Dear 100 Hour Board,
Have any of you struggled with depression that's bad enough that you don't want to do anything? How did you cope with it to keep going on a day-to-day basis?
Dear Sad Coffee,
I have definitely been there, friend. Heck, it's part of the reason I stopped answering any questions for multiple months. (Sorry about that, by the way. I'm trying to be back now.) I just couldn't make myself care about actually doing anything, much less anything that could actually help me take care of myself or give me a creative outlet. But, you know, depression ebbs and flows and all that. I'm feeling a bit better.
So, it depends on what you mean by "keep going on a day-to-day basis". If you mean continuing to be productive in the same way you were when you were happy and motivated, I'm not sure if I can help. The only thing that helped me was medication, trying again and again to get the right combo. And even now that I have a good combo, I have good productive days, sad crying days, and sleepy fatigue days.
If you're asking how to say alive when you just want to fall into a coma, I have a bit more expertise. I know this is kind of a cliché that people with depression use, but it's really true. There's no bad reason to stay alive. Even the stupidest, smallest, most insignificant reason you can think of to keep existing is a good reason. Maybe you want to listen to your favorite song again? If it'll keep you alive for the next three minutes, do it. Maybe you want to take a shower with your clothes on? Do it! In the words of John Darnielle, "Do every stupid thing that makes you feel alive. Do every stupid thing to drive the dark away."
Reach out for connection when you have energy to do so. Live as near to people who love you as you possibly can. Ask someone you trust to help research low cost mental healthcare in your area. Keep holding on. If you want someone to talk to, my Board email address is quixotic.kid(at)theboard.byu.edu.
Sorry. I've been there. That period of time during my freshman year was far and away the worst thing I've ever experienced.
One of the most effective techniques that I did learn was to put in three minutes of effort. When I woke up in the morning, sometimes I would promise myself that I would get up and put in three minutes of effort toward getting ready for the day. After those three minutes, I could reevaluate and either choose to continue getting ready or to go back to bed. It didn't always work, but it was something. Some days, I even made it to most of my classes.
Since then, I've gotten therapy at CAPS and gotten medicine from a doctor, both of which have been helpful for me. I've also learned that on bad days, it helps me to text my friends and email my professors and boss and just tell them that I'm not feeling well. Generally, I'll tell my friends that it's a depression day, but I'll keep it more general when talking to professors, and just let them know that I'm feeling ill (the exact nature of my illness is none of their business, and I've never had anyone ask me about it anyway). I find that treating bad depression days just like I would any other bad illness helps me feel a little more responsible and a little more validated. It also helps by keeping everyone informed, and it motivates people to check in with me after a while to see how I'm feeling.
Unfortunately, I have experienced this. For me, it lasted about a month, and it was terrible. I went to work and spent the rest of the time trying to sleep. At first I tried to force myself to do things, watching TV or reading or going to a park, but nothing held my interest or made me feel any less empty inside.
The only thing that kept me going was the fact that I still cared about people. I didn't have the energy to do much more than text people, but reminding people I cared about them or just checking in on my friends was the best way I found to cope.
My other suggestion would be to try new things, if and when you can find the motivation. I didn't really start to feel better until I met new people who made life feel exciting again. Trying, when possible, to disrupt monotony also helped me find a sense of feeling again.