My executive functioning took a dive with my last depressive episode and it hasn’t quite resurfaced. It seems to take me three to five times longer to complete tasks than the average person. This is my first blog and I predict that, despite my best intentions, it will probably emerge in fits and starts.
Impaired executive functioning complicates one’s day-to-day ability to complete small tasks, not to mention relationships and career.
It’s quite common for those who’ve gone through a major depressive episode to have slower cognitive abilities, whether temporarily or for the long-term. This is true not just during the episode, but also afterward or between episodes. It is what prolongs the disability beyond the treatment of the mood disorder. Impaired executive functioning complicates one’s day-to-day ability to complete small tasks, not to mention relationships and career.
Tracking time is not the same as it once was. I used to be aware of it and unconsciously check in with it at regular intervals, so as to keep on schedule. Now, I set multiple timers on my phone every day, not just to get myself out the door to attend an appointment, but also for the tasks that I need to complete that lead up to going out the door. I might have four alarms go off in the hour that it takes me to get ready—because otherwise, I might not get past the first step. The Ripples jingle of my iPhone has taken up permanent residence in my mind.
This is how someone ends up six years late to their own blog: one day at a time.
I have intended to write this blog for years—six years to be exact. I’ve had thoughts rattling around in my head that demand to be written as I press myself to walk, season after season, along the trail outside my house. Yet, intentions are not actions. Upon arriving home, I become overwhelmed with a mind fog, or anxiety, or both, and I put off my writing until tomorrow. This is how someone ends up six years late to their own blog: one day at a time.
For many people, this is hard to imagine. I still can’t believe it myself. I wasn’t this person before my latest depressive episode, before the meds. Of course, this leaves me to wonder whether it’s not the meds that have caused it, but there’s no way to safely test this, as the meds are working well to alleviate the depression and easing up on them brings the depression back.
… I’ve become a better listener. I certainly have more compassion toward others now than I once did.
So, I must accept that this is the new me. This is me on anti-depressants. This is me without the reliable clarity I once had. I can still put words together to write this and I am grateful for that. I am also grateful that my experience has humbled me and, in slowing down, I’ve become a better listener. I certainly have more compassion toward others now than I once did. I have more compassion for myself too. I cannot force myself to think more clearly or work more quickly, so in order to move forward, I have had to learn to be more gentle with myself and adjust my intentions. All I can be is my best self in this moment. All I can do is share my experience.