Last year, I wrote a blog post about the trouble with being in ‘autopilot’ mode when it comes to our mental health. At the time, my focus about being on autopilot came in terms of awareness and understanding. Rather than simply recognizing the what and where, I wanted to understand more about the why. In time, I’ve learned how to harness that focus to get things done even when I’m experiencing symptoms of mental illness. However, there are also drawbacks to this approach and today, I’d like to reflect on some of what I learned.

A big inspiration for my post about being on auto-pilot surrounded my productivity. I go through phases of learning when it comes to my mental health, figuring out which ways will help me in the moment. One of the phases I went through last year was learning about productivity. I knew if I only did something when I had the desire/energy to do it, there is a lot I would miss out on or not be able to get done. So, I learned how to best manage my depression and anxiety in a way that avoided creating a bigger burden on myself.

While I did see improvement, I think there were some drawbacks to this approach that I didn’t consider until recently. I was relying too much on accomplishing a specific goal that it mattered less how I got there. There might have been a few ways to get a task done but rather than run down that list of options and figure out the best one for the moment, I leapt to the first one I thought of and went into auto-pilot mode.

Naturally, this creates a lot of problems not only for myself, but those around me. I thought I was doing this to get things done, but I’m realizing now that I go into auto-pilot before the decision is even being made. That means I’m moving faster than I should be, and that doesn’t always lead to the best decision-making.

I’m still working my way through learning this about myself so I apologize if this post sounds vague or confusing. But to be honest, this is something I’m working out in real time. I’d like to think that my mental health toolkit is foolproof, but it’s not. Things will be added and taken away, and I’ll learn and adapt to finding what works best for me and the people around me. It’s not just about what works once or twice – it’s about whether I can incorporate something into my everyday life. When I start to have trouble with that, I need to go back to the drawing board and figure out what to do. And even though that can be frustrating at times, I know it will help – and often, that’s the whole point.

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