Note: This is a repost from a tumblr blog I ran with a friend called Blue Sky Self Help. I’ve basically moved on from tumblr now, but I want to move some of my better posts over here, and given I’ve been having depression issues this week I thought this would be a good first repost. The original post can be found here.
One of the problems I find with depression and other illnesses is working out when I am having a bad mental health day and when I am simply being lazy. To make matters worse, during a bad mental health day it is easy to convince yourself that you are being lazy when in fact you are being ill.
I try to overcome this using a system of levels. I try to classify activities as being on a scale between 0 and 4.
Level 0 activities are your default activities, the ones you can do regardless of your current state. Obviously staying in bed is one, but for me they include playing Overwatch badly and watching Midsomer Murders.
Level 1 activities are ones you can easily normally bring yourself to do. These include both things you are motivated to do because you like them and things you know you really need to do. Often simple food, like frozen pizzas fall into this.
Level 2 activities that on a healthy day, you can do without any real problems. For me this includes my PhD work and writing things like this.
Level 3 activities would normally be difficult to do, so for me it would be doing particularly hard maths for my course or making a phone call I really don’t want to do.
Level 4 activities are the kind that wipe you out completely after doing them.
Try and categorise your activities on a good day, and be honest about where you put them, so you know that on a bad day you can trust your categories.
The way I use this system is that if I can manage level 0 activities and maybe some level 1 activities, usually the ones I NEED to do such as basic food, then I am having a bad day, and the question then becomes “what can I do to recover?”. If I can do level 1 activities easily, and I can do level 2s but I just don’t want to, then I am probably just being lazy.
As usual, if this system doesn’t work for you for whatever reason, don’t use it, but I hope it can be useful for at least someone.