Depression is ruining my life.

When struggling with depression it can be a real struggle to start anything. Including those things that could absolutely help the situation. You have to be patient with this, as motivation is one of those things that has to come internally. To balance that, any barriers you can remove to get momentum could be a big help. If you want them to get into photography, buy them the camera, or a photography book. Or you could try painting something together, by hitting up the arts store, grabbing some basic paint and canvases, then turn on a "let's paint" YouTube session. Given you have children, don't be afraid to just pack the kiddos up for a long drive and give your partner some alone time at home.

The other phrase I use often is "change you physical state to change your mental state". Get out on a family walk or a hike, or if it's too cold out, get some yoga in at home. Lastly, try little things like picking up the house and keeping clean. It's amazing how a little tidying and organization can lighten the mood in a house. Next time you're at the grocery store, swing by their little flower section and buy a bouquet to put out when you get home. Just because.

Final piece of advice that comes direct from my therapist: have your partner make a happy list. I have often complained about my mental "list" that I keep of all the things that I have to do, and it sounds like your partner may be similiar. That list is oppressive, and I often just feel overwhelmed by the whole thing. My therapist asked me to sit down and write another list of all the things that I can do to make me happy. On those days where I'm feeling most down, or overwhelmed or anxious, I whip out that happy list and do something that brings me joy. It's great because a lot of the time when I'm that down, I can't think of something happy on my own. And when my partner tries to offer alternatives directly, I often turn them down or get upset because they're not coming from me. By having your partner make their own list, they take some ownership of their own happiness. Then, instead of it being your job to come up with alternatives, it becomes your job only to remind her of them of their own happy list, and you can just enable them to do something on it.

Best of luck, and remember, sometimes just listening to them and being there for them is more powerful than you realize. Keep it up, and we're all here for you!

ThatGuy42 wrote:

It's great because a lot of the time when I'm that down, I can't think of something happy on my own. And when my partner tries to offer alternatives directly, I often turn them down or get upset because they're not coming from me. By having your partner make their own list, they take some ownership of their own happiness.

This right here is absolutely true and it’s an incredibly important point to make.

I would strongly suggest she starts talk therapy - sounds to me (i.e. not a therapist) like there's a lot of fodder there that could benefit from therapy.

RawkGWJ wrote:

I have a couple of suggestions.

It sounds like your partner has exhausted most of the obvious behavioral options. Perhaps it’s time to consider medication therapies. Finding the right combination of meds can be absolutely life changing. Just keep in mind that depression meds are not “happy pills.” They’re more like “normal pills.” Depression meds help to put a person who suffers from depression into a more psychologically-normative state of mind.

The other thing I would suggest for your partner is journaling. Journaling doesn’t need to be anything specific. It can be short or long or anywhere in between. It can be as simple as listing the pros and cons of something like taking on a photography project, which might have the effect of cutting through the general malaise of depression and help your partner see the value in an activity like that.

Writing short fiction as a means of journaling can also be helpful. Really, the sky’s the limit in regards to what to journal about. The simple act of putting words to paper can really help to gain clarity about one’s own feelings and priorities.

I wish peace and happiness to you and your partner. Good luck. Happy new year!

Thanks for the tips. I've been on antidepressants for years and she's tried them before, so we're familiar generally. I think she would take them again; it's just a matter of (a) making that choice and then (b) getting the right prescription.

And I've mentioned journaling multiple times but she's not in a place compatible with how she journals. I think it could still help but she currently mostly chronicles events and feelings to dump them, rather than to work through them much. I'll probably keep suggesting variations on that if it seems like it could help.

Thank you!

ThatGuy42 wrote:

And when my partner tries to offer alternatives directly, I often turn them down or get upset because they're not coming from me. By having your partner make their own list, they take some ownership of their own happiness. Then, instead of it being your job to come up with alternatives, it becomes your job only to remind her of them of their own happy list, and you can just enable them to do something on it.

