I work very hard to be productive every day in spite of depression. My depression would like me to stay in bed — forever — but I fight back. I get out of bed, I have coffee, I write and so on. And at the end of the day, I look back and see how productive I was. I find this metric very important. It turns out it’s the depression that makes me judge my productivity very harshly.

Depression and Productivity — I’m Asleep or Working

If you watched me during the day you would see very few spots during the day when I was doing anything other than being productive in some way or sleeping. When I’m awake, I’m working or doing something else productive like running errands, cooking, taking out the garbage, etc. When I’m not doing something like that, I’m usually sleeping. This is because I’m always tired. So basically I work and do other productive things until I’m too fatigued and can’t take it anymore and then I have to sleep. (I realize this is not much of a life, but let’s just skip over that reality right now.)

And believe me, I judge my ability to function this way harshly. If I don’t get the productive part of my day done because I’m too sick, I’m very unhappy about it. I’m a cruel mistress — to myself.

How Was Your Day with Productivity and Depression?

This judgment rolls itself into how I consider any day to have been. Watch this video that talks about how a person with depression looks at a day when someone asks what one’s day was like:

And realizing that I judge my depressed days based on productivity is both confusing and, well, depression.

How Do People Without Depression Judge Their Day?

So, if I judge my day with depression based on my productivity, and I find this to be perfectly normal, I started wondering how other people judged their days. Is it actually possible to have an unproductive day be good? Is it possible to have a productive day be bad? What other things do people actually judge their day on?

Now, I know if you’re not depressed, you probably think those are silly questions. But they really are ones that occur to someone who has been severely depressed for a long period of time. Believe me, we forget what a normal experience is actually like.

Of course, I can make certain guesses. What I think is that people judge their day based on how they feel. A good day is a day when they feel good — possibly because good things happened or possibly just because they felt that way for no reason. People actually feel good and have a good day independent of productivity.

My goodness are they lucky.

How Do People with Depression Judge Their Day?

I have to tell you, when it comes to how I feel on a daily basis, it is static. I’m depressed. Every day. Sometimes it’s worse and more dramatic than other times, but at all times it is depressed. So, if I judge a day based on how I feel, then all my days are the same: all my days are bad as they are all depressed. How I feel doesn’t change according to what’s going on. My feelings are mostly immovable. When you ask how my day was, I intellectually make a determination — not emotionally. So my day was good based on objective facts. I gave a webinar. Good. I saw my friend. Good. I only worked for two hours. Bad. And so on. Feelings don’t even enter into it for me.

What Judging Your Day by Productivity When Depressed Means

The realization that this is what I do and that other people do it differently was depressing. It’s incredibly sad to judge a day based on productivity because we are more than what we do. We are more than what we accomplish. We are more than the objective stats in our bio.

But my depression really doesn’t see it that way. It sees me as worthless. It sees only what I do as worthwhile. That is my contribution to the world. That is what defines depressed me. I suppose that’s one of the reasons I’m so driven. I’m driven because if I wasn’t producing, then I would be worth nothing.

But this is just another lie that the depression is telling me. I, and you, are worth far more than what you do. We are complex, multi-faceted, beautiful beings that offer our lights to the world. We offer our imperfect perfection. We offer our foibles. We offer our bugaboos. We offer our ideas. We offer our uniqueness. We offer our interactions. We offer all that we are in ways that cannot be counted or even adequately described.

So I say back to my depression: that is what makes us. That is what makes this a life. That is what makes a day. Screw your stupid productivity rules. It’s a good day because I survived it and my light shone. And that’s enough.