MY DEPRESSION WILL NOT DEFINE ME: 5 TIPS TO HELP YOU CONQUER 'LACK OF ENJOYMENT'


I don't really write about mental health as often as I should. Apart of me wants to keep it private, and another part of me doesn't even know how to describe what I'm feeling. But because this is taking over my being lately, I feel like I need to write about it.



"Lack of enjoyment" is one of the symptoms of depression. For me, this is a symptom that comes and goes in waves. Sometimes, it'll hold off for a few years. Sometimes, it'll give me a break for a few days. But unfortunately, right now it's been taking over my life for far longer than I've ever experienced.

It's gotten to the point where I can't even enjoy simple tasks. 



I used to loooove playing video games. I was that person that could be up till 4 am chugging down unhealthy carbonated beverages while immersing myself in the pixelated world in front of me. But now? I just kind of force myself to play. Instead of enjoying it, I just try my best to figure everything out and get it done. It's almost become a chore for me. 

It's the same situation when I'm watching a movie or reading a book. The moment it starts, I'm waiting for it to end. I can't even focus on the plot, nor do I give a care about the characters. This is coming from the girl who used to base her life off of films and books. I would LIVE for the world of imagination and stories, but now, I can't even get myself to care.

I used to smile and jump in a circle while wandering through nature and I'd feel every lyric and beat while listening to a song. Now, nature is just there. Songs are just background music. 

Considering I can't even enjoy the simple joys of life, you can only imagine how the "bigger" joys of life feel. The moment I go to a party, an amusement park, or huge event, I feel drained almost immediately. It's almost like I'm a level 6 Pokémon and everyone else a grass-type ready to kill me with giga drain. Going to hotspots that I used to love like Disneyland or the beach don't give me the enjoyment I used to effortlessly feel. Instead, I feel tired and anxious.

This doesn't mean I'm depressed 24/7, it just means my baseline mood has been "meh" lately. Don't get me wrong, some things bring me moderate happiness, like eating a really good meal or getting a huge huge from my boyfriend. But I know I haven't been feeling as happy as I should lately. 

It's important to note that this isn't who I am now. I know I still have that "girl who enjoys things" inside of me, I'm just in a funk lately. That's just how life is. And with depression, it's amplified. The symptoms of depression can't define a person with depression. Eventually, I know I'll overcome this symptom. Maybe it'll come back...but for now, I'm just going to do my best to get through it. I know I have to take it slow and not pressure myself. 

I've gotten through this symptom before, so I know I can get through it again. While this is a symptom of my depression, there are also a ton of outside factors that can amplify this symptom. 

If you're going through something similar, here's some things that've helped me in the past (and that I hope will help me again):

1. Mindfulness. Being fully present in each and every moment always helps. This isn't easy for everyone. I have trouble with this a lot of the time, so you just gotta try your best. It can be especially hard to practice mindfulness in the era of social media, so a healthy relationship with your cellular device might help enhance your state of mindfulness. 

2. Starting small. Lack of enjoyment has always been the hardest symptom of depression for me. Not enjoying life makes life seem so dull. While you shouldn't pressure yourself to enjoy things, you can put yourself in the right direction by taking things slow. Whether it be a Netflix binge, a new outfit, or freshly baked muffins...do something small that makes you feel closer to enjoyment. 

3. Minimizing stress by accepting responsibility. As young adults transition into full-on adulthood, it can be stressful to take on responsibility. Sometimes, I feel like "adulting" is in the back of my mind 24/7, causing me to forget about the present moment. I always worry about finances, getting my work in on time, and making sure everything is in order. However, it helps me to realize that all of my responsibilities are far more simple than I make them out to be. 

Despite the fact that I keep a calendar and frequent to-do lists, my responsibilities and stress never escape my mind. I've never missed a payment or a work deadline yet I'm always worrying. If the smallest inconvenience happens to me, I'm left stressing out and researching fixes all night long. Instead of freaking the hell out, I need to trust myself and just let loose.

4. Embracing change. This is something my boyfriend and I openly talk about a lot, and I think it's because we've been together so long and have lived through so many eras together. Sometimes, the things you used to love get old. That doesn't mean you're 100% done with that thing forever nor does it mean that thing won't always be apart of you. It can be something trivial like the music you've been listening to or it can be something huge like your job or the lifestyle you've been living. Instead of holding onto things that don't fit your current vibe, embrace the things that are calling your name in the present moment.

My boyfriend & I find ourselves switching it up with music genres, escaping to places we've never been before, embodying different aesthetics with every different passing year, joining and leaving various fandoms, and experiencing with different hobbies and activities based on how we feel during that era. The core of our essence is still the same. We're the still the same people, the same souls. However, we need to listen to the voice inside and what it really wants. Sometimes, I think lack of enjoyment can come from doing things you might not actually enjoy anymore. Like I said earlier, that doesn't mean you're throwing that thing out the window, maybe you just need a break.

5. Talking to someone who cares & write out your feelings. Let it out to your best friend, your significant other, your therapist, or whoever else you trust. Talk to someone who you know will give you stimulating conversation. Having a bunch of intoxicating thoughts floating around your head is NEVER a good idea. Just getting those thoughts out in the world is the first step to healing. 

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Now, I'm not saying following these steps will heal you inside and out. But they have helped me in the past and I'm hoping they'll help me now...

Thank you for reading this. Much love,

Maria Elena

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