I’ve been unproductive for almost 2 weeks now. But I have not been “depressed”.
I have felt “blue”… I have spent countless hours watching the entire series of “Hey Arnold!”… I have found it difficult to concentrate… I have been procrastinating on important stuff like there’s no tomorrow… I’ve been unable to force myself to do anything…
But I’ve not been “depressed”. In fact, I’ve been relaxed. And, at times, even joyful.
What is going on?!?
As you know, I’ve a long history of depression.
And when I say long, I mean really long. I may have been depressed since I was 5 years old. (Now THAT is a long, long time.)
Ever since I found all this “hippie woo woo yoga Buddhist combo thing”, I’ve been working with my stuff like crazy. Moving out of my shell of depression, one painfully slow inch at a time.
And every time I have a “depression crisis”, it is slightly different than the one before. And I learn new things about myself. Which is the whole point of “working with your stuff” (I highly recommend signing up and getting my free mini e-book on “Working with your Stuff” if you wanna get started straight away).
This is what I’m noticing about my latest “depression crisis”:
- I made LOTS of room for feeling what I was feeling. This is our good old friend “allowing”.
“So I don’t feel like doing work? OK. No big deal. So I feel like watching ALL the episodes of “Hey Arnold!”? OK. Perhaps there’s some useful stuff in there (as it turned out, there’s LOTS of useful stuff ).”
- I didn’t judge myself for not “doing what I should be doing”. And if I judged myself, I caught my judgement and really noticed it.
I noticed when I was thinking “I am the most useless human entity that ever walked this Earth because I’m not “doing what I’m supposed to be doing”, because I’m not “working hard like everyone else”. Because I’m “wasting my life away””. Etc.
I noticed it all and I tried to bring in kindness and non-judgement. But I did it gently.
I made room for the part of me who thinks I’m a “low life” and for the part of me who wishes we could stop judging ourselves as “good” or “bad” depending on how much “work” we do.
This is the essence of giving legitimacy: letting go of “judgement”.
And now, time for some universal teachings on depression.
Here’s the truth about depression: what keeps you locked in depression is self-judgement.
I’ll say it again: what keeps you locked in depression is self-judgement.
Self-judgement looks like:
“I shouldn’t be depressed! I should be working, damn it! Why am I feeling like a dishrag? Nothing happened to me! How am I supposed to get on in life when I don’t do anything for weeks? I’m a waste of space”.
When we say to ourselves “I am the lowest form of life because here I am being lazy and not doing any work”, we are judging ourselves. You know, that expression “being the lowest form of life”? That’s a pretty mean thing to say. Which means it’s a judgement.
And when we judge ourselves we guarantee we will never move out of this emotional state. EVER.
Think of it this way. Depression is made up of a whole lot of “unpleasant things”; like sadness, pain, horribleness of all forms, numbness, etc. And around it there’s a big, solid layer of self-judgement.
If you chip away at the self-judgement, the horribleness that is depression can come and go. The sadness, the pain, the numbness… all of it will come, stay for a while, and then go.
Sometimes it will be there, and sometimes it won’t. You know, much like it is in every human life.
But what locks us inside the horribleness and guarantees we never get out is judging ourselves for feeling depressed.
So. After working with my stuff for YEARS. After learning the super hard way what helps with depression and what doesn’t, this is what I did during my “unproductive time”.
I let go of the self-judgement and allowed myself to be where I was. And that seemed to be resting in fantasy land.
I did not make myself into a “bad horrible thing” for being in this place. Perhaps I needed rest. Perhaps I was depleted. Perhaps I needed some of the qualities I could only find in rest and watching Hey Arnold!.
Who knows. It doesn’t matter. You will never know at the time of crisis why you’re in a crisis. You only learn that afterwards.
But the fastest way out depression is releasing the “self-judgement”. Is saying to ourselves, in a million different ways:
“It’s ok to feel miserable, it’s ok to be unproductive, it’s ok to feel like a “waste of space”. We are allowed to feel this, it’s normal”.
And once you’re out of the crisis, you can perhaps begin to think about ways to “meet your needs”.