How to get stuff done when you are depressed | Jessica Gimeno | TEDxPilsenWomen

How to get stuff done when you are depressed | Jessica Gimeno | TEDxPilsenWomen

Translator: Kamile Viezelyte
Reviewer: Giang Pham Depression takes practice. Now, some of you may hear that and say:
“Jessica, that’s preposterous. Do you know my boss?
Have you met my ex? Don’t you know that mental illness
runs in my family? I don’t have to try to be depressed.
It just happens. What I’m saying, is that living well with
depression takes practice. Being productive every day, despite
depression, takes practice. Being a student or an employee with
depression takes practice. I’ve had experience with depression
both personally and professionally, but before I go there, I want to share
with you a few numbers that illustrate how depression impacts all of us,
as a society. According to the World Health Organisation
by the year 2020, depression will be the second-greatest disability in the
world, second only to blindness. The National Institute of Mental Health
tells us that depression is the number one disability among Americans ages 15-24,
preventing millions of people from being able to finish school
or hold down a job. Psychology today calls it ‘presenteeism’,
the phenomenon by which companies lose billions of dollars every year in
lost productivity to depressed employees who come to work but don’t actually work. All of this means that depression can be
as debilitating as a physical obstacle. For instance, carrying a cane. But, with a visible disability, we assume
it will take practice to cope, including things like physical therapy. Yet when it comes to depression, we think
that a label and medication are enough to cope. Now, I’ve worked in mental health
non-profit for years. And while I’m thankful for the great
strides we’ve made with anti-stigma campaigns, it’s time
to go beyond getting a diagnosis, into giving people actual coping
mechanisms. Because without coping mechanisms,
we’re trapped in a downward spiral. Being depressed leads to falling behind,
falling behind leads to more depression. So let me tell you why I care so deeply
about this cause. I had a happy childhood, I was the
youngest of 15 grandchildren, and we were very close. And yet,
in spite of faith, family, friends, I had these moments of darkness and the
only way I could describe it would be to call them flashes of grey, in an otherwise
cotton candy childhood. I remember my first episode, I was
8 years old, and we were going to school, and all of a sudden I thought, gosh,
all this feels meaningless. Like, I don’t know, I just feel like
I’m gonna live seventy years, and die, and go to Heaven, so,
I don’t know why we go to school, I don’t know why we go to work,
I just feel– I just feel really empty. And thankfully those moments
were very fast. However, when I became a teenager,
those moments of darkness, they stretched into hours, and hours
became weeks, and sometimes hours and weeks
became months. And during these depressive episodes,
I would have crying spells, I found it difficult to concentrate
on anything, sometimes I did have suicidal thoughts. But just as bizarrely as these depressive
episodes came, they left. And they were replaced with episodes of
genuine stability and happiness, and sometimes highs where it would take me
5 to 6 hours to fall asleep, and I would have extreme outbursts of
artistic creativity, where I could finish a painting that takes 4 weeks to
make in 4 hours. And so, the roller-coaster of mood swings
continued until I had an epiphany when I was 18 years old. I was a freshman in college and a friend
with bipolar disorder committed suicide. This prompted me to research the illness. And everything started to click –
I realised I had half the symptoms of bipolar disorder; it explained the
inexplicable episodes of depression, the highs due to what we now know as
hypomania, where I couldn’t sleep and I had racing thoughts. So I saw the campus psychiatrist, who
diagnosed me with bipolar II, and I got a second opinion, which
confirmed the diagnosis. Now, with therapy and medication,
things were much better. But something was missing. What nobody taught me was how to get
stuff done when I was depressed. So, on my own I developed
creative strategies. I graduated from Northwestern University
cum laude with two majors, I competed for Northwestern speech team, I was a state champion, a national
quarter-finalist, a national semifinalist. I also co-founded an organisation to help
