Depression can affect your life in many negative ways. For many people, one result of depression is procrastination. Depression descends on your life like a choking spreading darkness that eliminates your ability to see the positive. When that happens, you stop caring about anything.
Your brain gets lost in the dark fog and every decision you have to make feels overwhelming. Should you brush your teeth before you shower or after. What should you eat for lunch? Should you take it or buy something while you are out? Which work email should you answer first? Everyone’s days are filled with decisions and normally we make those decisions easily. But depression takes that ability away.
A large part of the problem is that when your brain is overwhelmed with depression you have difficulty prioritizing. Your brain is already lost in the darkness and each question makes it retreat further. On a normal day, you know if you prefer a turkey or a ham sandwich. On a depressed day, you legitimately could not know. Your brain will try to access that information, but it is already so drained from everything else, it just cannot find it within your memories.
Pressure will just make this effect worse. If you are holding up a line in a store or you know that people at work are waiting for your input or reply, it will feel even harder for your mind to choose.
Put Off the Most Basic Simple Things
Your brain is so mushy when depressed that it will put off the most basic tasks. Your inbox will overflow because clicking delete on a spam email feels too hard. But then the next day there are ten more. By the end of the week, you have hundreds of unopened emails, you can’t find anything you need, and you feel like a total fuck-up.
Putting off basic tasks quickly snowballs. Miss a few days and you end up with overflowing garbage cans, stacked sinks, and packed inboxes.
Choose Easier Things to Distract Yourself
Many people with depression also suffer from anxiety. All this pressure from procrastinated decisions can easily trigger anxiety and then you are fighting two mental illnesses at once. And losing. It is no wonder that many times you will choose to do easier things to distract yourself. You open YouTube and watch funny cat videos. You scroll Facebook. You stare out the window and let your mind be blank. While they may make you feel better at that moment, it will only add to the detrimental effects that are piling up because these things are procrastination, too.
Because depression is a mental illness and because it is so overwhelming, there are limited choices for handling the procrastination. Of course, if you need medication or therapy and can afford it, you should reach out for help. Those are not options for everyone.
I can’t tell you to get up and do stuff any more than I can tell you to shake off the darkness and be happy. Depression does not work like that. There are a couple of suggestions that can help you keep some level of control so that there is not too much damage to fix once the darkness finally lifts again.
Have a Routine
Having a routine can help to eliminate some of your procrastination because it takes away the need to make choices. If every Tuesday you make a turkey sandwich for lunch, then you don’t need to stare into the fridge for an hour trying to decide what to eat. If every other Saturday afternoon you have a standing appointment for your dog to get bathed, you don’t have to make the decision to call or choose a time to go.
I said that I cannot tell you to get up and do stuff and I can’t. However, showing up is a huge part of the battle you are facing. I know that when depression is at its worst, trying to do basic things is overwhelming., but if you can dig down inside and show up for one tiny task, it becomes something you can build upon.
Maybe all you can manage is to put your plate in the dishwasher instead of leaving it on your nightstand. Good job. That is progress. Yeah, there are still dishes in the sink and no, you didn’t run the dishwasher. But you did not make the problem worse.
By taking that tiny step, you have begun to rebound. The cliché is that when you are already in a hole, stop digging. You did that. Be proud of yourself. Next time you have a choice, show up again.
Even if the steps are small, it is still progress.