Motivation Madness

…one of the unfortunate side-effects of depression is that it can cause you to react irrationally and hold viewpoints that directly oppose your character and understanding of life.

One thing I’ve found really difficult to maintain while stuck on my own in this lockdown is motivation. That elusive drive to do anything. Whether it’s getting out of bed, eating, exercising, cleaning your living space or even keeping yourself clean, any one of these things requires motivation to do.

I’ve had days when motivation slapped me in the face and I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to for that day. I’ve also had days when I didn’t get out of bed unless it was to use the bathroom or to make myself something to eat (even though I didn’t want to eat anything but understood that I need to eat to survive.) I’ve also had days when the motivation I experienced was somewhere in between the two extremes. On those days, I would merely do the bare minimum, such as eat three meals, do a bit of exercise and watch something on YouTube or Netflix that made me think and expand my mind.

“But Mr Bearded Man, we all have good days and bad days like that. It’s just the way life works” I hear you all saying. That’s very true and there’s nothing wrong with having that outlook on life. The issue I have is that it’s very often difficult to chalk up my lack of motivation to being the result of a “bad day”. Especially when my lack of motivation extends to span over several days in a row. When that happens, my natural reaction is to think that there is something inherently wrong with me. That I’m just a lazy bugger and am incapable of looking after myself. I start to feel like my life has no meaning and that there is no point in looking after myself, especially since every single day will be the same anyway: eat, sleep, repeat.

Now, I’ve been through a lot with my mental health and I know in my bones that such a nihilistic outlook really is not helpful. I understand this completely. Except, one of the unfortunate side-effects of depression is that it can cause you to react irrationally and hold viewpoints that directly oppose your character and understanding of life. I know full well that, when I do pull myself out of this depressive episode, I will look back on it and cringe at the fact that I was being so negative and so nihilistic. Oh, how easy it is to be reasonable when you have the benefit of hindsight, eh?

Right now, I’m not really cringing at myself, as that would more than likely cause me to fall down again and maintain my negative outlook. Instead, I’ve decided to take a conscious step towards giving my life meaning. Setting myself goals and achieving them. Building a routine and giving my life structure. This is going to be very difficult for me, as I’ve become so accustomed, during this period of isolation, to not doing anything. Before I fell into this really toxic pit of depression, it started with the seemingly harmless notion that I would just “take things as they come” and that I “didn’t need a routine because these are unprecedented times”. Boy, did that turn out to be catastrophic for my mental health. Well, no more. I’m going to push through, regardless of how tough it is for me. I will reach my goals and I will maintain a structure to my life, as I understand that not doing so will only result in pain and suffering.

The first step in my plan was to write this post. It will now serve as a promise that I’m making to myself and a reminder of why I am pushing myself. The next step is to start building a routine. Oh, and I’ll also make something really nice for dinner tonight, as a reward for taking that first step. After all, food really can change your mood almost instantly.

Love and Peace.

Quarantine and Chill

Quarantine and Chill 

 

I know a lot of people have been writing about this COVID-19 pandemic, mainly how selfish others have been in not adhering to social distancing policies and/or panic buying. I don’t want to do something that others are doing just for the sake of doing it.  

 

As you may know, this blog serves mainly myself, not an audience. I have been writing on this blog as a release for my thoughts and feelings… so that’s just what I’ll do yet again. Write about my thoughts and feelings during this “lockdown” and pandemic. There may be some advice thrown in from time to time; however, this will mainly be for myself so that I may be able to see it again when I read back over my entries. (With all that being said, I’m not going to discourage anybody from heeding or criticising my advice, from sharing my entries or from following my story.) 

 

Let’s start with the beginning of the pandemic in the UK. As you may remember, I started working in a pub and club just a few months ago. This has made a huge difference in my overall mental health, as it’s a job that I thoroughly enjoy doing. Well, that’s just sod’s law, ain’t it? To finally find a job that I love, only for a hugely contagious virus to come along and stop me from working. 

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Now, I’m not saying that I would be out working in a pub during this critical time, as I completely understand the seriousness of this pandemic and I’m adhering to social distancing as much as possible. I would not be somebody who is putting others at risk… but that doesn’t mean I can’t miss my job. I miss the pub, my colleagues, the regulars and the overall atmosphere in the place. We’re like a wee family in there and it’s been hard to stay away. I do hope that my colleagues are staying safe and that I’ll see them for a party when this is all over. 

 

Being unable to go to my place of work has been hard, not only for the reasons above but also because I’m not very good at self-isolation.  Before all of this, I would not have been able to stay in for longer than one night. I needed to be out, speaking to and interacting with people. Which is quite funny, considering I used to be a pretty heavy introvert. I suspect this is due, in no small part, to my depression and anxiety. When I’m alone, my anxiety has free reign over my thoughts and feelings and I’m not very good at distracting myself from this. This inability to distract myself usually leads me to the pub, where I know everybody and can be in good company. Out comes COVID-19: “NO CHANCE YOU’LL BE DOING THAT NOW, SUCKER!” Well, shit. 

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I’ve now been in self-isolation for 4 days. That’s 4 times as long as I’m used to being by myself… and guess what? I’m absolutely fine! I have really surprised myself with this, as I genuinely thought I would be climbing the walls, breaking quarantine and begging friends to see me. Could this be because I know that going out is not an option? Is it because I’ve come to terms with the idea of self-isolation for the good of others? Have I realised that it would be utterly selfish for me to even contemplate going out at a time like this? All of these things seem like they would have been a major factor; however, there is another thing that I didn’t consider until very recently. 

 

Working all the time and constantly feeling like I can’t be left alone with my thoughts leaves very little time for me to work on myself and my own wellbeing, both mental and physical. Without realising it, I’ve actually turned my focus towards myself; doing things around my home, taking care of myself, making sure I have proper food (not just quick and easy rubbish) etc, etc. This has calmed me during a time which would otherwise have left me anxiety-ridden. Sure, many would argue that I make excuses for not looking after myself, such as the ones at the beginning of this paragraph; however, those people may not know what it’s like to live with anxiety (they may even be people who have conquered severe anxiety and have forgotten what it’s like).  

 

The amazing thing about all of this is that I was convinced I would feel trapped by this quarantine. I was utterly sure that my anxiety and depression would have started a reign of terror by the second day. This hasn’t been the case. I actually feel free. I feel calm (or “chill”, if you will), collected and determined. This has been a beautiful realisation in my head, showing me that I’m stronger than I believed. Some things that I’ll definitely be taking away from all of this are these: do not underestimate yourself. Do not assume that you will fail. Have faith in your subconscious drive to survive and remember that you are a priority. Take care of yourself and other things will naturally follow.  

 

I’m having a couple of beers to wind down my night, knowing that today has been a productive day. I do hope that you’re all staying safe during this difficult time and hope we all come through this as stronger people. 

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Love and Peace.