depressed students on campus. But bipolar disorder was not my only foe. When I was 19, I was diagnosed with a very
painful polycistic ovarian syndrome. And then when I was 24 years old, an
autoimmune neuromuscular hurricane by the name Myasthenia Gravis
invaded my life. I’ll never forget my first episode. I was climbing up this long flight of
stairs at work, this beautiful sunny day, when all of a sudden I couldn’t feel
anything below my waist. And so I kept falling, and falling,
and I could hear my high heels tumbling down the stairs. At first I thought, you know, where are my
quadriceps? I know I brought them with me when I left the house this morning. But then, my thoughts turned somber as
students stepped over my limp body, in a rush to get to class. And my mind was screaming ‘Get up!’ But my body couldn’t move.
And I couldn’t speak. A few weeks after that, I was diagnosed
and hospitalized in critical condition with Myasthenia Gravis. The doctor gave me a 50/50 shot of living. And that was 7 years ago. So today, I carry a cane for the
Myasthenia Gravis. People often ask me: ‘Hey, what’s it like
to live with 5 diseases?’ And I tell them the truth, I say: ‘Well, I
see myself as Rocky and my 5 diseases as Rocky’s different opponents.’ So, bipolar disorder is Apollo Creed, the polycistic ovarian syndrome is
definitely Ivan Drago, Myasthenia Gravis is Mason Dixon, asthma
is Clubber Lang, and psoriasis is Tommy Gunn. The odds of getting the first 3 of these 5
diseases are 1 in 50 million. And after that I stopped counting ‘cos I
just didn’t think there was a point. So, every day I wake up in pain and what
I do when I wake up is I play ‘Eye of the Tiger’, and I put on my
Rocky boxing gloves, and I pray to God for strength to get through another day. Today, I’m a health activist, a writer,
and a speaker, I have my own award-winning blog,
‘Fashionably ill’, which is about surviving pain with style and humor, and I’m a contributor to several other
websites, including The Huffington Post, MSNBC did a documentary on my life, Psych Central named me a mental health
hero, and right now, I’m really excited about a project I’m working on;
I’m consulting on a project with Rutgers University and University of
Massachusetts medical school. We’re developing a program that will help
young adults with severe mental illness finish school and find meaningful
employment. And that’s the thing I wanna talk about
today, it’s how to get stuff done when
you’re depressed. The three themes we’re going to address
are proactiveness, urgency and difficulty. So, proactiveness. What does it mean to
be proactive? Do you have a plan for the next time
you get depressed? So, let me give you an analogy: Over the years, my Myasthenia Gravis has
gotten better with medication, physical therapy, nutritional supplements,
practice. But there are still times when, all of
a sudden, I can’t feel my legs, or I’ll lose feeling in one half of my
body, either the left or the right side. The other day, I was talking to one of my
students, I coach high school debate, and I could sense that I was losing
feeling in my legs. So immediately, I sprang into action. I clutched my cane harder because I knew
what was coming. In the same way, when I sense that I’m
getting depressed, I spring into action. I call my therapist right away, schedule
an appointment, I start exercising more than usual. Because exercise releases endorphins,
the feel-good hormones, that help us fight stress and depression. But, in order to make a plan, you need to
know two things: Your symptoms of depression and the
strategies that work for you. When we usually talk about the symptoms
of depression, it’s a generic list. You’ve probably seen it in a pamphlet or
read it somewhere on the Internet. But the truth is, no two people are
exactly alike. So what are your symptoms of depression? Some people, when they’re depressed,
they lose their appetite. Other people tend to overeat when
they’re depressed. Some people have insomnia. For others,
they sleep too much. Some people have outbursts of anger; and still, many people with depression
have no temper at all. Know yourself. In addition to knowing your symptoms, you
need to identify now what strategies work for you. So, what do you need when you
get depressed? If it faith, is it family, is it friends,
is it exercise, is it reading, is it listening to music? Identify these strategies now so that