This is a really excellent piece of advice. Thank you!

Jonman wrote:

I would strongly suggest she starts talk therapy - sounds to me (i.e. not a therapist) like there's a lot of fodder there that could benefit from therapy.

Yeah, I came across an ad for a virtual therapy network on one of my podcasts and shared it with her. I am going to start looking at our insurance in-network resources and get as much of the leg work done as possible to make it easy for her (and for me) to start talk therapy. Neither of us is resistant to talk or medicinal therapy, which is super helpful.

Thanks for the tip!

Well, I'm back in my funk. For the last three days I've felt that down, dark cloud hanging over me. I dread getting up in the morning and facing the day. I'm struggling not to snap at my family and co-workers. I'm going to sleep early just to end the day because when I'm awake in the evenings I feel so down and helpless.

I know that I've been here before, and that the only solution is to be patient and take little steps to improve my situation. I also know that I'm likely suffering from some withdrawals as I have made a commitment to stop my excessive marijuana usage. When I stopped drinking, my pot intake went up exponentially, going from only using on the weekends to using every day. My "resolution" this year is to go back to only using on weekends, if at all.

I'm also pretty frustrated with my new therapist. We've had one appointment, and we just didn't "click". In the past, I would have called and made an unscheduled appointment with my old therapist to talk to them about what I'm going through right now. But with this new doc, I'm not at that point where I'm comfortable reaching out. I know what I should do is reach out anyway, but I'm having a hard time taking that step.

The only positive thing I can say is that I have continued to get out of the house for exercise. I walked for an hour yesterday, and I hope to be able to do at least the same today. That walk around my neighborhood yesterday was somehow the happiest time of my day. I just "zoned out". I didn't think about my list of what is hanging over me, or about how my kids have been treating me, or really anything. It was so nice to just let that all go and just "be" while I walked.

I know this is a long, rambling post, but I kind of needed to get it out there. For myself, just admitting where I'm at and acknowledging I'm having issues is a big help. Thanks for listening.

I went through a few therapists before I found someone that clicked with me. It is a process, which sucks, because it's the kind of process we're not necessarily best-equipped to undertake.

I had a real positive swing a few weeks ago, but I'm back in my depression spiral today. I know, objectively, that we had a good weekend. Stuff got done. Things were accomplished. But I'm feeling no joy about it. I feel overwhelmed by all the things that have not been done. I feel angry and frustrated with my job. I feel like a failure as a parent. I just feel this morning that I'm drowning in sadness, and I'm having a lot of difficulty in the "re-framing" exercise that I know will help me. I need to find a way to convince my stupid brain that I don't need to be in this funk. That things are actually OK.

Next action item: I'm going to look to get another appointment with the new therapist on the books. I know that talking to someone will really help me, and since my old therapist is no longer available, I need to build a bridge with the new one and get help.

Thanks, for listening everyone. I know it really helps me to continue to post these struggles that I'm facing, and I encourage each of you to do the same. We're all in this together, and sometimes it really helps knowing we're not alone.

ThatGuy42 wrote:

Thanks, for listening everyone.

That's why we're here.

On a personal note, lost the whole weekend to depression while trying to even get out of bed. Minimal tasks completed (feeding animals and the like). Been rough since Thursday night when I just had a Bad Night (tm).

My wife is doing her best to try and understand it, as she's dealt with some accident-related depression years ago. She asks a lot of questions, which is good, but sometimes, I just can't. I know she's looking for answers and potential reasons, but there just aren't any. It sucks to have a brain that is just at war with itself.

I couldn’t get through it without the medication.
I’m lucky that we seem to have found somethings that work for me and I have a therapist who is an excellent fit.

I’m good more often that not, I think.
And I survived 2020!

(Hugs) to those who could use them!

I wanted to share an update on my struggles and progress, 6 months after my initial big post here. Thank you all for listening and being supportive then, and now.

I started working with a therapist last July after being ground to a halt by anxiety, depression, and I didn't know what else.

