I’ve been having a lot of trouble lately. Writing has been dragging for me of late, and it appears to me to be getting worse, not better as I attempt to push through the detritus. Instinct wants to call it procrastination, or distraction, but I am finding that it isn’t the case. It’s something a little more insidious than that.
About two weeks ago, I decided to enhance the monitoring of my screen usage on my phone, installing a program called “Moments” to couple up with the one that the device has internally. I figured that it would show me that I was spending far too much time on my phone. What it showed me is that on average, I spend less than 1 hour a day, with much of that time spent on things like: listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos (such as Ted Talks or intellectual discussions), using apps such as the calculator, or emailing for work. I spend a small fraction actually doing anything on social media, which anecdotally felt to me like a huge drain on my time. In truth, I should be spending more time on social media, or more constructive time on it, to build up my skills in marketing my work.
Then if it isn’t my phone or social media, then what is it?
Gaming or watching TV were both out, as I had been spending little to no time on either of those activities.
I figured out that for some time, I haven’t been staying mindful of my emotions (or my activities), letting myself slide into what can best be described as a funk. Instead of pursuing my dream of writing, I was moping around, exhausted for much of the time. But before I understood what was going on, I wanted to blame my procrastination. After all, I wanted to work on stuff, I just didn’t feel like doing it right then. Tomorrow would be better right?
At the root of the problem though was that I was suffering from a bout of depression. Like my aforementioned issues with anxiety, depression for me has been a constant companion in my life. I don’t talk about it. I don’t write about it. Why should I? It’s only a passing feeling right? It’s something I can snap out of with the right mindset, right?
As it turns out: not exactly.
In truth, my depression isn’t as severe as one would expect. I can maneuver through my interactions keeping others at bay from really understanding what is going on. Unfortunately, though, all this effort leaves me beleaguered by the end of the day. When I am in these funks, that is.
For some time now, I’ve been coming home, making some interactions with my family, and then zoning out on a chair, on the couch, or even on the floor as I sprawl out attempting to nap. Things don’t get done.
For years and years I’ve thought that I was just a standard procrastinator. Now, I am rethinking that. See, depression is an energy-fuck. It’s a siphon of motivation. It’s like your brain wading into a tar pit. You put things off until later not because you want to, or that you have something better to do in the meantime. No, you put things off, because you have no mental energy to do it.
In some ways, I’ve been able to push it back with things like positive thinking, a topic I wrote about in my last blog. And it really does help. Yet, it’s not foolproof. In fact, it might even be that I simply lack the skills to properly assert it. Who knows? (Maybe a psychologist…) Over time now, my positivity lost out to this latest episode.
In it though, in the spirit of staying positive, it has given me a few ideas of topics to explore, such as this idea of the link between procrastination and anxiety, and the possibility that the latter is having more of an influence on the former than I would have supposed.
It also gives me time to reflect, to take notes on what I am feeling, so that maybe in the future I will know what the signs are leading up to the point where I fall into these pits in order to avoid them.
For now, it’s a slow climb back up. Given the weather, the high demand of work lately, my stagnant (almost non-existent) writing career, and the many many outside factors influencing my life now, it might be some time before I can say that I am out of it. In the meantime, I will keep trying to turn my thoughts toward the positive while focusing on the skills needed to better combat this in the future.