When I am depressed, I strip out all the extraneous things that I don’t *have* to do on any given day. There are a few things that I force myself to do every day, including my work and writing. I brush my teeth (and floss!) three times a day, and that’s the extent of what I force myself to do every day. I go grocery shopping every few days, and I go to taiji twice a week. Oh, and I do the dishes after I eat instead of letting them pile up for weeks. It’s a little change, but it made me feel much better. If I have energy and am not sick, I might go out to do something else, but that doesn’t happen very often.
I do the laundry when I would be running around outside in underwear otherwise (which would be today), and everything else is done on an absolutely needs to be done basis. I take a shower every few days when I remember it, and even that is a big production. I think it’s difficult for people who have not been depressed to understand how enervating it can be. I’ve heard people talking about someone, describing that person in a way that made it immediately clear to me that the person probably suffered from depression. Then, they would talk about how lazy the person was, and it would make me really uncomfortable.
Let me give you a small example. For taiji, I have to keep my nails short. That’s my preference, anyway, but it’s a good idea, especially when there’s hand-to-hand contact. Cutting one’s nails isn’t a big deal. It takes maybe five minutes, and a few swipes of an emery board after is all you need to do. When I first notice my nails need cutting, I simply think, “Huh. I should cut my nails.” Then I ignore it for a week or two as my nails continue to grow. The next time I pay attention to them, I think, “I really need to cut my nails.” I feel embarrassed and ashamed, but I still don’t do anything about them. Then, because I have shitty nails, they begin cracking and breaking. I also get hangnails which I chew and pick at, and I’ll chew on my nails to rip off the jagged edges. That doesn’t help, of course, but it doesn’t stop my brain from thinking it’s a good solution to the nail-cutting problem.
When it’s all said and done, it takes me about a month before I actually summon up the energy to cut my nails. I know rationally that it’ll only take me five minutes and then I can free up my mental energy for something else. Instead, I delay it and stew about it until I absolutely have no other choice than to cut my nails. Looking from the outside, you could fairly call me lazy for not cutting my nails for a month. It’s not laziness, however, and it’s doesn’t help anything to have someone tell me I’m lazy. Believe me, I tell myself that often enough. I know if I wasn’t depressed, I would get so much more done. It’s not helpful, either, because it just makes me less motivated to do anything.