Derailing for mental health reasons?

So we recently had a thread about the legitimacy of a derail. In a similar vein, I want to talk about derailing due to mental illness and how to draw the line between “Beeminder is keeping me on task through hard days” and “I legitimately need to take a sick day.”

My problem is, I think, a fairly common one: I am capable of pushing myself through essentially anything, even when it is to my detriment, so there isn’t an obvious case like “I have 105 degree fever and cannot sit up”.

I think I’d have an easier time drawing a line but, ironically, scrupulousity means obsessing about whether I’m being honest in any such distinction.



I personally am very strict with myself on this, especially since two of my most important goals are simply sleeping 7 hrs/night and eating 2 proper meals a day. My other goals either are trivial enough to complete, or I have enough of a buffer on that so any derailing for me would be legit. For me, if feeling bad was an excuse I’d hardly do anything

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Well I mean that’s my point: my problem is less “oh is it okay to derail because I ‘feel bad’” because, yes, I too basically always feel bad.

My problem is that I’m trying to figure out how I don’t Simone Weil myself by being so unforgiving that it’s self destructive.

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One approach could be making your goals generally easier, as cam hinted at. Think about which goals would be nearly as effective if they just got you started, and weren’t so hard-core regarding how much you actually do. You can create goals like this in two ways:

  1. Commit to doing a very small amount per period. This results in goals that are very easy to get ahead on, so using the automatic safety buffer trimming feature in the Bee Plus / Beemium plans makes it work better.
  2. Instead of committing to an amount, commit to just getting started. For instance, instead of committing to walking 3 hours a week, commit to taking 3 walks per week which are at least 10 minutes in length. You’d report by entering a value of 1 when you take a qualifying walk, instead of entering the actual length of the walk.

Also, you could consider having some goals be pledge-based, where you enter a zero datapoint at the beginning of the day with the amount you want to do in the comment field, and then update the value to one when you’ve met your pledge. This results in Beeminder ensuring that you meet n pledges per week, but would leave it up to you how much you pledge on any given day.

Related: Beemind Easy Things

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Sorry, I feel pedantic responding like this and I don’t want to seem unappreciative of responses but I feel like my actual question just hasn’t been coming across so I want to rephrase again.

My question isn’t “how do you make beeminder easier when you’re mentally ill” it’s “how do other people with chronic mental illness/disability figure out the line of what counts as a ‘sick day’ and what’s Beeminder helpfully providing a counterpoint to the distortions of the mental illness”.

Obviously there is a line, right? I doubt @dreev is interested in taking the money of someone who’s made an attempt that day or is experiencing a flare-up of reality-breaking psychosis. So, yeah, I’m really curious how other people figure out what the line is without losing the effectiveness of Beeminder. It’s a pretty nuanced question, I know.


i was trying to answer that, for me i just say there are no sick days unless something catastrophic happens, like i literally end up in a hospital.
like with my 750 words goal, sometimes my chronic pain makes it excruciating to type on a computer, or my post-concussion symptoms make it hard to look at a screen. On those days, i just use a safe day or i dictate (thusfar, i have dictated)

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Ah! Fair enough. Sorry I misinterpreted how you meant “feeling bad” and thought we were talking past each other.


Tough call - I deal with this too. There are two ways (at least) to deal with this:

  1. Keep your pledge cap low and just have a strict rule: if you don’t do the task, you have to pay the pledge, illness or not. This helps me out because I have to take responsibility, and it weakens the temptation to feel helpless and incapable and blame the illness (this temptation is itself a thought distortion caused by the mental illness), but the pledge is low so it doesn’t cost me too much when there was legitimately nothing else I could do.


  1. Or, you can just look back and ask whether you think you dealt with the day in the healthiest way for you. Were you genuinely in need of a day off, and was your decision to take a “sick day” the best for you? If so, it’s not a legit derailment. Or, did you end up feeling worse because you didn’t get out of bed to do something? If so, it was a legit derailment. There’s no simple test for this - just your guess.

It’s not obvious to me that there is a line - I would imagine this varies from person to person.

And if setting up a strict rule (with limited pledge cap) helps people feel better and get more done on the other days, then I would guess dreev has no problem taking someone’s money on the few days they had a mental illness flare-up.

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