And I’m actually not talking about the relationships you hold with others, I’m talking about the relationship you hold within yourself. In order to be free from these toxic mentalities the first step is to realize they are there in the first place.
All of my four years of high school I would run on this need to be productive. If I wasn’t busy and doing things every second of every day, I would feel worthless, and unsuccessful. I would hold this unrealistic standard for myself that, my worth went hand in hand with how much I could get done in a day. I really believed that if by the end of the day I wasn’t dropping onto my bed because of exhaustion, I failed.
My junior year, my schedule looked like this:
6am-8am wrestling practice
430-6pm theatre rehearsal
615pm-10pm studying for dual credit and/or homework for dual credit classes.
And by the end of the day I would feel satisfied and accomplished.
While in the moment I was, “okay”, looking back, I don’t reflect on the feeling of satisfaction. All I remember my junior year was covering up my depression, and running away from what was really going on in my life.
Even after all of the exhaustion, I did it again my freshmen year of college. Not only maxing out the amount of classes I could sign up for, but doing it during a time of uncertainty during a pandemic (during a time where not only was I a freshmen in college who had no clue what they were doing, but neither did my professors). And I felt trapped in this never ending cycle of letting my self worth depend on my productivity.
It wasn’t until this past spring semester that I realized my habit of hyper productivity was doing nothing but harm.
And since then I have been trying to balance my life with of course productivity, but also rest. Prioritizing the time I need for my mental health, just as much as the time I need to be productive.
While society’s stereotype of depression is someone who stays in bed all day and neglects theirs needs, it can also look the opposite. People with high functioning depression is just that, and I feel is way less noticeable because no one spreads awareness about it. I feel society thinks you need to look a certain way in order to be depressed. But the way depression looks can vary, and just because someone doesn’t look or act a certain way doesn’t mean what they are going through isn’t real. Being hyper productive, on the outside looks healthy, but on the inside it is just a way for the person with depression to ignore what they feel when they are still.
I remember anytime I was not feeling okay, instead of sitting down and journaling, or going for a walk to reflect and break down what I was feeling, I would keep busy and never let my mind be still. Because when I was still, my thoughts and an overwhelming amount of negative emotions would come flooding in and I would feel trapped. So I masked everything with a stressful schedule that would just add on to my already depressed state of being.
If you are someone who uses productivity as a way to “cope”, I’m sorry but it’s not coping. It’s using the act of being busy to keep your mind from going in the negative direction. And the more you ignore it, the more intense it will get and it will catch up to you. I’ve linked other blogs that spread awareness to this type of depression and also places to get support. Again, the first step is just accepting what is really going on and getting help. You don’t have to go through any of it alone. And know that you are not alone in any of this.
So just as a little PSA if you feel someone is using hyper productivity to cope with what is really going on, check up on them just as much as you do with someone who is on the opposite side of the spectrum.
More on hyper productivity-
If you need support-
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline-