A Day in the Work-Life of a Person with Depression

July 8, 2021 Mahevash Shaikh

Here's what a day in my work-life looks like with depression: The alarm rings at 8:00 A.M. On most days, I am able to wake up with it. In case I don't, I rely on the backup alarm at 8:30 A.M. Either way, waking up is one of the hardest parts of the day. I have to hit the shower immediately after I wake to stay up. Bathing is a challenge, but since it makes me feel better mentally and physically, I push myself to do it every day.

About two-and-a-half hours after waking up, I begin work. The very idea of doing something personal and creative for the world to see---writing--is daunting on most days. Plus, there's the imposter syndrome that I have to deal with as a result of depression. Thankfully, I can rely on positive affirmations to put my mind at ease and begin working. Of course, my morning coffee helps as well. 

Not Just Any Affirmations Will Do

I'm sure you've heard that positive affirmations are powerful and good for your mental health. However, in my experience, they only work when they are personally meaningful. When I first gave affirmations a shot, I was lazy and used popular ones. It was no surprise that they didn't work for me. Only when I thought about my hang-ups and wrote my own list of affirmations did they work for me. They help me cope with negative self-talk and limiting beliefs and also remind me of my strengths.

After I read my list of affirmations, I feel like I can get my work done for the day. It might not be the best work I do, but at least I can make an effort and try. After about two to three hours of work, I feel exhausted and need to take a break.

An Afternoon Nap Is Mandatory

I then have lunch while watching an interesting TV show. The show serves two purposes: it entertains me and helps me eat. I don't like eating lunch because once I'm done, I feel extremely sleepy and demotivated. At this time of the day, all I want to do is go to sleep. If I don't have any deadline to meet that day, I do just that. My adorable baby nephew also needs to nap, so I pat him to sleep and rest next to him. Cuddling with him makes me feel better, and I always look forward to this ritual. Sadly, napping for more than 30 minutes at a stretch makes me groggy, so I have to set an alarm to prevent that. 

After another cup of coffee, I am able to work for another two to three hours. Music often helps me get through the afternoon slump. My speed of working varies throughout the day: it is slowest in the morning, average in the afternoon, and fastest in the evening. At around 6:00 P.M., I have a snack, and by 6:30 P.M, I'm back in front of my laptop. If I'm lucky and productive enough, I'm able to finish work for the day at the latest by 7:30 P.M. If not; I'm unhappily glued to my chair until 8:30 P.M. or 9:00 P.M. 

The Work Day Ends with Exhaustion

When I finally turn off my laptop, I feel a sense of relief and accomplishment. I feel glad that I was able to get through the day instead of snuggling in my blanket. However, work takes a huge toll on my energy levels. I'm lucky that I don't have to cook much because my mother, a homemaker, typically takes care of that task. Dinner is the only meal of the day I enjoy because I don't have to rush to be anywhere or do something else. Other than a quick walk, I don't move from my bed. Now is when I read, watch Netflix, and, on occasion, talk to loved ones. Still, there is only one thing I look forward to more than anything else: going to sleep. As sad as it sounds, it's the closest I can get to the eternal slumber we all fall into one day. Plus, my mind and body desperately need the rest. 

All Days Are Not Equal 

Did I make it sound as if I am always able to function with depression? That is untrue. I have days when I am unable to get much (or anything) done. I take a mental health day or two if I feel I'm dangerously close to burnout. Even when I'm functional, there are moments when I experience anhedonia or apathy towards my work. I've come to accept this as a normal part of my life. But no matter what, I try my best to remind myself that I'm doing the best I can with what I have. 

APA Reference
Shaikh, M. (2021, July 8). A Day in the Work-Life of a Person with Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Mahevash Shaikh

Mahevash Shaikh is a millennial blogger, author, and poet who writes about mental health, culture, and society. She lives to question convention and redefine normal. You can find her at her blog and on Instagram and Facebook.

Lizanne Corbit
July, 9 2021 at 5:27 pm

I really love so much about this piece and thank you for sharing such a real and authentic glimpse into our day. Two things, in particular, that stand out to me, not all days are equal and you chose affirmations that actually spoke to you. These are two things that can be so easy for us to miss or get hung up on. Some days will be "better" than others and that's ok. Similarly, not all affirmations are created equal, you have to find ones that actually speak to you and your needs.

July, 13 2021 at 1:36 am

Thank you so much, Lizanne. It always helps to know I'm not alone -- and that I'm doing the right things to cope. Hope you have a better day than usual :)

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