Bed Days


Apr 15, 2016 8:59am

Yesterday and Tuesday were bed days for me, and I am working very very hard not to let this beautiful day become a bed day even tho I feel exhausted and have a migraine coming on.  (Hey Excedrin has caffeine, so maybe I’ll get some energy from that!) My bed days usually occur after a very bad night of insomnia, and due to a bad GP day, a low mood day, and/or a photophobia/migraine day combined.  They also happen for the reasons noted by Jonathon Rottenberg (below).  I‘m not writing this for sympathy, but to help myself and others understand why bed days happen.  They are frustrating on a beautiful Spring day, but also difficult to overcome.
I did shower on both days, and on Tuesday I made it to yoga with the help of the fantastic Esther Retish. On Tuesday I went back to bed about 2pm and stayed there listening to my audiobook until Mark got home and still went to bed before 9pm.  Yesterday I skipped yoga and didn’t shower until I knew Mark was on the way home. Another concern is that I only drank one protein drink of 250 calories all day yesterday before Mark got home when I had some milk and cereal.  I was having a bad GP day and I lacked the motivation  to get up and eat which was compounded by the lack of hunger, nausea, etc… Obviously, lack of food contributes to low energy, anxiety, and depression. I did do a few things around the house each day, but activity was low and isolation in bed was high.  Jonathon Rottenberg, PhD at the University of South Florida has written an article on “bed days”, it was posted on June 3, 2011 on this site:
Here are some key points:

JonathanRottenberg Ph.D.  Charting theDepths  Why Do Depressed People Lie in Bed?

Beds are the most natural location for a behavioral pause, as the place in the house most associated with inactivity. For depressed people, almost any activity or task becomes a painful ordeal, even things as simple as taking a shower or getting dressed. A perfectly able-bodied person can’t bring him or herself to rise out of bed. How does this happen?

The intuitive answer is a lack of motivation, but this begs the question of how a person loses the desire to pursue goals in the first place.(Especially a person who is incredibly goal focused like me ~JSN.) The answer involves a surprising theory that turns the standard explanation on its head. Depressed people don’t end up lying in bed because they are under-committed to goals. They end up lying in bed because they are over-committed to goals that are failing badly.

The idea that depressed people cannot disengage efforts from failure is a relatively new theory. It fits well clinically with the kinds of situations that often precipitate serious depression — the battered wife who cannot bring herself to leave her troubled marriage, the seriously injured athlete who cannot bring himself to retire, the laid off employee who cannot bring herself to abandon her chosen career despite a lack of positions in her line of work. (The Type A, career focused, physically active person who has to radically alter her career and lifestyle due to multiple health challenges (me) ~ JSN) 

  • Seeing these depressions in terms of unreachable goals may be useful clinically, and may help us better understand how ordinary low moods can escalate into incapacitating bouts of depression.

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