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How Autopilot Mode With Depression Makes Me Feel

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I wake up late in the morning and my whole day goes by: I go downstairs and have lunch with my family, I go back upstairs and try to get some tasks done. While I do so, I get distracted from time to time, replying texts, emails and just generally scrolling through social media. At night, I watch something on TV until I fall asleep. As much as I change my routine, nothing seems enough for me to feel like I’m actually fully present and aware of my surroundings.

Have you ever gotten the feeling that everyone and everything around you is happening somewhere very far from where you are, or from the first moment you start your day, time flies and next thing you know, it’s already the next day? I tend to do so quite often, and I believe I’m not the only one. I wake up in the morning and start my daily routine almost as if it was automatic: everything seems redundant regardless of how I try to change my plans and my routine itself. Every week feels like the same cycle leading to nowhere: it’s as if my whole life was a play, and each day is an ongoing scene at the stage while I’m there sitting with the crowd just watching how my day goes by.

Sometimes I feel like I’m no longer the director of my “play,” and not even a secondary character; I’m a spectator — I watch as everything is falling apart from my lack of response to certain situations. This feeling of being present in the moment but at the same time being far away is what I like to call my “autopilot mode,” perhaps due to the lack of a better word. While everything takes place in my life, I rarely even show that I actually care; instead, I seek distraction somewhere else, almost always failing to do so.

This is a very common symptom of depression; nevertheless, the problem lies in the fact that I’m not always on autopilot. Sometimes, I get an incredibly unexpected energy boost that comes along with an enormous amount of motivation — this feeling could last a few hours, a couple of days or a week. It rarely lasts more than that. While I’m experiencing this, I engage in several extracurricular activities that, at the moment, I feel I can accomplish.

Perhaps I do achieve most of them, but the issue is that when I’m no longer feeling motivated, I find myself having to finish several tasks I got myself involved in. Without that energy boost and with my “autopilot mode” activated, I have to force myself to finish what I once started. Since I’m obligating myself to do so, the results are not as good as I and everyone else expected them to be. Hence the reason why I fear I disappoint people who already have high expectations from me because of what they saw I was capable of doing during my momentary boost of motivation.

I can’t seem to control my autopilot mode, nor my energy boost. I understand these are coping mechanisms my brain has developed, and at first they were actually related to certain situations. Nowadays, I no longer need to experience something in particular for these coping mechanisms to make their appearance.

I decided to write about this because I’ve heard people go through the same thing, but we can rarely find the right words to describe the feeling. I figured out I’d try my best to describe it so we can all be aware that we’re not the only ones experiencing this overwhelming cycle that seems never-ending from time to time. Although we may feel like we’re alone, and that our autopilot mode has made us push everyone away, I’d like to believe we’re not. We might feel lonely, but I’m grateful this community exists so we can share our experiences and perhaps even learn a bit more about ourselves and others.

Getty image by aerogondo

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