I had one of those moments where it feels like you’ve thought of something really profound, but it’s also something completely obvious. Here is the thing I thought of:
Everything in life is preparing for doing, doing, and cleaning up after doing. Doing is all we do.
This miraculous epiphany came to me as I was tidying up after baking cookies. I’d been thinking about how people spend a lot of time and effort preparing to do things like go kayaking and then doing those things and then putting everything away after, and how I used to spend a lot of time and effort this way for hiking and photography, and how after roughly a year and a half of rarely doing anything outside the home, going to all that effort just to do something outside can seem so pointless. Over the long weekend I put together a TV stand (with a fireplace in it!). I also made blueberry muffins from fresh blueberries I picked at a friend’s house, but I didn’t hear the timer for some reason and they got a little burnt. This is why the next day I made cookies. All of these things involved a lot of preparation, time for the actual doing, and cleanup. And I thought, this is all there is. This is life.
We do some things because we must in order to survive. We do some things to help others. And we do some things, like the kayaking and hiking and photography, because we enjoy them. We expend effort on them because they are worth it to us.
Depression is not wanting to do things because you don’t see the point. Or at least, it is for me. Depression is not finding that enjoyment in anything.
I have paid attention to my depression for long enough that I can tell when I am in danger of slipping into it, and that has been very useful for managing it. My depression is not caused by not doing things, but not doing things can exacerbate it.
Thinking that “all there is to life is doing” felt like a depressive thought yesterday, but pragmatically, it’s just a general description of activity. There are so many variations possible within those loose guardrails.
I had my bike tuned up the other day. It’s a pain in the ass to get it up to street level from our apartment, and it’s a pain to get it out of the apartment complex too—I either have to half-carry it down a cliff, push it up a hill that is a struggle just to walk up, or shove it into the back of my car and take it somewhere else. But cycling is something I used to do all the time, regardless of the effort involved, because I loved it. Hopefully, I can recapture that feeling. Hopefully, I can start wanting to expend effort on doing things outside the home again.