when you see your symptoms, you can spring into action. The other day, my niece gave me a pleasant
surprise visit, and I was really happy to see her. When she hugged me, she said:
‘Tita Jessica, did you know you have toothpaste in your hair?’ And so I’ve learned that toothpaste
in hair equals depression. For me, anyway. Know yourself, plan now, don’t wait,
be proactive. The best defence is a good offence. In addition to being proactive, we need
to understand the concept of urgency. Urgency is about drowning out wild noise
and focusing on what’s the most important. So, let me give you an example
of what not to do. In college I had this class called
‘The sociology of crime’. And once in a while, the professor would
show us clips from classic mafia movies, like ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Goodfellas’. And so I had this brilliant plan
for the midterm. I mean, I thought it was a great plan. And I was going to finish reading the
whole textbook, I was gonna review all the lecture notes, and I was gonna
watch all of those mafia movies. So, the test was on a Tuesday. I reserved Sunday for watching
all those mafia movies: ‘Godfather’, ‘Goodfellas’, ‘Casino’. And Sunday came and went, watched all
those movies, I reserved Monday for reading the
textbook. Monday came, and I woke up depressed. And then I stayed depressed. So, Tuesday morning came, and I hadn’t
read a thing. I went into the exam, and for every
question on the test, I kid you not, my answers were: ‘Well, in Goodfellas,
Henry Hill, played by Ray Liotta, he did this,’ or, ‘Lorraine Bracco did
that,’ or, ‘According to Vito Corleone…’ Wouldn’t it be great if my professor
rewarded me for temerity of my answers? He didn’t. (Laughter) He said while it was great that I had
mastered mafia cinema, he would appreciate it if I read the
textbook next time. So, obviously, if I had to do it all over
again, studying the textbook was a 100, no, maybe a million times more important
than watching ‘The Godfather’. Urgency is about being able to understand
what is most important and what is most pressing. So, I keep a daily to-do list. If something’s due today, it gets 4 stars,
if it’s due tomorrow, 3 stars, sometime this week, 2 stars,
next week, 1 star. And when I’m depressed, I ignore anything
that has less than 3 stars. Urgency is also about being able to say no
to non-essential tasks. So, meeting your work deadline
is essential. The church bake sale is non-essential. When we say yes to everything,
we amplify our stress. One of my friends’ mom, a pastor, says: ‘If you can’t say no, then your yeses
mean nothing.’ Third and finally, getting stuff done when
you’re depressed is about understanding difficulty. So, when I’m depressed, I label all tasks
as a 1, 2 or a 3. If it’s an easy task, it’s a 1. Examples include eating breakfast or
taking a shower. If it’s a moderately difficult task,
it’s a 2, and a 3 is reserved for difficult tasks. For example, finishing a paper in college
or scheduling an appointment with your child’s teacher, or meeting a difficult
work deadline. And when I’m depressed, I focus on
finishing all the 1 level tasks first. And every time I cross something off my
list, even if it’s taking a shower, I feel empowered and I think: ‘Bipolar, watch
out, I’m coming, I got this!’ And as I finish off all the 1 and 2 level
tasks, I build the confidence to tackle the 3 level tasks. And you can also help yourself by turning
a 3 level task into a 1 level task. So, I remember a time when I was in my
therapist’s office and I told her: You know, I wanna exercise because
experience has told me that when I exercise, I feel better about my
bipolar disorder. But I’m just too depressed to do 30 mins
of exercise right now. And she said to me: If you don’t have 30 minutes, can you just
give me 10 minutes? That was life-changing advice. So now I aim for 10 minutes.
And 10 becomes 20. And 20 minutes becomes 30 minutes. Today we’ve talked about 3 themes in
getting stuff done when you’re depressed. They’re proactiveness, urgency
and difficulty. Almost always when I use these strategies,
they work. But there are days when the bipolar
disorder or the ovarian disease, or the Myasthenia Gravis, or
all of the above win. And when that happens, I remind myself
of something that I want to share with all of you. I want to share this with anyone
listening, who fights depression, or who loves someone that does. Yes, depression is real. But hope is real. Courage is real. Resilience is real.

