Even though I've suffered from clinical depression ever since I was 15 years old, my depressive episodes have a lot more at stake as I’ve gotten older, especially since I’m dependent on my own productivity in order to survive.
I'd like to give my two cents on how you can keep up with everyday life when you're feeling like you don’t want to get out of bed.
1. Sometimes, You Can Only Do The Bare Minimum . . . And That’s OK.
I’m a perfectionist and tend to air on the side of overachievement, so not taking on new projects, extra writing assignments, or feminist activist endeavors can be challenging. But sometimes I can only do the bare minimum, and that’s OK. You need to put your mental health first, and that often means turning things down. If you’re like me and want to do it all, I understand how hard it can be to say no, but your sanity should always come before anything else.
2. Create A Routine For Yourself.
Sometimes it is necessary to have days of doing nothing but staying in bed and taking care of you. However, most of us have stuff we need to do. I’ve found that the best way to combat the compulsion to stay in bed is to simply set a daily routine for myself. I have a set way of doing things from the second I wake up, and therefore I don’t have to think about how I’m going to tackle my day. Think of it like meal prepping: you do the planning before in order to save yourself time and energy when you’re going to be short of it. Setting this routine can help you to create structure in your life when you need it the most.
3. Talk To Someone.
If depression is getting in the way of your day-to-day life, it’s crucial that you talk to someone, preferably a professional counselor or therapist. Tell them about your struggles and create some safety plans that you can use when you’re facing a crisis. You also might need to go on some form of medication or see a professional routinely in order to help to manage your depression, and there is no shame in doing either. I see my therapist every week, and I know how helpful it is to work with someone who can help me consistently to stay on track.
4. Take One Step At A Time.
When you’re depressed, even the smallest of things can seem so monumental and impossible to even attempt. For example, if I’m having a depressive episode and need to write an article, it can seem like such an incredibly difficult task, so much so that I may end up procrastinating or abandoning it altogether. You can help to ease this anxiety by breaking up your tasks into small, manageable pieces that don’t seem as intimidating. Dividing the tasks can make something big seem a lot smaller.
No matter what, remember that it’s OK to take time for self-care. Putting your own needs in front of productivity is a good thing and will only aid you in being more productive in the long run.