Chasing Your Dreams When You Have Depression

Hi, there! I’m still alive and this blog is definitely still running, despite my lack of activity lately. I know I’ve promised all these big plans and awesome articles for the future.

Unfortunately, my depression doesn’t really give a damn about those.

If you’ve read my article, Mental Health 101: Anxiety, Mindfulness, and “I am more”, you know that I suffer from anxiety. However, this isn’t the only mental illness that I have to live with.

I’ve been battling depression on-and-off since I was 11 years old. I’m not going to go into the specifics and the root of my depression; those are between me and the therapists that I’ve seen over the years. Suffice to say that I’m kind of a pro when it comes to living life with a chronic mental illness.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t have hopes and dreams and the drive to achieve them. It just means that sometimes, I simply don’t have the energy to follow through. I love what I do, but depression doesn’t care about what I enjoy. Instead, it drains me to the point that it’s all I can do to string a coherent thought together, let alone write an entire blog post or formulate my social media strategy for the upcoming month.

Quite frankly, it sucks. I’m an overachiever and I thrive on having a project (or two, three, or five). So, when my depression hits and I’m left staring at a checklist with nothing crossed off, I get upset. And that only makes the depression worse.

Depression isn’t like a broken bone; you don’t have a set time-table for recovery and then get to walk away, knowing that you won’t be affected by that injury ever again. It’s a battle that you will be fighting for the rest of your life. You can control how it affects you, to a point, but it’s always going to be there.

So, how do you chase your dreams when you’ve got this invisible illness constantly draining all your energy and telling you that you’re not good enough?

There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. But for me, there are a few things that I can turn to when things get tough.

My planner

Having a place where I can write down my tasks helps me focus on the future and put things in perspective. I just have to make sure not to overload myself, and schedule time for things like self-care.

Music

The right playlist can help you focus, lift you up, or give you that little push you need to cry. Purposely making yourself cry might sound like a bad idea, especially for someone who has depression, but there’s something incredibly cleansing about having a good cry. Just make sure that when you listen to that sad playlist, you’re in a safe space.

Time

Sometimes, you just can’t do what needs to be done today. That’s perfectly alright. It’s important to let your body and mind have enough time to recover, so that when you do go back to that checklist, you actually have the energy to complete it. You have to make yourself do at least one task a day, though, so you don’t fall into a major depressive episode. And yes, going to work, cooking dinner, and doing laundry all count as “tasks.”

Goals

Along with my planner, having a list of goals–preferably handwritten, because there’s nothing quite like crossing a goal off your list–helps me the most when I’m going through a depressive episode. Not only does it make me feel accomplished, but seeing my goals written down reminds me of why I’m fighting this battle in the first place. I’ve got a lot of things I want do in my life and my career. I just need to be reminded of them, sometimes.

If you’ve reached the end of this post, I want to say, “Thank you.” I hope it hasn’t come across as some sort of “pity me” article; that was never my intention.

Instead, I hope that if you have depression, you’ve been reminded that your illness doesn’t have to keep you from following your dreams. Even if it feels like it some days.

Do you have depression? Has it affected your career? If you don’t mind sharing, I would like to hear your story.

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