Are the Kids Still Playing that Atari These Days?

One of the worst parts of depression is the way it cripples you and prevents you from managing even the most basic aspects of your life, like self-care, household chores, running errands, working, taking care of your pets or kids…basically, life. 

And depending on how long you’ve been in the lows, this could cause a lot of resentment in the home, by a spouse, family members, or roommates who have been picking up your slack. Resentment leads to angry discussions and confrontation, which is the last thing that someone who is depressed has the energy for. 

In the end, the bullshit maintenance aspects of your life wait for no one, and unless you’re rich enough to have a personal assistant, eventually even the most understanding spouse is gonna say HANDLE YOUR SHIT! AND WOULD IT KILL YOU TO CLEAN THE CAT’S SHITBOX ONCE IN A WHILE?!?!

God, if I could explain to y’all how many hours I’ve wasted lying in bed thinking about cleaning the shitbox. It takes five minutes to clean, but I’ve wasted hours thinking about how hard it will be for me to arise, put on a bra and other assorted clothing, walk the twenty feet to the shitbox, burgle my cat’s turds, and take them outside to he garbage can. 

So now I bribe myself to do it. 

A few years ago, The Wife read an article about hypergeniuses. I wish I could find that article. It was about a 19-year-old tech genius who needed very little sleep or food and basically saw the world in a whole different way than we average folk. He envisioned the entire world as a game layer where people earn points for everything—going to the store, mailing packages, competing in marathons, keeping a reservation, everything

Well who in the fuck am I to argue with Wile E. Coyote, Hypergenius? 

To that end, I game-layered my shit, yo.

Now I assign every goddamned thing I need to do, no matter how small, a point value. This applies to work projects, personal projects, housework, errands, chores…basically anything I don’t want to get out of bed and do. I unloaded the dishwasher! Five points! Cleaned the shitbox? Ten points! Braving the inhumanity that is our hippie grocery store? That’s 25 points! Swimming? Because it seems to be taking a crane to motivate me to swim, that one there is 50 whole points. (I have yet to go though. The heart does not want what the heart does not want.)

At the end of the week, I tally up my points. Then I use them to trade in for things I’ve been wanting. I can either use them right then—100 points and I’ll buy a shirt or a pair of shoes or go out and get a mani/pedi—or I can save them up for a bigger item. New blender? That’ll be 250 points. A new Sonos speaker? That’s 500 points. 

Yes, it’s nothing more than bribing my ass to do things that I need to be doing simply to be a contributing, functioning adult. But I’ll lie in bed trying to gin up energy to be productive, thinking “I need to eat. I should get up and make myself a smoothie.” (Something that is both labor-intensive and healthy, which makes it a double whammy in my book.) And then I’ll close my eyes and imagine taking the little slip of paper from my to-do whiteboard (yes I have a whiteboard to manage my life, shutthefuckup) and moving it into the little basket where I keep slips of paper with completed tasks on them. And then I’ll imagine all the shit on my amazon wishlist and think of finally being able to buy that jumpsuit covered in cats and rainbows that I’ve been coveting, and goddammit if my ass doesn’t get up and make a smoothie. 

I’m an advocate of By Any Means Necessary when it comes to kicking depression in the taco. I’m lucky to have a very understanding and sympathetic spouse so she’s fully behind it. “I’d go to Target for you, honey, but I know you really want those twenty-five points!” Hilarious. 

Whatever. The point is that you need to figure out what works for you. I’ve spent the large part of my depression, when I’m in the throes of it, thinking about ways to motivate myself to live my life. And living your life starts with the small fucking things. The number of weird apps I’ve tried to motivate me, to help me manage my time, to help me sleep better, to brainstorm, to mind-map, to help me be more productive…each one of them failed to work. So I tried something else. And when that didn’t work, I tried the next thing. The failure is especially hard when you’re feeling the world already closing in on you, but the point is to keep fucking trying.

And because I love you, my pretties, I will show you all my dorky Board of Accomplishment. (That’s not what I call, BTdubs, but it reminds that I do need to come up with a catchy name for it.) 

Behold: