I'm doing therapy because I've been having major depressive episodes pretty regularly over the last several years. And, as I told my therapist, I'm perfectly happy to just be miserable, but the problem is that my depression has a negative effect on the people around me, so I'm trying to learn some better tools to deflect depressive episodes before they start.

One of the tactics depression likes to use to get its hooks into me is: telling me that I never accomplish anything, because I have all these unfinished projects, and that the reason is because I'm bad and lazy, and this will never change, and also I have no time to myself, and this will never change either, so I'll never accomplish anything and I should stop trying.

I whined to Spouse that I never finish any projects and she was like "What about [list of projects you finished]?" and I was like "Those don't count" and she's like "Why not?". And it seems I immediately forget about my finished projects, or decide they don't "count" for some reason. In therapy, they call this a "Negativity Filter", it's a kind of cognitive bias very common with anxiety patients.

So to fight back against depression, I'm making a list of things I actually did accomplish in the month of March, that I can point at and say "See, depression? You're objectively wrong"

Stuff I did in March:

  1. Threw a nice 5th birthday party for the kid.

    She imagined a cake stuffed with bananas and chocolate pudding and topped with whipped cream, so we made that together. It's her invention! And it was delicious!

    Her mom's parents (and her mom!) are now vaccinated, so we were able to go over to their house and have dinner together without masks on for the first time in a year, which was very nice.

    My present to her: I glued glow-in-the-dark stars to her ceiling. But, being me, I can't just scatter them randomly! I measured the room, found true north, traced the current sky map:

    onto a square paper, divided it into a grid, recreated the grid on the ceiling, and went about making constellations as realistic as a projection of a hemisphere onto a flat square would allow. This took several hours over three days.

    This way her ceiling is always the night sky as of her birthday.

    I was pointing constellations out to her with a laser pointer when we made a fun discovery: laser light instantly recharges the phosphorescence in glow-in-the-dark stars, so when you zap one it turns very bright. Seems like you could make a fun game out of this.

  2. Work: finally released [big work project] to [big customer], something that's been a goal since last fall. With this, the roadmap of feature requests for [product] is actually complete. For the first time in six years, there's not a new version in production, because we have no outstanding feature requests or bug reports. This means we have actually... finished... a software product???? And I can move on to other things?

  3. joined a D&D game. First time playing D&D in like eight years, I think? First time playing 5th edition. A friend from comics club is running a game based on Slavic mythology (she's from Poland) which sounded interesting enough, and different enough from typical D&D, to get me in.

    The first session went well, despite the usual awkwardness of figuring out how our characters relate to each other, plus the awkwardness of playing online. It seems like a good group, I want to keep playing with them.

    I'm an orc druid! I'll tell you about my character some other time.

  4. started my garden back up, planted seeds for this year. Last year, when I realized I'd be stuck at home from the pandemic for a while, I started gardening for the first time in my life. I put a ton of work into clearing the ground, ripping out old roots, figuring out where the sunny spots are, building a raised bed, collecting pots and containers, laying down soil, composting, building cages to keep the squirrels out, building a trellis for beans to climb, composting, etc. etc.

    Now that it's year 2, I get to enjoy the benefits of all that work all over again, for free!

    I told you about the new orange tree. Here's a picture of the lovely compost I made from last year's kitchen scraps and yard waste:

    Now that it's done I spread it on the raised bed for fertilizer, mmmm, delicious, I hope this year's plants love it.

  5. Beat Hollow Knight. This is an excellent indie Metroidvania that I played on Switch. I'll do a whole post sometime about how good it is, at environmental storytelling and level design and atmosphere.

    Final time elapsed on my save file: 54 hours. Time elapsed when I first reached the final boss, The Radiance: 39 hours. So yeah, I spent a cumulative 15 hours just losing to The Radiance. I think it took me almost a hundred tries before I beat it. Must have been the hardest video game boss I've ever beaten.

    Spouse was like "Why don't you just give up and watch the ending cutscene on YouTube?" but Hollow Knight was so good I really wanted to finish it properly, and I'm glad I stuck with it.

  6. Caught up on painting my Warmachine Khador backlog. Here's all the models I assembled and painted in Feburary and March. They're standing on top of a trench diorama that I also scratch-built for them in March.

    This takes my unpainted Khador model backlog from 65 models down to 40.

  7. Started group therapy class, as mentioned

  8. Used techniques learned from therapy class to head off a couple of potential depression spirals which might otherwise have turned into full depressive episodes. (This will be a post for another time)

  9. Restarted Habit RPG, with a focus on trying to build habits to control my websurfing, so I can get more work done in less time, and have more time to do things I really want to do. This is a constant struggle against myself that I've had for years -- I need to be on the internet for work, but the internet provides infinite distractions and I'm very good at distracting myself. I've probably lost cumulatively years of my life to reading web pages that I didn't even really want or need to read. (This will also be a post for another time).

  10. Restarted daily exercising, another thing I'm using Habit RPG to track. Among other exercises, I'm doing this every weekday morning before my first work meeting. It's pretty easy, but better to have an easy exercise routine that I actually do than a theoretically rigorous one that I cheat on all the time.

  11. Did some video calls with some old friends I haven't seen in years. This felt really good, and I want to do more. Did you know that you can just email an old friend and ask if they want to talk? You don't need an excuse? And a lot of times they say "yes"? And then you both feel less isolated from the world? I highly recommend it.

  12. Started writing regularly for this website: I overcame some pretty serious mental block and wrote 3 articles in a row the last 3 days of March. (This is number 5)

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