I continued working with him through the year. I eventually got a prescription for sertaline (generic zoloft). The dosage is quite low, and together with therapy I was able to get a better handle on my anxiety. Certainly not overcome or conquered, but enough to start functioning.

I was still struggling greatly at work however, particularly with emails, which grew into a huge backlog. I largely ignored them, and developed significant anxiety about it, which became a self-reinforcing cycle.

My therapist referred me to a psychologist who specializes in ADHD. I did an evaluation for ADHD, but more importantly the psychologist immediately started working to help me develop executive functioning skills. It was obvious I had never developed strong tools that (many? most?) people do to handle the flood of information, appointments, bills, reminders, emails, and regular mail that we are all inundated with.

Instead I'd found workarounds, or simply ignored or avoided many problems. Not coincidentally the pandemic disrupted or destroyed many of the workarounds I relied on.

I struggled a lot through the first few couple of months, and it was really hard to see what, if any, progress I was making. But he'd given me reference materials and workbooks which were simple and concise and anticipated and discussed the challenges I was likely to face. Although I was (and am still) struggling, it was clear to me that working with this psychologist was a path to identify and begin to address some of those skills that I didn't develop easily or naturally.

Importantly, my psychologist was able to guide me during sessions and give me a simple map/ blueprint/ tasks to practice on my own. This is really important, as I didn't have basic tools e.g. to manage my own calendar and task list, and I didn't really know where to start. Co-workers have helped at times, but they probably wondered why I kept running into the same wall, and it's embarrassing to go back and ask for help repeatedly for something that seems remedial and that other people don't appear to struggle with. But I could ask questions about basic concepts to my psychologist without fear of judgment or embarrassment. I could even ask them repeatedly, even though we'd discussed it the weeks before.

I certainly did not have the skills to design a time management system from scratch and teach myself how to use it. I've learned that developing a system from scratch is not one of my strengths. But on the flip side, I tend to thrive in a structured system, and I'm quite good at following directions- if they are clear enough. The plan was already developed, I just had to follow it. Straightforward, but not easy.

Regular check ins also keep me accountable, even though I frequently don't report "success" with the tools I am learning.

I got a diagnosis of ADHD in December of 2020. I never suspected that ADHD described me, as no one had ever mentioned or hinted it to me before my therapist did last year. I score very high for distractibility, but quite low on hyperactivity. My concept of ADHD growing up was of a caricature of hyperactivity, which has never described me. I suspect that stereotype is shared by many, along with a popular skepticism that ADHD was over-diagnosed and over-medicated in the 1990s (when I was a teenager).

I also got a diagnosis of mild depression. I recently started on extended release Adderall. Therapy in conjunction with medication seems to be making a noticeable difference.

It has not all been smooth and full of success. Far from it. I continue to struggle with keeping on top of my work emails, and I still have a huge backlog to go through. I think there is a decent likelihood that I will be fired in the coming months, which would be a first for me. But I also know that my current job is not a good fit for a variety of reasons, chiefly that the subject does not really keep me engaged, and I need an office with more structure to thrive.

I'm just now starting to disentangle my longstanding self criticism as a lazy procrastinator who lacks a "strong work ethic." I have still lost days and half days getting sucked into various rabbit holes. But I have done a lot of lot of groundwork to build some foundational skills.

The core concepts are surprisingly simple, although simple does not mean easy. I'm happy to write them out and share them here, as it helps me to articulate them. I hope some of this is helpful to others with similar struggles. I'm no expert, in fact I'm a novice but here goes.

Spoiler:

Actively managing a Calendar and a To Do list, that contains ALL appointments and tasks.
This provides one central place where I can look and get a handle on all my tasks. It can be daunting. Before I would regularly experience frustration over having e.g. 7 different inboxes to check. By the time I got done checking I would be exhausted and not know which task to prioritize.

