Doing what you love is a luxury. But not always in the way people think. When people talk about the luxury of doing what you love, it’s often in reference to time or money or some other privilege. But doing what you love is also a luxury of a stable mood and/or mental status. This past year has brought this to the forefront for me on many occasions.
Dealing with major depression this winter and into the spring and summer the things I love became laborious. The mental energy I spent just contemplating doing the things I usually enjoy, was so taxing I never made it out of bed to do them. I enjoy being active, doing my makeup, reading, blogging, and cooking, but my depression and erratic mood swings have made them feel more like chores than hobbies. I can’t always do the things I love because my brain won’t allow me too. I have plenty of time, usually have the money, and almost always have the access. What I don’t have is the motivation and energy.
This is one of the reasons I think fighting off depression is so hard. It takes things that you find comfort in and turns them into anxiety inducing work. When I want to go to the gym or do my makeup or even journal or blog, my negative thought processes kick into high gear. How much time will it take? You know you have to be at X place by Z time? What if you wake up late? What if you lose track of time? You know you’re injured, what if you hurt yourself even more? If you mess up you’ll have to start all over. If you go here after work you’re gonna be too tired to make dinner and will pick up fast food. If you make dinner beforehand it won’t taste as good reheated or you just won’t want it. It goes on and on like this until I just give up on attempting any of the activities I set forth on doing.
To some, these are no more than excuses. They show a lack of willpower or drive. It’s not though. It’s an uncontrollable, misdirection of my drive. My energy is directed into anxiety and negative thought patterns.It’s not an active choice or something I can easily pull myself out of.
Often times just getting through the day having to fake being an average person is so draining that once I get home, doing something I love or taking the time for self-care is to daunting a task to even attempt. Imagine being a salesperson for upwards of 10 hours a day, selling something you don’t believe in or even really like. Then coming home and finally getting to shed that salesperson persona. Do you think you will have the energy to do much of anything? This is what it is like for me day to day. I wake up and have to put on a whole new personality to get through work, running errands, and taking care of my personal affairs. It’s not that I’m a mean or antisocial person. It’s that interacting with the outside world is draining, especially if I’m depressed.
Doing what I love is a constant struggle because depression and anxiety don’t afford me the capacity to love what I used to. So when I do finally get to revel in doing what I love, I hold onto these moments because they are few and far between. If you have some of the same struggles I suggest documenting the good times as much as possible. Journal, take pictures, take videos, draw the scenery, anything that will help you hold onto the memory and look back on them when you’re too exhausted to actually do what you love.
Let me know your thoughts and what you love to do.