Starting Things and Finishing Things When You're Depressed

Sonja asks:

“You've mentioned several times that you suffer from ADD/ADHD, and also that you've been going through times of depression. I am currently in a depressive situation myself, and I wonder how you manage to start & finish anything related to your business.”

My answer:


“Start and finish”!




That’s a terrible way to start my answer. What I meant to say was, “Thank you, Sonja. This is a great question. I’m sorry you’re suffering through a depressive situation, and I’m happy to help in any way I can.”

The bursting out laughing comes as an alternative to going back to bed, putting my head under my cozy weighted blanket and not coming out till Saturday.

Yes, I have both ADD and depression/anxiety. I actually have a really awesome kind of depression and anxiety called PMDD, which means I totally lose my shit for the entire 14-day second half of every menstrual cycle. It’s fabulous, and really great for my personal relationships. Truly, I’m a joy to be around.

Now. Back to your question. I have two small answers and one big one.

First: If there’s not a good reason for you to avoid going on meds, for the love of God, go on meds.

I avoided taking SSRIs for years because I thought I could beat it on my own. I lost a lot because I was telling myself a story. I’m not sure what that story was – I was depressed and not making much sense – but it was a really sucky story that stopped me from getting better.

Second: I read a book called Getting It Done While You’re Depressed.

Some parts of the book were really good. Others, not so much. It got repetitive after a while. But it set a different narrative in motion for me. I spent less time saying, “…but I’m depressed!!!!!!!” as if that was a complete sentence. I started saying things like, “Hey, it looks like I’m depressed.” Which leads me to…

Third: Learn to use “therefore”.

When we are suffering from depression or anxiety or Brain Stuff ™, we say things like:

  • “I’m so depressed.”
  • “I’m so anxious.”
  • “I feel awful.”
  • “I suck.”
  • “I’m really depressed.”
  • “I’m really anxious.”
  • “I feel really awful.”
  • “I really suck.”

And so on.

These types of sentences are the bread and butter of depressed and anxious people. If you were to somehow record the running commentary in our head for a full 16 hours, you would get 16 hours of these or some variants.

These sentences are pretty useless.

“I’m really depressed” has about as much value as a sentence as, “This carpet is really dirty.”

Wow, thanks, Naomi! What a fascinating insight!

In my One Person’s Opinion, and what worked for me, was training myself to take every one of those statements and add a “therefore…”.

“I’m so depressed therefore… I will get dressed.”

“I’m so anxious therefore… I will take a nice shower.”

“I feel awful therefore… I will only try 15 minutes to start.”

“I suck therefore… I will do some stretches before I start work.”

“I’m really depressed therefore… I will take great care of myself tonight.”

“I’m really anxious therefore… I will stay in instead of going to the party.”

“I feel really awful therefore… I will play some nice music and go to bed.”

“I really suck therefore… I will try again tomorrow.”

And for bonus points?

“This carpet is really dirty therefore… I will vacuum it like an adult vacuum cleaner owner.”

The addition of the “therefore…” brings back personal power and responsibility. It trains you in responding to your feelings, rather than letting them sit there in the middle of the living room.

Depression, anxiety, Brain Stuff ™, ADHD – all of it – is running a very effective brainwashing campaign to tell us all that feelings just exist, like snow, and we’re supposed to sit there, all powerless like.

Therefore, trains us to act. Even if the action is “Forget it, I’m going to bed”, at least we’re consciously acting.

Consciously acting – at all, in any way, no matter how small – is the first step in starting and finishing. Learn to act, and you got this.

For more on working with brain stuff, read Ebb and Flow, Consistency, and Alex.


A few other things to do while you're here:

  • The Emergency Turnaround Clinic (100% FREE!) – A re-release of our “how to survive the recession” class from Back In The Day – no sign-up required
  • The Karma Store – 12 of our products are still on pay-what-you-want, so if you need anything in there, you can still get it.
  • Unlock the IttyBiz Freebie Vault (now featuring the Money Masterclass!)
  • Naomi’s new blog – it’s about how to take care of yourself and the people you care about
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