Don't Worry, You're Accomplishing Things
Being clinically depressed, this whole quarantine is hitting me hard. My anxiety and depression have been holding hands on a roller-coaster making it hard to stabilize my brain. It's not just that I'm stuck inside, but I'm in here with my wife, 4 kids, a dog and two cats. There is literally never a dull moment. For example, yesterday my 7 year old daughter was unplugging her laptop from the wall and the cable broke. She had a scary moment where there was a loud noise, a little bit of fire and some soot on her hand. She screamed, my wife screamed and I was pulled away from my work to figure out what was going on.
My therapist has always told me to work on projects that I enjoy to help with my anxiety and depression, and you can see that this idea is taking hold across the world during this period of isolation. There has been a lot of interesting discussions around the topic of learning new skills, or starting a side project, or doing some creative work.
However, there are days where I just seem to fail at everything. A few days ago I woke up and it felt like the world was working against me. I spent a lot of the morning trying to get my broken local development environment working instead of actually getting work done. When I finally got things running, I took a lunch break and my kids must have had cotton balls in their ears. They acted like they completely forgot the English language.
Later in the day after my banging my head against my monitor a few times, I took a break to try and ease my anxiety. I walked outside and it was beautiful. I thought, "You know what, I'm going to relax in our hammock for a few minutes." It broke as soon as I got on. I laid there for a while contemplating life while my wife justifiably giggled at the sight of it all.
I really just wanted to accomplish something, so I drove to Lowe's and bought some replacement parts so that I could enjoy the hammock. Of course it took forever because during the pandemic, everyone is doing home projects. I get home and try to put everything back together, but I bought the wrong sizes.
This is where I typically decide to not touch anything else and wait for the day to end so I can reset.
I happened upon this thread on Hacker News today asking the community "What's your quarantine side project?" I immediately felt a little discouraged because I have so many projects that I want to work on, but I increasingly feel like I have less time.
- Write first novel.
- Write and record an album.
- Re-write Hedphones to be streaming service agnostic.
- Write new features for RoutineHub.
After a few minutes of skimming through some really interesting projects from the HN community, I started thinking about my accomplishments during this time instead of all the unfinished (or not even started) projects.
- I have started working out every 2-3 days!
- I added string lights to our deck. It looks so beautiful at night.
- I finished reading The Witcher series.
- I started writing this blog! Which, not many people will read, but that's not the point. It's purely cathartic.
- Fixed up an old DS Lite for my daughter to play on rainy days.
- Replaced the string in my Ernie Ball VP Jr with this cool lifetime string from Shnobel Tone
It's the projects I haven't completed that stick in my brain. It's so hard to get some free time to work on these projects, but many times it's because I'm too depressed or anxious to do anything. And then I get depressed and anxious thinking about what I haven't gotten done. It's a classic negative cycle case.
- 4 DIY guitar pedals
- Treehouse for the kids
- Remove the wallpaper from the twins room
From now I'll continue to focus on the projects I have started and enjoy the projects that I've completed. Those future projects will come in time.