I’ve always had a hard time putting the symptoms of my depression into words in a way that I can share, and quantify in some way, how my depression affects my day-to-day. During my latest wave of depression, I noticed my work was going much slower, and that I was spending more time working than normal. So I put myself to the test, and did some numbers and observations.
I’m typing at half-speed when I’m depressed.
My typing speed, on a normal day, is about 65 words per minute. That’s about 400 characters, or around 7 characters each second. While depressed recently, I took an online test to check my speed. I was horrified to find that I was typing only about 35 words per minute, or about 3.5 characters per second.
My body can’t work as long.
This problem has several fronts to address. First, I can’t look at my computer screen as long as normal, because my eyes get worn out sooner. If I sit too long, my energy drops into “rest” mode, so I have to get up and move around. During my normal, I can work for up to four hours without breaks. During my recent work stints, I’ve noticed I start to lose focus after about 45 minutes. I have to get up, move around, and blink a few times. Finally, I have to take more bathroom breaks. This might seem silly, but I have chronic Colitis, which means my intestines are always inflamed. Always. Bathroom trips (especially 6-8 a day) are not my idea of “productive time.”
I am hungrier when I’m depressed.
I eat 30-40% more when I’m depressed. During my normal, I maintain weight. When I’m depressed, I gain weight. It takes a lot to lost weight, because I get sooooo hungry. I don’t want to eat my emotions, I just want to feel satisfied. See below for more on that.
Feeling satisfied is a Sisyphean task, and happiness just isn’t happening.
I reward myself for small successes, like finishing an assignment early. I celebrate by “feeding my soul”. “Feeding my soul” is a combo of things that make me feel happier, or special. This is usually video games, or egg-nog. Now, each time I feed my soul, the void grows when it empties out. I struggle to fill it. I pour more-and-more happiness into this growing pit, feeling less-and-less “fed” each time. I take breaks, get distracted, spend longer stretches of time playing games between work sessions, and drinking huge tumblers full of egg-nog. My work day gets longer, and I still get sadder.
It takes more “fun” to feel like I’ve had fun.
I am a lot more anxious.
I second guess everything, especially myself. I withdraw. It’s like my depression is this Dementor inside my brain, sucking the happiness out of me, lurking in the hope that it will get my soul, which makes me anxious. Mostly this manifests in me not putting out ads for work, because I’m sure I’ll be turned down. Thankfully, my work comes from multiple places, so I can trust work to come my way, even when I’m not chasing work down. This is intentional, I set my work up so it keeps going, even if I’m depressed.
I drink about 4x more tea.
Caffeine and sugar give me some relief. Some of my medications make me sleepier, and low-grade stimulants help. I drink glass after glass of sweetened strong Earl Grey. It’s a short-term solution, that leaves me to pay for it later. I end up taking a few naps, or skip my early-morning “fun-time” (which means Facebook and Skyrim), in order to sleep in an extra half-hour.
Basically, everything slows down. My vision suffers, and my empathy takes a hit. I find it harder to understand other people’s emotions. I get a little more selfish, not because I want to take it out on others, but because I have fewer spoons to work with, and fewer to share. I have to save my spoons to get my work done, and what little bit I have left I spend on Jenny and the kids, because nothing is more important than them.
I am coming out of a funk. At least, it feels that way today. But I’m still slower than normal. It took over an hour to write this, for example. It’s not (just) that I have a hard time typing, it’s that my words take longer to stick together. I have to read everything an extra time or two, just to make sure I’m making sense. If, for any reason, you aren’t understanding this, blame the fog. It’s clearing up, but it’s still there, for now.
Here’s hoping for a clear day.