Using both the calendar and to do list every day.
Finding tools that integrate them both was a noticeable improvement for me.
I dropped my first to do list for after more than a month for one that integrates with my calendar.

Learning how to prioritize tasks, especially when the volume is overwhelming. I am still in the early stages here.

Learning how to separate tasks into different lists, without creating dozens of lists that spread everything out. (Which has the effect of re-creating my earlier 7 inboxes problem.)
At my psychologist's suggestion I use Urgent / This Week / Long Term, with separate lists for work tasks vs personal tasks.
I created a separate list for recurring tasks that occur daily or weekly, so they show up as tasks but don't clutter up other lists.

Practicing Mindfulness daily through meditation. I've been curious about, and flirted with meditation in the past, but had never tried it in earnest. This is typically 5-10 minutes per day for me, which is manageable.

Learning the importance of blocking out time, both daily and weekly to update my tasks and reassess priorities.
(This is important for me. It is not time spent doing the tasks themselves - it is time I need to spend assessing, planning, and prioritizing. I suspect this takes me longer than it would most people.)

Setting manageable goals and keeping progress updated. (I had heard this for many years but never understood how.)
It turns out this is tied to my struggles with prioritization.
This is chiefly done by breaking tasks into subtasks. I was aware of this concept but I don't think I had ever consciously tried breaking a task down into smaller subtasks.

Marking tasks off when they are done. (Satisfying!)

Having a plan for what I want to accomplish each day/week/long term. This especially helps when I finish a task. I am prone to get distracted transitioning from one task to the next. This is especially true when I finish a task and have a daunting list of tasks without clear criteria to pick which to handle next. When faced with this situation I would frequently opt to distract/avoid as I didn't know how to prioritize. I am learning that I need to prioritize in advance, without time pressure, so that I'm not having to make a snap decision in the moment. When I make decisions about prioritization in advance I'm acting intentionally, not reactively. I have a much easier time executing a plan designed beforehand, not making it up on the fly. But again, I need to give myself time and space to do this planning.

Learning to act intentionally. I can see how this will help to not act reactively.

Learning that inaction is a choice. If it doesn't help me reach a goal, I can start to question whether it's a helpful choice. But first I have to recognize it as such.

Reflecting back on what has worked, and what has not, to refine and continue to improve my process and understanding.

Thanks again for listening and reading.
I'm not out of the woods but I've got some tools to help me get my bearings and navigate.

I'm in the same boat, or similar - ADHD, OCD, low dose Sertraline. It's a lifesaver. I was not diagnosed until I was... 42? If you can imagine that. I think I'd be dead now without the diagnosis. I had the good luck to have supportive people around me when I needed them. And I realize now I was very lucky to be able to take a Franklin Covey course; it gave me the structure I needed for my days, weeks, months at work. And it taught me to say "no" to things that don't meet the bar, or would overload me, and triage my tasks to know what I should say yes to. They even have free online courses. And my work paid for the course and reimbursed me for the planners. After a decade or so of that, I don't need the planner itself anymore, I just use the principles on my own.

Congrats on moving forward! If you ever want to commiserate, or just talk, drop me a pm and we'll chat.

Thank you Robear. I will add you to my list of ADHD resources, which is something I consolidated just last week. It was good practice for centralizing and orgazing useful information.

I'm 38 and just got the diagnosis. I excelled academically through high school and didn't have problems focusing in school - because I usually felt engaged. But I fell flat on my face in undergrad and never had an explanation for why that seemed accurate.

I never learned what good study habits were, and I didn't need them early on. By the time I needed them, I didn't even realize what I was lacking, or how to go about getting help.

I'm also fortunate to have supportive people in my life. It doesn't feel like many, and certainly in 2020 it felt like many of those supports were battered. But it only took a few to make a huge difference.

I have no idea what a Franklin Covey course is. Would you mind providing a brief rundown?

Zwickle, sure sounds like you fell into the "lack of structure" hole that is college. Definitely a problem for folks with ADHD as it's easy to spiral out of control and fail out or drop out.

