significant.

So, feeling lonely and worthless, I did something unusual: I got up and left instead of moping around. I decided I was going to go do some shopping for things I needed, and screw the buddy system because “nobody wants to be with me/would miss me anyways”

It’s fortunate that exercise – like walking – does neat things to your brain; thanks endorphins! Similarly, chatting with friendly shopkeepers diminishes feelings of isolation, worthlessness, and social deprivation. I had a genuinely good time out shopping by myself, and even found a few of the things that were on my list!

I’m still not sure what brought on my sads, and I’m not entirely sure what cured them. I’m just glad they’re gone, and I got a good adventure out of the mix.