I was diagnosed with dysthymia (also known as persistent depressive disorder) around five or six years ago. This disorder is characterized by a low mood occurring for at least two years along with two other symptoms of depression. In general I’ve found I have fairly bad fatigue, I can never get enough sleep, concentration doesn’t come easy to me, and I’ve been known to be indecisive from time to time. I’ve also found that I tend fight with feelings of hopelessness or not being incredibly interested in things as well as irritability that can cause working in the professional challenging from time to time. Today I’m feeling especially unmotivated to write anything so I figured it’d be a perfect time to write about my mental disorder!
Being Tired All The Time Sucks
Saying it out loud like this probably doesn’t surprise anyone. However in day to day life I think it can be easy to forget about this. I set a fairly ambitious goal to write one article every day in December. One thing I forgot about when setting this goal is that there are some days where all I can do is the bare minimum to skate by because I’m physically exhausted. Today unfortunately ended up being one of those days so this article too will be the bare minimum for me to check of “wrote an article today” on my internal todo list.
I think this impact has become even greater as my scope of responsibility has increased. When I was just responsible for myself at work it wasn’t a big deal if I was having an off day. At this point I’m juggling two projects while having others look to me for insight into our product, Android best practices, how to do something in Kotlin, and other things. When I’m fighting back fatigue it’s no longer impacting just me but it’s impact others that depend on me. To sum it up, being tired sucks, and I think it causes a feedback loop that makes me more depressed.
Lack Of Motivation In The Professional Life Sucks
I assume this will hold true for all professional settings, however I’m a software engineer by trade so my personal story will draw from those experiences. There always seems to be something new coming out that I should be reading about or learning. There are times where I do feel incredibly motivated and I can catch up on a lot. The majority of the time though is spent fighting this feeling of dread and why can’t I just be sleeping instead , so pulling it together can take a lot of energy.
I’ve found I’m motivated by the lowest hanging fruit more so than big tasks; I assume this gives me a sense of accomplishment. This means larger and longer running tasks tend to be de-prioritized for things that are easy to complete such as responding to Slack or clearing out my inbox. Just today I was working on completing a feature when I was messaged about sponsoring a local event. I immediately jumped on the message to discuss the details and was immediately drained when we weren’t able to come to an agreement. Some days I wish I could just close Slack, turn off my phone, and focus, however I don’t think the world in 2018 is built well for people that want to disconnect.
Being Indecisive Has Caused Plenty Of Problems
Not being able to make a decision and then stick to it can have some dramatic consequences. One problem I currently face is not being able to unwind after work or properly destress on the weekends. In the past I would play video games however I’ve found just deciding which game to play is a major task (first world problems, I know), so I typically end up sitting on YouTube for a few hours until I finally work up enough energy to play a game for a little bit.
Another recent example has to do with career advancement. I was faced with the choice of applying to become an Engineering Manager or stay the course as a Senior Engineer and continue to trek towards becoming a Principal Engineer someday. Through a lot of indecisiveness and general feeling of dread (what if I am a shitty manager?) I ended up staying the course and passing on the opportunity to interview for the position. Was this a good career move? Probably not, most high level engineering positions want management in there so even if I was a terrible manager I could have always jumped back over while still having the word Manager on my resume.
Depression Is Not Fun
I guess the point I’m trying to make with this article (besides being able to say I wrote something today) is that depression is not fun. There are some days where I flat out don’t have the energy to do more than the bare minimum and yet there is no good excuse in today’s world to support that. While my current manager probably would be fine with me posting “ Hey everyone, I’m feeling super depressed today, going to take the day to sleep” in the morning on Slack, I think they are the anomaly. I think I’m longing for a world where mental disorders are treated like physical ones; it’d be nice if having a bad day mentally was respected in the same way as someone that caught the flu.
This content was originally published here.