ADHD without high in hyperactivity is pretty much the hallmark reason why females are rarely diagnosed with ADHD. Males too, obviously, but I'm making this statement because my wife wasn't diagnosed until after our eldest son was diagnosed and we realized that she totally fit the bill.

All those years of "I'm stupid at math" or "why can't I get anything done unless it's an emergency?" really adds up. Coming into awareness that you aren't a failure at oh so many things and instead have this challenging brain situation was a godsend for her self esteem.

I highly recommend considering ADHD meds (stimulant or not) on top of the Setraline, but that's up to you all.

HUGE SIMPLE HELP POINT WITH ADHD:

If someone reminds you that you're doing something wrong and it's ADHD-related, like overreacting to a comment or talking out of turn in a conversation, instead of saying "sorry" you can say "thanks for the reminder". It's a HUGE help to both the person with ADHD and the person doing the reminding.

That's a very powerful tool with kids, especially (since they need more reminders than most adults with ADHD). It'll keep them from feeling beat down all the time.

So, I want to just leave this here, because I think it's important.

Bill Harris at Dubious Quality wrote:

Not asking for help when you need it isn't selfless, and it's not protecting the people around you.

It's just another way to punish yourself.

It's your mind tricking you into thinking you don't deserve help because you failed in some way.

Man, that is such a trap.

His full post is here. It's really his reaction to this amazing read about the SF Giants player who lived through his suicide attempt. Trigger warnings for depression and self-harm here if you do want to click through and read the whole story, but I felt that what Drew Robinson has to say and his new outlook on life are remarkable.

Sounds like I got an even later start, as I am 47 and was only formally diagnosed with ADHD and depression, just last year.

I have been going to a therapist, since last fall, and this past December they prescribed me Bupropion XL (generic Wellbutrin) and I do see a change in my mood to the positive, so I will take this as win so far.

I think the thing that bothers me, is that my parents didn't attempt to take me in for testing as I grew up, and I only decided to do so as an adult at the behest of my wife. I should have done this years ago, since my oldest was diagnosed with ADHD as a child (around 15 years ago) and I saw many symptoms in myself and just wrote them off as something that I could keep a handle on.

Moral of the story, don't put off until tomorrow, what you really should do today.

Thanks again for the insight. I just recently started on Adderall extended release. It seems to be helping quite a bit.

I will start using "thanks for the reminder" right away with my older kid. She frequently gets down on herself when we correct her, even when we've made a really conscious effort to do so gently.

Zwickle wrote:

Thanks again for the insight. I just recently started on Adderall extended release. It seems to be helping quite a bit.

I will start using "thanks for the reminder" right away with my older kid. She frequently gets down on herself when we correct her, even when we've made a really conscious effort to do so gently.

There is no gentle with ADHD folks, overreaction is a part of it all.

cartoonin wrote:

Sounds like I got an even later start, as I am 47 and was only formally diagnosed with ADHD and depression, just last year.

I have been going to a therapist, since last fall, and this past December they prescribed me Bupropion XL (generic Wellbutrin) and I do see a change in my mood to the positive, so I will take this as win so far.

I think the thing that bothers me, is that my parents didn't attempt to take me in for testing as I grew up, and I only decided to do so as an adult at the behest of my wife. I should have done this years ago, since my oldest was diagnosed with ADHD as a child (around 15 years ago) and I saw many symptoms in myself and just wrote them off as something that I could keep a handle on.

Moral of the story, don't put off until tomorrow, what you really should do today.

Undiagnosed is so hard. My wife was actually diagnosed when she was a teen but her parents didn't believe the doc and never took her back. They were okay with her having issues, but apparently adhd seemed wrong and stupid. Another example of "girls don't have adhd"...

Anyway, it's never too late. Any of this. Earlier is better generally, but sometimes you've gotta live a little, mature a little or gain a lil knowledge before you can approach getting help.

Keep on keeping on, folks.

