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Has anyone noticed a difference in Depression when you force yourself to be overly very busy (and avoiding all internet/social media)? I am trying to "overschedule" myself with alot of tasks, outside appointments, intense physical activity to see if it helps. Although my energy level is often very low (I love sleep!) I find that the more down time & alone time I have, the worse I feel. I've always associated relaxing as self-care, but I'm finding that the more free open time I have, the more stuck I get in my ruminations, worry and negative thoughts.

If only I could keep up a high level of productivity without burning out or becoming exhausted! Unfortunately, this makes me want to take more coffee & stimulants to get through the chores :-(

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Personally when I was very depressed it was near impossible to be very busy with outside activities. I felt like I was trying to swim through thick molasses and just couldn't get anywhere. My pdoc would tell me to stay busy but it was like swimming upstream to try to do that. I could barely work and maintain a household let alone do extras. It was beyond difficult. So for me, not a good strategy. Sounded good in theory, but I couldn't do it. 

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We all do whatever we can to get through the day.

I did similar things for years. Kept super busy with work, packed my schedule and often double booking. I did very well, gained lots of visibility, had a huge network... anything to keep myself from having alone time with my thoughts and feelings. Then I started taking Adderall (with Rx). I was a race car that was always just on the verge of spinning out of control.

Then I crashed. 

Anyway, just a little cautionary tale based on my own experience.

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For me, it's all about balance. I need time around other people and then I need time alone. I  need daily exercise and I usually take a nap.  I need productive time and down time.  When I am depressed I have to force myself to do anything and being alone exacerbates my anxiety but I have a feeling that I need to have some time alone anyway. 

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I'm like @pocketpanda. I can distract myself by staying busy, but at some point I have to stop and then I crash. The longer I keep pushing, the harder and longer I crash. I've done this with grief, too. I'd bury myself in work to avoid thinking about it, but eventually I'd have to face it and it would all come out at once.

There is definitely a sweet spot for me where I do a mix of productive and relaxing things and that gives me the best result (though my best result is still depressed, unfortunately).

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On 8/28/2017 at 11:42 AM, sugarsugar said:

Personally when I was very depressed it was near impossible to be very busy with outside activities. I felt like I was trying to swim through thick molasses and just couldn't get anywhere. My pdoc would tell me to stay busy but it was like swimming upstream to try to do that. I could barely work and maintain a household let alone do extras. It was beyond difficult. So for me, not a good strategy. Sounded good in theory, but I couldn't do it. 

I was thinking this recently a lot.  It's not just like swimming through molasses, it's like the molasses is in your lungs, in your breath, in your stomach - that horrible depressed, empty feeling.

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I agree that there's a sweet spot. I am an introvert and find just being around people to be draining (even if it is also rewarding). I need alone time to recharge. But I definitely find that too much alone time and I get stuck in my head with the negative self-talk and it feeds the depression. Depression, however, really is like swimming through molasses.

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I find that (as in the past few weeks), when super busy I tend to run on adrenaline. I might be a little less depressed, although that void is filled with stress, but this weekend I crashed badly. This coming week I have nothing on the calendar, and I need that down time very badly. Maybe too much down time can be bad, but right now, desperately need it. Busyness not always good. 

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Super busy is an extremely relative term...by my standards, last week was really busy, meaning I was traveling all day Monday, and in meetings all day Wed/Thur, and out Sunday doing a hobby. This week I had a doctor's appointment Wednesday and then went out with a friend, and yesterday was another big meeting and my Autistic women's group. I did something Tuesday evening but I can't think what it was...And I've just spent a couple of hours on email for the meetings next week. 

And yes, I feel better than I have in a while, as if I've been dragged out of my head. But I acknowledge that there are times when I'm just plain absolutely not this functional, completely incapable of it, and at times like that, knowing that I'm missing being like this, being able to do this, is part of the agony of feeling that way. Feeling Incompetent and worthless adds to the self-hatred. So I have to account for that being part of my future when I have weeks this good. 

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I've lived with treatment-resistant depression for so long that it's pretty much a constant now, and I've never had the luxury (ha! luxury...:brooding:) of being able to not keep up a full-time job that pulls extra hours. I am, in fact, writing this at my office two hours after quitting time. What I have found is that for me, the busy has simply become a part of the gloom, added weight to the burden. If I'm carrying a ton of bricks on my back, the busy time is the time I have to carry the bricks whilst walking uphill. Sometimes, when hell is other people, it's uphill barefoot on a path paved with broken bottles. There have even been times, and this is literal, when I have been walking from one place to another and just stop, unable to move for the negative pressure on me. Sometimes I just stop breathing until my lungs win an argument with my brain over whether it's worth it to keep the chore going.

When the DSM-V says we lose interest in things previously found enjoyable - i.e., fall prey to anhedonia - it fails to express the cumulative nature of anhedonia over the long haul in severe cases. Eventually, nothing is enough reward for effort, and the only thing that keeps one going is philosophy, then faith, and finally, hope, while it lasts.

Fortunately, most people don't get sucked this far down the drain. Most people find relief from therapy, meds, or a combination thereof that manage the condition, and many times the condition remains in remission. Certainly, staying engaged, keeping relationships and communication open, and getting exercise (curse it and all its repetitions) are all established ways to stave off depressive thoughts. I'm just reporting from the bottom of the sea. Hallo-o-o-oo-o-oo--o--o---o----o...

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  • 3 weeks later...

I try to avoid absolutes in my thinking, but flooding my schedule never ends well. I have significant impairments in my basic cognition: poor ability to retain and synthesize information/concepts; poor short term memory in general; difficulty with proactive or critical thought. In a low-stress environment, when I'm alone and there are no other people or tasks competing for my attention, I do reasonably well, allowing for variations in my sleep and general physical wellness. If I can't do that, my ability to function degrades rapidly. That stress worsens symptoms, including psychosis. It's not worth it. 

However, I do have a list of tasks for everyday. I don't force myself to cross them all off each day. They're basic, even brainless tasks that I can do to keep myself busy and dwell less on the fearful things I might otherwise think. As a bonus, I don't forget to brush my teeth as often. 

Edit: 

I just realized this is a fairly old topic, sorry. 

Edited by Báleygr
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  • 2 weeks later...

Increasing my schedule has given me less time to think about and plan suicidal ideation.  However, it has opened up a huge can of worms for me.  So much anxiety!

My tdoc has shared with me this:

Increasing your schedule will inevitably increase your stress and anxiety.  However, it also increases the goal of achieving a more meaningful life.  We must ask ourselves whether or not we are willing to make the sacrifices to achieving that meaningful life.  You do this based upon what your personal values are. These will be different for everyone.  Then ask yourself whether or not you are serving your values when you are taking on said additional stressors.  It becomes clearer but also harder when we must choose one value over another.  What are you willing to sacrifice and for how long?  For example, I value my children first, but I am willing to make a temporary sacrifice to go back to school so I can get a stable career so that I can better fulfill my personal value of taking care of my children.

I hope this helps.

Edited by Teacup
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