Words can’t fail me here. Words can be used to express, relate, and understand. Words are empowering. This is an opportunity. Sorry if there’s any weird formatting issues. I don’t know how all of you are doing currently. To anyone who would click or read this, perhaps you were curious or you’re searching for something – hello, nice to meet you!

What Depression Looks Like

       When I think about how we have expressed what depression is, I envision a person with a dark rainy cloud above them and following them wherever they go. I remember art others have created where their mental health diagnosis is a separate entity, not a part of who they are, but rather a lingering monster… turned into a benign pet they don’t want who lives with them nonetheless.

Photo Credit: A screen shot from the following YouTube video, “In Between – Animation Short Film 2012 – GOBELINS.” To watch it, click here.

How do you think about your depression? How do you acknowledge its presence? How do you choose what you what to do or need to do?

My Experience

       I find the attitude difference within myself astounding. To everything, I am dragging my feet. I am unwilling and exhausted. It takes me twice as long to do something. I’ve got to find a compelling reason to force myself to try to do the thing. Often, I am unable to.

       Yesterday, it was taking a shower. I couldn’t think of a reason. Now, of course, there are plenty. I take showers to keep myself clean, to get rid of greasy hair, to wash my face, to get to the enjoy the hot water, and feel refreshed. I am thankful for clean water, having access to it and being able to afford it.

       Today, it has been homework. I don’t want to go to class (virtually). I have gotten two assignments done in three hours (which is not great time). I am listening to music and drinking hot chocolate and I am sitting at the desk. I am trying. Yet, it is all taking longer. I know I want my homework to be over and I want to get it done. But, there’s something about the way depression and anxiety worm their way into my heart and mind; they affect my whole spirit.

I think we all have to find small ways to take back the power and reclaim moments of our lives as our own. Not ruled by whatever diagnosis is impeding our lives.

The Importance of Mindset

How we’re thinking about things, our perspective, impacts a lot. Our attitude, our resolve, our effort we put in, how we decide to behave, how we understand the situation in front of us, how we speak to others – all of those things are shaped from our perspective. Often, I don’t realize what thoughts are impacting me. I just notice symptoms. I notice me having a hard time.

My Negative Thoughts

       So, I’m going to take a moment and identify the thoughts that are impacting my perspective on completing my schoolwork.

–  “I don’t like doing homework at home.” I usually do it in the library or at a coffee shop. I would have been out and about. After waking up on time, seeing my coworkers or classmates, and having lunch, I would be ready to do work.

“This homework is difficult. I’m not a good student; I’m stupid.  I don’t feel like doing it.” Whenever I start to get confused or behind on work, I subsequently feel ashamed. I fight those feeling by talking to my instructor or my classmates, asking questions, reading my textbooks, and watching instructional YouTube videos. I buckle down. I remind myself, “I am here to learn. If I already knew this, then I wouldn’t be in this class.”

– “I feel so exhausted after watching my instructor in Zoom meetings. I don’t want to watch it now. I’ll just watch the recording later.” I haven’t had this problem before. But, I know my anxiety makes me want to hide away. I should probably go to class – it helps me stay accountable.

My Positive Thoughts     

       It’s good to work on something. I am glad to have assignments that remind me of the expectations my instructors have. I am thankful that I have regular class time where I can sign in and see my other classmates who expect to see my name too – we are in this together. Although it feels difficult and it’s taking time, the work I am doing is worth it. I am getting to learn new things. I have some sense of a normal life, despite the circumstances. I want to prevail. If I need to take a 5 minute dancing break to enjoy a song, then that’s okay. I can promise myself video games and a good walk outside. I can stretch. I can do things to help myself get buckle down.

       Scrolling and reading and trying to escape aren’t what I want to do. Avoidance is such an easy temptation that lures with the promise of being free from whatever is causing distress – but it a fleeting temporary mirage. It’s trying to not feel anxious. It is flapping around in quicksand and sinking deeper. It’s believing that I am doing something to help myself, when I’m really not.

       I have an online test to do, a discussion post, and two late assignments to turn in (I am sorry instructor!). I can do this! Before, I was doing all of my college assignments while working my two jobs and volunteering. I would’ve welcomed a break and social distancing… not this quarantine. I know we’re all trying to make the best of a bad circumstance.

We can do this! Whatever you’re struggling with, I hope you take a moment to speak some words of encouragement to yourself and reset your mindset. Thanks!

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