Yep, undiagnosed is difficult, nonbelievers are difficult. Especially when they are parents, family, friends.

Totally get that, on the non-believer front. It's the primary reason that I haven't told my folks about me going to a therapist and my diagnosis, et al. Even if they do believe me at this point, it's a moot point, as there really isn't anything else they can do or contribute.

The only people that know are my wife and my GWJ family, which is enough for me.

I was alcohol free for 6 months before I told my parents what I was going through. They had no idea just how bad my depression was, and how miserable I was. I fought hard for years to put on a brave face. To pretend that I was OK while inside I was falling apart.

I am so thankful for this community. So thankful for having a place that helps all of us talk about what we're going through. But perhaps most importantly, I am thankful that we can be there for each other and to lean on each other for support.

When I went into therapy the first time my mom freaked out and said the doctor was "implanting memories" that weren't true. So yeah, often times you're on your own and support from people who have no immediate stake are some of the best supporters. That's why we go to therapists and not to our parents or significant others. They don't have the distance nor clinical expertise to be terribly helpful. Best case for most of us is that they support us going to therapy, NA, AA, whatever we need.

An old friend if mine told me depression and mental illness was for people who wanted attention.

That hurt.

MaxShrek wrote:

An old friend if mine told me depression and mental illness was for people who wanted attention.

That hurt.

They was so close too. Swap "wanted" for "needed" and they'd have been spot-on.

Jonman wrote:
MaxShrek wrote:

An old friend if mine told me depression and mental illness was for people who wanted attention.

That hurt.

They was so close too. Swap "wanted" for "needed" and they'd have been spot-on.

They were far from understanding. The closeness was coincidental.

MaxShrek wrote:

An old friend if mine told me depression and mental illness was for people who wanted attention.

That hurt.

Not just ignorant, but judgmental and nasty. I'm very sorry to hear that. And having it come from someone close is the worst.

There is a YouTube channel hosted by a woman with ADHD called How to ADHD. You might as well start with her earliest video and watch them in order. In the early ones she explains about the less hyperactive presentations of ADHD. My ADHD presented in the less hyperactive form as well. For the most part anyway.

I’m also a late in life diagnosee of ADHD. I’m 50 now, and got the diagnosis around age 43. It’s something I’ve had my entire life, just like the depression. I can’t help but wonder how different my life would have been if I had been properly diagnosed as a teenager and given some tools to help compensate.

I’m on sertraline (Zoloft) for depression, bupropion (Wellbutrin) for combo ADHD and depression. I should really get back on Adderall. It helps me.

Unfortunately I have stigmatized the use of Adderall in my own head. I’m not sure exactly why I’m cool with taking the other two, but not Adderall. I haven’t had any negative side effects. I think I feel guilty for taking it because it makes me feel good, and it’s essentially a party drug when abused by people who don’t need it. Ugh. I need to get my head straight and get back on the Adderall. I need to make my peace with it.

RawkGWJ wrote:

There is a YouTube channel hosted by a woman with ADHD called How to ADHD. You might as well start with her earliest video and watch them in order. In the early ones she explains about the less hyperactive presentations of ADHD. My ADHD presented in the less hyperactive form as well. For the most part anyway.

I’m also a late in life diagnosee of ADHD.

The book Driven to Distraction is worth checking out as well, especially for folks who got a diagnosis late in life or if you think you might have ADHD but have never been diagnosed.

TheHarpoMarxist wrote:
RawkGWJ wrote:

There is a YouTube channel hosted by a woman with ADHD called How to ADHD. You might as well start with her earliest video and watch them in order. In the early ones she explains about the less hyperactive presentations of ADHD. My ADHD presented in the less hyperactive form as well. For the most part anyway.

I’m also a late in life diagnosee of ADHD.

The book Driven to Distraction is worth checking out as well, especially for folks who got a diagnosis late in life or if you think you might have ADHD but have never been diagnosed.

Thanks, put that on hold at the library.