89 thoughts on “How to get stuff done when you are depressed | Jessica Gimeno | TEDxPilsenWomen

  1. Actually most of her diseases are related, all in some regards autoimmune (some theories suggest that BPD could be related to inflammation). So I really hope we as a society could pay more attention to coping with autoimmune irregularities on people. MG is really serious, hope she's doing well in 2019.

  2. Nice motivational speech. I don't believe that her 'level' system of the difficulty of tasks works for everyone. Even thinking like that might be already too much for some. Like Chester Bennington once said: "I'm just going to crawl over to my corner and die here." So, if one feels and behaves like their 'dead' (not necessarily wanting to be dead) it might be more useful to start the day with one thought: "What is the least I could manage to do today?"
    Even going for a shower can already be tough as a 'ghost' and requires a physical rest afterwards. But it could be something to be proud of. Especially if one is lonely and has nobody who cares.

  3. Thank you so much Jessica. Your strategy has really help me and I definitely will apply it for my life. I'll try to always get better and find a silver lining.

  4. Sounds all great, but you really need support from someone to get you through the depression. Some people have caring family and friends, some don't. The family I did have that cared have all passed away, the ones left never cared for any of us here. The friends (?) I had seem to have only been my friend when they needed something, I was the first one they called. When I need help, they point me to others who they think should help. There are other friends who mean well, I guess, but they truly don't understand depression, since all they say is "Think positive", or "Snap out of it." Sometimes you really need that helping hand, and for me, no one seems to want to extend it. And forget the healthcare field where I live, they go through the motions as if you were a bother, get you in and out ASAP so they can do other stuff. It's hard beating this.

  5. Reading the comments, I feel like the depression I had when my favorite nephew passed away 25 years ago that I experienced sounds like non-depression.

  6. so heartbreaking to read that everyone else here is also going through an episode and feeling discouraged from this…it has to be really tough times before I start watching depression ted talks on youtube for solutions anyway… :-/

  7. Get up when you can't get up. Be motivated when there's no motivation… What? But yes, I at least agree with the baby steps. Self-love meditation even while laying in bed help a lot (there are plenty on YouTube) because as long as we hate ourselves for being inactive it will become worse. Meaning the first step is, to love myself unconditionally and accept who I am with all my flaws and illnesses. Go to your mirror and say: "Good morning, I love myself and forgive me all my mistakes!" This is my "ladder" out of the darkness.

  8. I'm glad that this video creates a space where people who live with mental ilnesses can share their stories. It is so important to do, because it brings awarness to society and maybe one person will feel better for not being so alone. We definetly needed the place like that. So thank you, everyone who told their story.

  9. Title should be "How to get stuff done when you are feeling down (or sad)." These are not very ideal 'tips' for real depression.

  10. Know yourself
    Yep. Oddly enough, making lists and plans makes me even more depressed and unable to become motivated. I feel weighed down by to-do lists and I just don't ever want to do what I wrote down. I think my situation is my biggest depression trigger. I just can't figure out the right career for me. If I knew, I could hurry up and get out on my own. I'm on my third college degree and it feels like there's no light at the end of the tunnel. Not having a life I can call my own…at my age…it's beyond depressing. A lot of days I find it meaningless to even get out of bed.

  11. Actually, her description of her first 'coming to awareness' of depression, sounds very much as though she had a huge flash of insight into the futility of life as packaged by modern western society. Occasionally, you will find brilliant kids who can see through all the BS long before the schools have had a chance to brainwash the ability out of them.

  12. Ok, I’m scared reading so many comments where people say taking a shower is hard. This is so sad, how can there be so many people feeling so helpless? I have no idea how depression works, but since Idk what to do to help, I’m gonna make a list of the beautiful things in life worth living for:
    1. Animals (pure and innocent)
    2. Ice cream
    3. Music
    4. Dance
    5. Babies
    6. Helping people who need you (any way you can)
    7. The wind
    8. Swimming
    9. Nature in general (fruits, trees, flowers)
    10. Birds singing
    11. Your own singing
    I wanna ask you guys if you can:
    Try to do some of these things everyday.
    Put on some happy music and dance and sing along
    Listen to the birds sing and feel the wind or dance in the rain
    Go swimming
    Eat fruits and read about the benefits of the ones you’re eating
    Play with babies (if you have any in your family or if you have friends who have babies)
    Try a different flavor of ice cream
    Help somebody (anybody, with anything)
    And always, ALWAYS keep one thought: I am worth it, I deserve happiness and I will make this happen.

  13. But where do you get the energy to do the 3 Star things in the morning, when you wake up depressed every day and need to watch a movie or something before you feel alive?

  14. I see a lot of comments attacking this women for “not truly being depressed” or “not knowing what she is talking about”. Guys, depression is different for everyone, everyone is different. These tips may help one person, but be worthless to another. Don’t throw away everything she is saying because of all the negative comments. That fact that your here means you want to change, and you will, keep pushing, even if this video doesn’t help, you will get better eventually. Keep on keeping on.

