Simple strategies to help you accomplish goals when depressed, such as getting going with something even when you feel you are lacking motivation.
Publisher: Penguin Books
From the Introduction:
There are 50 strategies in the book. I made sure each strategy is short. You don’t have to read this book all at once. Depression rarely allows us to do a big project, but we can do ONE thing. We can make one change and then move to the next item that we want to get done and believe me, this changes our brain chemistry and our outlook on life. It’s the way I survive this often grueling depression.
Here are my favorite strategies from the book that I use regularly- I’m interested to know the ones that work for you.
#1 Don’t Wait Until You Want to Do Something
#3 Wait Until You Finish Your Work to Judge It
#6 Be Your Own Drill Sergeant
#10 Think Like an Athlete
#14 Feel the Depression and Do It Anyway
#21 Don’t Worry About Something, Do Something
#44 Accept the Limitations Caused by Depression
#49 Create Creativity
Each of the 50 strategies is explained, a story is told and suggestions are made. I wrote this book when I was depressed. I use these strategies daily. They work. Here is an example:
Excerpt from Get it Done When You’re Depressed: 50 Strategies for Keeping Your Life on Track
#1 Don’t Wait Until You Want to Do Something
Many people equate depression with the inability to work. In reality, the problem is often the inability to feel like working. People who are depressed assume that their lack of motivation is a sign of weakness, and if they could just buck up a bit, they would be more productive.
But waiting until you feel like doing something is the single biggest mistake you can make when you’re depressed and need to get things done. Working when you think you can’t is one of the main difficulties you may face when you’re depressed, which is why you have to be ready to work no matter how you feel.
This Will Feel All Wrong
There’s a big difference between the great feeling of motivation that comes when you want to do a project and the lack of motivation you feel when you wake up feeling down with low energy. It’s natural that when you feel motivated, you can get things done more easily and feel a sense of accomplishment while you work. When you’re depressed you often lack motivation, so as much as you might want to feel the desire to work, it simply isn’t there.
But for some good news: when you simply get started with something you begin to feel more motivated and find it easier to do what you had to do. This can help end the pattern of continually searching for something that makes you feel more exciting instead of just moving forward with a project no matter how you feel.
Do you recognize any of the following signs that you need to work anyway?
You believe that lack of motivation is a sign you can’t work.
You’ve decided that there’s no use in starting if you don’t have the desire for a project.
You search for the feeling of want to get something done when you know the lack of motivation is a normal symptom of depression.
You wait so long to get a good feeling about what you need to do that you never even get started.
If you see your thoughts in any of these, you might be able to use this as your jumping off point to get started with something.
I’ve learned something in the past year. Depression never wants to do anything. Ever. I used to wonder why everything seemed so impossible. I saw other people get excited about their work and just assumed they were in the right profession and I wasn’t.
I’ve always loved to paint. When I got depressed in the past, I would quit painting entirely. There were no ideas and I had no desire to get started on anything. I was sure my work would never be as good simply because I didn’t enjoy it as much. I used to feel totally blank when I knew I had to create something. I missed a lot of years because of this. I think of all the wonderful art I could have now. It’s sad.
One day a friend asked me something interesting: “Alice, have you ever painted something when you were depressed?” “Yes,” I said. “And is the work as good as the work you do when you’re well?” I thought about it and realized that in terms of the work itself, I couldn’t tell the difference between my well work and my depressed work. Then she said, “The problem isn’t your ability to work; the problem is that you want to feel excited about the work before you start.”
She was totally right. Instead of focusing on the art and what it would look like when it was done, I focused on the upfront feeling that I couldn’t do something because I was lacking so much of the desire I usually felt. I now paint no matter how much I feel. I cry a lot while I’m painting sometimes, but that’s fine.
A Note from Julie A. Fast: I love working with Bp Magazine. They are understanding of my work issues and have always provided a space where a person with bipolar disorder can function and get things done. I wrote Get it Done When You’re Depressed to share what I use daily- and I do mean daily- in order to manage this illness. I started small. Getting out of bed. Tying my shoes. Going outside even when I was crying from the depression. I then moved on to being more able to work and support myself. I remember when I was so filled with depression that I could not speak in public or submit an article due to the voices I heard that said I was a failure and would always be a failure. I couldn’t decide what direction to go on a street! I was controlled by my bipolar disorder depression. This has all changed. I still have depression. I deal with it regularly, but by using the strategies in Get it Done When You’re Depressed, I know that I have a chance to have the life I want. You have this chance and if you love someone with bipolar disorder or unipolar depression, change is possible for your loved one as well. It takes small steps, but they are worth it.
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