Much and all as I’m sure you’re absolutely riveted by my musings on changing meds, I’d like to talk about something different today, something that could help easily explain how you’re feeling. We came up with some novel (and very much not PC) categories in my house but this makes a whole lot more sense. I can’t claim credit for a lot of this content, it was sent to me by a reader, I’ve just adapted it to suit my own needs. 

Anne, thank you!

 Traffic Lights (or, an easy way to answer ‘how are you doing?’)

  • Calm, mindful, controlled – at peace with myself
  • Able to focus
  • Able to multitask without feeling pressured or frantic
  • Happy, lots of energy (assuming kids co-operate and let me sleep)
  • Clear head
  • Feeling optimistic about the future, trusting myself to make decisions
  • Motivated, both at work and at home
  • Want to look after myself – eat well, exercise. Cooking isn’t a chore
  • Looking forward to family time instead of panicking about how I’ll fill the weekend
  • More open
  • Softer – Hubby finds me easy to be around, I handle the kids much better
  • Want to see friends
  • Know that I need medication and counselling, that neither is causing a problem


  • Less energy
  • Mind races
  • Decisions need to be made now, this very minute!!
  • More easily frustrated if the house is messy, kids act up
  • Easily distracted
  • Anxious
  • Waspy, irritable
  • Want more time alone
  • Start to withdraw from friends
  • Sleep is less restful
  • Less inclined to eat well or exercise
  • Cooking becomes a chore
  • Start to feel under pressure for time
  • Bitchface puts in the odd appearance
  • Feel guilty for all of the above


  • Things are starting to get out of control
  • There’s not enough time for everything so I get stuck and can’t do anything
  • Overwhelmed easily
  • Anxious
  • I’m f.i.n.e.
  • Find it hard to sit still
  • Concentration shot to bits
  • Need to have order around me
  • Irritated by noise – kids, tv, dogs barking, washing machine……..all too much (particularly if these are all happening at the same time)
  • Very busy head, hard to control where thoughts go. Generally difficult to pick out what the thoughts are, just lots at the same time.
  • Very forgetful
  • Tired
  • Very irritable and snappy, on a short fuse
  • At some level I’m aware I need to slow down and try and turn this around, but it’s getting increasingly hard to do it
  • Motivation for anything very low
  • Losing perspective
  • Work is a struggle
  • Hard to sleep
  • Bitchface is pretty shouty now
  • Meds aren’t working
  • Over-reliant on Therapist

By now I’m in very dangerous territory and unless I manage myself really carefully (or more to the point at this stage, Hubby, friends, Therpist help me manage) I cross over into red. Red is bad, very, very bad.

  • Bitchface is in control
  • Overwhelmed by everyday tasks
  • I want to run away, I feel trapped
  • Impatient. Everything needs to happen now, right now, this very minute!
  • Mood can be anything from numb to angry to extremely low
  • Crying, shouting, angry, picking fights
  • Perspective is gone
  • Motivation is gone
  • Blame Hubby for perceived problems
  • Black and white thinking – I’m always like this, it’s never going to go away, we’re always fighting.
  • Urges to self harm, suicidal thoughts
  • Completely withdrawn from everyone – Hubby, kids, family, friends. I just want to be left alone.
  • If left alone, I’ll sit and stare at nothing for hours
  • Want to stop seeing Therapist while at the same time desperately want to talk to her
  • Want to stop taking meds
  • Hospital 
So there you have it. I really like this. When Anne sent it to me first, I could identify with so much of what she had written. Lots of the above are my own, but, lots are hers, which is interesting in that it really goes to show just how similar we all feel with depression. 
And today? Today, surprisingly enough considering I’m tapering meds, I’m good, somewhere between yellow and green, and tending more towards green. I’m being very mindful of what I’m doing at the moment, and trying to be aware of what I need physically and emotionally, rather than what I want (which can often be the exact opposite of what I need). I’m eating well (mostly), I’m getting lots of sleep, I’m walking my dogs, I’m doing some very gentle, restorative yoga and I’m using headspace. And I’m still standing!

This article has 6 Comments

  1. You added a number of forgot but do recognize, the hubby ones for starters. I'm clearly yellow to orange at the moment ( playdates today our house looks like it's been hit by a tornado and so do I. But looking over the green items, it sort of calms me, I know I can do better than how I feel now, and I recognize who I am when I'm green. Thanks for posting your list, I can add to mine and know I'm not alone in how I feel, comforting.

    Geat that you're doing good eithout the meds. Aren't you tempted to just stop and not continue with the other ones?

    1. So so tempted Annemiek, and Therapist actually got quite excited when I told her how good I was this week. But psych says it's not up for discussion right now. If I get off these without too much trouble and am still standing at the end of it I'll be so reluctant to start yet another one! Will have to just see how the next week goes.

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