  15. How is blowin' your own trumpet going to help people with depression especially those who are in their 30's and up? People who haven't accomplished a thing because depression is too crippling they could hardly move and get out of bed.

  16. I think my biggest issue is my career. I spent most of my adolescences and college life dreaming of being an engineer. It’s what I thought I always wanted. Now for all intents and purposes I have it and it sucks. It’s not just eh and could get better, the last 4 years has sucked and I get a real “what now” feeling. I was never so sure of anything in my life than I was to be an engineer and now I don’t know. It may seem innocuous compared to other people’s troubles but my career was important to me from a young age and now I just feel lost and unrecognizable

  17. A grave and serious concern topic addressed so beautifully. For me when I see a red flag I shut down. And depression is the mother of red flags and it’s so difficult to drag yourself to do anything at that time, But it’s exactly at that time when you need to adjust the sails to keep moving and not give up. Inspiring share and I really like the part of the mention of keeping a plan ready. Totally relate to it. Must have an sos action plan and be prepared for whatever comes you way for life will keep throwing tests and we will keep learning from those challenging lessons that condition us.. or soul ✨
    Much love and angel blessings
    More power to you 🤘

  18. when depressed and doing my best with it.. I get determined.. even when cleaning the kitchen seems to have 50 confusing steps I let it be that hard and do it anyways

  19. The video starts around eight minutes… If you wanna see her dancing on a soapbox about her accomplishments (which made me feel lazy and hopeless), start from the beginning.

  20. I watched a lot of these video's!
    All speakers have a high IQ..!
    For people with an average IQ it is harder to 'live' with depression.
    The following is probably not true,but some times i think people with an IQ under average are more happy!
    People with an average IQ know what to do,to overcome or live with depresssion,but they can not act according their thoughts!
    I cant remember right now,but that film with Robin Williams and Robert De Niro,makes apathic people move again!

  21. Thank you for recognizing this as a chronic illness.
    And for adding hope and some resources. 💜🐾🦋

  22. TL:DW?
    7:45 is when she starts discussing the topic. Prior to that she's telling you why she thinks people should listen to her.

  23. Well, I have been depressed for most of my last 10 years. Am not sure how to find motivation for all those to do lists and star ratings. Good for her that she can do that. I am happy I am still alive and I have learned to be kinder to myself and forgive more.

  24. Thank you for the encouraging talk! What a fighter and a wonderful woman. Silly piece of information… When at my lowest, when I couldn't get out of bed somebody bought me something like apple-flavoured corn flakes. My brain clung to the taste so much that each morning I would dream of eating them. It helped me to get out of bed and get on with my day. Anyway, I appreciate all the advice in the video, especially on having a strategy for the days when I'm depressed.

  25. I don't think she's ever heard of dysthymia/persistent depressive disorder because typically, you're born with that type of depression.

  26. This is glorious, I've been looking for "non prescription medication for anxiety and depression" for a while now, and I think this has helped. Have you ever come across – Hanincoln Nanlivia Framework – (do a google search ) ? Ive heard some pretty good things about it and my co-worker got cool success with it.

  27. I think the video title should be " How to get stuff done when you have bioplar with depression" because this doesn't apply to like 99% of us that has depression only.. When she says when depression is coming, what is your plan of action?.. again depression is a 24/7 mental illness, it doesn't just come and go. Being productive is challenging as you don't see the POINT of doing anything at all. The passion you once had is gone. Everything becomes meaningless no matter where you are in life.

  28. When I was depressed I showered daily and I hated it before doing it but felt so good after I’m done. Even if I didn’t go out

  29. 1:08 I know she's on a stage but she's micked up, does she have to be so loud and almost dictatorial????? I'm not going for the next 14 then…

  30. Lots of people saying, "It's hard enough to get out of bed, let alone shower, etc…" I've been there many times. What seems to help is on those days I don't want to even get up, I just let myself have those feelings. I tell myself, "OK, I'll stay in bed and sit with my feelings until…" That 'until' could be 10am, noon, when I get hungry or even tomorrow. But I make the deal with myself that I can have my day of depression if I can promise myself honestly that I will make even slightly more of an effort to participate in life tomorrow. And you know what happens? Just giving myself that permission to sit with my feelings and let myself fully experience them until… has made it so that I am far less depressed! I have far fewer episodes of depression and feel much better about myself in general. That's because the guilt and spiraling thoughts that came with the idea that I should be doing something else more productive was keeping me locked in my depression. So, it's okay to feel what you feel. It's okay to not want to get out of bed sometimes. It's okay to struggle. Don't compare your path in life to others. Give yourself the permission to cry, grieve, mope, sleep, watch TV all day on the weekend, whatever you have to do to make the deal with yourself that you can get up and try a little harder tomorrow.

