My Apple Watch Shows When I’m Depressed

Source: Unsplash

There are a lot of tells when someone’s depressed. We struggle to get in the shower; we don’t leave our beds for days. More often than not, these two go together. We drink, medicate, lash out. Cry pools of tears like Alice, vacillating between crying and scolding ourselves for giving in to our emotions. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t experience any of these things myself, but they’re certainly not my biggest tell. That would be my Apple Watch.

I’ve had my Apple Watch since July 2019, but I only started to take it seriously at the beginning of the pandemic. I’ve had my depression for much longer than that. Winston Churchill once wrote of a man who painted himself only in dark hues, and I often think about that line when I think about my life. I, too, paint myself in moonless tones. But for as long as I’ve suffered from depression, I’ve also been an athlete.

By nine, I was part of a prestigious ski racing club. At 11, I became the fastest girl for my age group in British Columbia, Canada, in the 100-metre hurdles. When I wasn’t skiing or running, I was playing soccer and field hockey. So the Apple Watch was a long-time coming obsession for me because I’m constantly active, and I love it. But if I’m honest, I enjoy closing the rings and reviewing my logged workouts more: the kilometres covered, the calories burned, the spike in my heart rate. I boil it down to a narcissistic curiosity.

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I’m religious about wearing my Apple Watch. I charge it every night and put it on before I slip even one foot out of the covers in the morning. That is until I enter a depressive episode.

Losing interest in something you once cared about is a sign of depression, and as silly as it sounds, when I fall into an episode, I stop caring about wearing my watch. I let it die. I forget about it for days on end so that when I finally do reach the surface again and charge it, my monthly calendar is a sea of colourless circles.

The Apple Watch lets you look at past months to see your previous workouts and, even on your off days, how naturally active you were. Because of my narcissistic curiosity, I often scroll through the calendar, and it’s painfully evident the months I was depressed. There will be two weeks of pink, green, and blue rings with green dots next to them, followed by three weeks of nothing. And then the cycle repeats itself. Sure, sometimes I have a faint idea that at some point during a particular month, I felt like the world was caving in, but I never remember the exact dates. But my watch does. It’s like having a diary for my depression, and I didn’t even mean to write in it.

Left: Happy Caroline | Right: Depressed Caroline

It’s weird and triggering to be reminded of your depression in this way. I’m staring at my episodes in calendar format. Its lack of colour taunts me. And it’s morbid that I’m aware of this reality, and I still scroll through the calendar. But at the same time, how can I beat my demons if I can’t face them?

Suffering from depression isn’t anything to be ashamed about, and we should treat all baby steps like milestones. Maybe for you, it’s getting out of your sweatpants and putting on a pair of jeans. Running a comb through your hair. For me, it’s putting on my watch. And I’m happy to say I’ve worn it every day this week.

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Caroline Winston

Caroline Winston

Inspired, thought-provoking journalism. A hub for business, technology, sport, culture, and everything in-between.

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