Irony – a few weeks ago I was writing (or typing.. not sure where but I know I said it somewhere) about how there didn’t seem to be the usual tanking of my mood that tends to follow after Nanowrimo. I was.. emotionally fine, for the first 12 or so days of the month. I was also sick with a nasty cold-whatever-the-heck but that was only until the 7th or so. I didn’t start having the low mood until a few days ago and I thought it was just happening because my mood was strange while I was sick.
But nope. I’m still feeling that way and it’s making me incapable of doing a lot of things I wanted to do. So, here’s my post on what I’m doing about getting past it and my game-plan between now and January 1st, because it’s apparent I need one. Nothing wrong in that. I read more about seasonal affective disorder and seasonal depression shortly after Nanowrimo than any other time of the year, even though SAD affects us year ’round, it just hits harder during holidays – especially holidays that are centred around family and things we may not have.
One of the things I’ve been incapable of doing the last few days is work on the blog posts I’ve had in my drafts about working through things (mental, emotional, symptom-wise etc) that prevent one from writing or simply just functioning/focusing. Irony, right?
So here I am, sitting at my cafe at 4am, having been here awhile now, and the only thing I’ve accomplished is going through my collections journal (back when I started my bujo over in September 2018 I decided to keep my collections/trackers (like TV show/book trackers etc) in a separate notebook so it wouldn’t take up space in the tiny A6 I’m using for my bujo) and finally filling in the pages I had listed in the index. I designed the pages using inspiration from Pinterest using erasable pen and then went over all of it in black ink.
While I’m sitting here acting like oh that’s all that I did today – what a waste of time or otherwise devaluing/dismissing me doing one big thing today I’m also reminded of the fact that… I did it. I did something even though I didn’t want to do anything. I’ve zero artistic skill minus writing, and so it took me awhile to do a lot of the little minimalist drawings and such I had set up, as well as spending time calculating to make a few triangles – I’ve dyscalculia and believe me, trying to find out why my damn triangles are never even is a feat. I watched two YouTube videos on geometry and how to make an equilateral triangle – didn’t even know what “equilateral” meant until today. Go being terrible at maths.
I can hear my therapist’s voice right now, asking me to tell her again “how little I’ve done today” because… she’s right. I didn’t do nothing all day. Or whatever else my depressed mind wants to tell me. So far, since I’ve woken up I’ve done the following:
- got dressed and fed my cat
- walked to the cafe and had a hour-long conversation with someone I haven’t seen in awhile
- shared my table with a complete stranger so they could charge their phone (neither of us talked; it was awkward but I still didn’t have a panic attack over it)
- spent 2 hours designing and finishing pages in my Collections notebook
- spent 3 hours talking with a friend who had shown up to do some art and some reading
- started working on this blog post
So, there’s some things that I did. So much for my depressed brain telling me I did nothing all day. None of this is easy, now. If I was going to try and devalue the things I’ve done (something us depressed-folk are prone to doing) then it would sound something like this:
I got dressed because I had to come to the cafe to get work done and I wasn’t showing up in cat pj pants with a Marilyn Manson teeshirt; my cat needed to be fed; I talked to the person I haven’t seen in awhile to be polite; I shared my table/outlet because I don’t own it and it’s not mine to deny access to; did the “stupid art thing” in my “stupid Collections book” because I’m tired of seeing it unfinished and feeling like I’m wasting a notebook; only talked to my friend because I’d already texted him to ask if he wanted to come to the cafe before I realised my mood was tanking and it would’ve been rude to not talk to him; worked on the blog post because I needed to do something and not leave this place untouched for a month.
Man though – depressed me is fucking harsh. But you see how I went from the bullet-point list where I wasn’t devaluing the things I had done, and then how my depressed-brain speaks? One of the things I like to think about when I’m feeling this low is would I say this to my best friend? and the chances are, no I would not. So why am I saying it to myself?
Usually those two questions alone are grounds enough to stop me in my tracks and start working at what’s wrong. If I don’t know why my mood is so low, I consult my mood tracker/gratitude log. I’m painfully honest there (sorry to anyone who might’ve contributed to a bad mood that’s in there) because I refer to this notebook in therapy and it’s immensely helpful. I use a very simple system for my mood tracking:
Four icons rather than my previous of using six or seven mood types. It’s simple and makes me really think about how I’m feeling and why. I colour in the “Year in Pixels” graph to correspond with the mood (save for two days where I used the wrong colour ‘pink’ pen and it’s annoying me still):
After I do that, I then switch towards the front of my notebook and note my mood icon (or the emote used) plus why my mood is that way back on the monthly mood tracker (seen below):
So this helps me out because I can refer between the Year in Pixels chart and the page where my monthly mood tracker is – November is the page behind it, for example – and refer between the two as needed. They’re helpful in times like this so I can really see why my mood is a certain way, what the trigger was and if I can remedy it in the future.
In the case of today – I know why my mood is low, or at least, why it continued to tank the remainder of the night. I’m not sure why I woke up this way other than it’s the holidays and I always end up depressed around this time of the year. Rather than staying in bed like I wanted to, I forced myself to get up, taking my medication and go do something. It beat sitting around playing video games or watching Netflix all night, which wouldn’t have been productive at all. Not to say I shouldn’t allow myself some time where I just don’t do anything, but right now I know it wouldn’t have helped me any and wouldn’t have counted as any sort of self-care. I wouldn’t have enjoyed it.
Also – personal preference here – I would rather be feeling like shit but still being productive than feeling like shit and not doing anything about it. No, I didn’t improve my mood at all tonight but I still got things done and that’s better than nothing and in terms of my own personal goals, I got some stuff done that I needed to do.
Sometimes, you have have to do it. I know it’s not easy. Believe me, I know this. Whenever someone asks me how I “keep doing things when you’re anxious or feeling like trash” and it’s just… simple? You do it, or you don’t do it. There’s no in-between for me. I always at least try to do something. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up around narcs who gaslight and blame others for their problems while complaining about everything yet doing nothing to fix their situation, even going so far as to make excuses why suggestions aren’t going to work – even if they’ve never even tried it. It’s made me not want to be like them. That level of stubborn-ness is what’s keeping me from hiding away and doing nothing about my problems or my mood. I’ve never blamed anyone else for my issues, my mood, my anything – I’ve always taken accountability for my actions and self, even at my worse with BPD symptoms.
I can’t imagine being the types of people I’ve since cut out of my life. It seems exhausting. I’m already exhausted and annoyed with myself being depressed even though I know I can’t really help it. Which is yet another reason I’m still pushing myself to do things. I let myself unwind and enjoy some Netflix or gaming when I’m done my stuff for the day, and that’s served me far better mentally and emotionally than sitting in front of a screen all day doing nothing.
It’s now 5am, and I’m going to just go ahead and post this as it is, and then finish something up before heading home. My cat deserves some lap cuddles and I’ve more collectables to get in Red Dead Redemptions 2 (still haven’t gotten past chapter 2 of the main mission because collectables!!! but I did manage to tame the white Arabian horse the other day in just two tries while my night medication was kicking in, so there’s that!).
If you have any issues dealing with holiday/seasonal depression, feel free to share your tips in the comments.