  31. This should be called "how to get stuff done when you are feeling down from time to time". I will never really be able to grasp what my brother went through, but if it was something a to-do-list could have solved, he would still be here today.

  32. I have been socially isolating for four years. I’m scared I’m never going to get better. I just wanted to write my story but my brain has literally written the same thing for four years over and over. I wanted to write it 4 years ago then go see my kids because I experienced Catatonia. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to talk or answer their questions. I typed than Dissociated. I typed than dissociated and never really got that far On my 500th attempt roughly I said no more but still I am doing the same thing over and over.

  33. I know How you guys feel, completly unmotived, with no Will, not understanding the point of doing things. But sometimes you just have to do It, even If you have no energy, even if you can't see the light. Do something. Take a bath, eat breakfast, clean your room. I know it's hard but you have to get up and try cause no one Else Will do It for you.

  34. There's a difference between being in a depressed mood as a result of BD and having depression.
    If you actually have a depression, you don't "realize you're getting depressed and jump to do things," as you say you do.

  35. When she says that the 1s showering or eating are the easiest task, I think she means most basic. I dont think she is disregarding the fact that being unmotivated is the main hurdle of depression as a whole. However there are some things that are essential to daily living that can be the focus of yr baseline activity when you are depressed therefore making them the easiest of ALL the things you may need to do. This disease is no joke we have identify l the ways to overcome it

  36. this gal is very wise. I struggle with depression, anxiety, have osteoarthritis and Hashimoto's. I, too, choose to be highly functioning. I force myself often to do what I don't want to do. It ain't easy! glad to see this.

  37. I think Jessica is a FANTASTIC living example of how we can all use all we have in an attempt to overcome depression and other ailments that can/are at times highly. I know it’s hard to get out of bed, shower, eat etc. I have been there also and lost my beautiful younger brother to suicide! But what is the alternative – stay in bed, end your life? NO! We must take some action no matter how small and acknowledge that we have indeed achieved that action! We must fight it, show compassion and understanding to those who are suffering and above all do EVERYTHING we can possibly do to connect with those we love 💕 Thank you Jessica for your courage, persistence, and suggestions to help overcome some of the crippling effects that depression presents us with. Personally I am planning to never stop trying, albeit it incredibly tough even on good days!

  38. She classified shower and eating as an easy task because yes, for a typical person NOT suffering from depression with average living lifestyle, showering and eating should come naturally. And as a person with depression, it's important to reflect those normal habits and make it routine

  39. I could tell by the title alone that this video was going to be useless and tone deaf. And boy was I right. I wish self-compassion was taught more than “just do it.” If “just do it” worked than there wouldn’t be a need for a mental health system, would there?

  40. I actually do this, I crawl out of depression but it so fuckin hard that sometimes I find myself unable to breathe! But I have to do I have to make it I have to be!!

  41. I have PTSD from 22+ yrs of cancer. I have an intimate relationship with depression. Too many people tell people like me what to do, like yourself but with no firm idea of how to do these things.

  42. Depression is terrible, I'm a young kid and suffering from depression and I feel like everything is hopeless, i want to die but I'm scared of what comes after, or if anything does. I hate school I don't want to wake up and get dressed, I hate being around people but everyday I have to or else I'll get held back. I just want to be successful and have a good job but I don't feel like doing anything. A therapist is not going to work because why would it? nothing else helps anymore. Can't get anything done because I can't focus, I sometimes get happy and laugh but than the sadness comes back. Everyone would think kids my age are just trying to get attention but it's not like that for me, I just want to be happy, and not scared or sad.

  43. I feel like most of the her talk is braging.
    I dont found anything useful tricks for people who cant leave their bed in depression

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