No, Karen, I Am Not Lazy. I Am Depressed
How Depression Affects Motivation: A Rant
Let me start off by telling you a little bit of my struggle with mental illness. It started when I was about 12 years old. I was in middle school. I didn't know much of anything about mental illness. All I knew was that I was sad a lot. I felt out of place constantly and I thought about wanting to die a lot. I thought it was normal, because hormonal preteen... These feelings continued throughout high school, and even got worse after the death of my father. I tried my hardest to hide it from everyone. I started self-harming. Then my senior year I swallowed my medicine cabinet. Didn't do anything other than make me sick. However, I did follow puking with mentioning what I did to my cousin on the old Myspace. She called my sister who called my mom. It got worse. Now, not only was I un-diagnosed depressed, and having panic attacks when I didn't even know what panic attacks were, I was also being told how selfish and disappointing I was by every member of my family. Nobody offered real help, just criticism. Fast forward to close to 10 years later, still suffering, still suicidal, still panicking, yet I had a boyfriend who knew more about mental health than me, and tried to help. Even to the point it was hurting his own mental health... He convinced me to get help when it got to the point he didn't want me cooking dinner when he wasn't home, because he didn't trust me with the knives and was scared he'd come home from work to find me with my wrists cut. So I saw a therapist, then a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with Sever Major Depressive Disorder and General Anxiety. I was put on medication and life got a bit more manageable. For once, I felt a little bit more normal; I still had my lows, but fuck if life wasn't better.
Being on meds for a few years now, things are better, but not perfect. I still get depressive episodes pretty regularly, but they are not usually as debilitating and I'm proud to say I haven't self-harmed in quite some time. However, I will tell you one of the things that comes up a lot with my depression, especially right now since I am unemployed due to my mental health at my last job (that's something on its own, let me tell you...). The one aspect of my depression that gets the most frustrating for me is the lack of motivation, and the lack of focus. When I'm depressed I cannot stay motivated to save my life and I think this is the most difficult aspect of it for me. Even more so than the days, weeks, or months I don't get out of bed. Which has a lot to do with motivation anyways... But one thing about me is that I love to craft, read, paint, sew, and write. They are the things that make me happiest. I enjoy being alone with a movie, or music, and project. But without the motivation to do anything, I don't do anything, even when I really want to.
Take for instance that for the past week or so all I've wanted to do is paint. I have an empty space on my wall I want to fill with a canvas or two... I even have ideas for what I want to paint, but zero motivation to do so. The thought of having to get everything out and then have to clean up after makes it a task not worth doing. Even just picking up colored pencils off my bed is such a damn chore. So I just sit and watch TV and chain vape, because that motivation just isn't there.
I think this aspect of depression is something that people don't often understand. They know it's there... It's listed in all the Zoloft commercials. “Are you not finding joy in activities you once loved?” Fucking yes!! I am not finding joy in anything because I don't have the damn motivation to do anything—yes, even the things I know will make happier. I just don't want to do them. I don't have any drive to do them. Which makes you feel worse since you feel dumb for letting a simple task such as cleaning up after keep you from doing what you love. But people don't understand how that requires energy that you just don't have, which makes your motivation to actually do it disappear completely. Which just looks like laziness to a person who does not suffer from depression. Which doesn't help the cycle of depression, because then you feel like a failure for not being able to do something so simple and that you love and want to do.
Well if you want to do it then you should have the motivation to do it, they tell me. False. Just cause you want to do something does not mean you are motivated to do it. Because motivation takes energy. Energy is not a common factor to someone who is depressed. To me that seems completely understandable, but it seems that so many people cannot grasp this concept.
So no, Karen, I am not lazy. I'm fucking depressed!