Anna is going to be writing about her experiences with depression and anxiety in the next few weeks. As you probably know, I also struggle with them; I’ve written a little bit about them here and here. Because I’m also in a better spot at the moment, I thought I’d join Anna and tell you a bit about one of my depression symptoms: limited attention span.
In case you’re wondering, attention span has never been an issue for me outside of my depression. But when I’m depressed, everything seems overwhelming and dark, much like Anna said. When I say everything seems overwhelming, I mean everything. For me, this includes entertainment choices.
When you’re depressed, it feels like the only thing you can do sometimes is rest, so it seems like it would be a perfect time to read a good book or watch a good movie, right? Well, maybe. I find it much harder to read anything, period, when I’m feeling very low, and certainly nothing of substance. I usually find that I can’t even watch a whole movie, no matter how light and funny it is; I can only commit to watching episodes of a TV show. Ironically, I can often watch multiple episodes that equal the same amount of time as a full-length movie, but it’s like I can’t handle investing so much into one plot. I need to know that there are end points so that I can quit if I want.
I can tell when I’m really depressed when the thought of watching a 22-minute episode of a show becomes too overwhelming. This is why staying in bed all day seems like a really good idea; it’s literally all I can handle at that point.
It may sound silly, but this is an area that I often feel especially guilty about when it comes to how depression affects my marriage. My husband Dave loves playing games and loves watching movies. Well, suffice it to say that we often go for very long stretches of time where we don’t play games together at all (because if I can’t even handle a movie, there is no way I can handle playing a game), and it’s been a long time since the two of us have actually watched a whole movie together. Dave has been a complete champion about this, which means the world to me, but I still feel bad that he sacrifices some of his favorite forms of entertainment for me.
I can tell that I’ve been feeling better lately, though, because I was able to watch not one but TWO movies the other weekend when I was visiting with family. And these were emotional films, too. I’ll admit, I was nervous about it, and I felt pretty intense afterwards, but I did it. And I heard about another more serious movie lately, and I actually wanted to watch it and mentioned it to Dave. I’ve also been craving more serious and challenging books again.
This is comforting to me, because one of the lies depression tells me when I’m in the midst of it is that the reason why I’m having trouble with anything remotely challenging is because I’m just lazy and stupid. It’s not, and it’s not for you either if you struggle with this.
So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go request that movie from the library. But if I can’t watch it by the time it comes, I’ll be okay with that, too.