It seems ironic to sit down and write this post on how to get things done amidst depression when I have kept avoiding this post and putting it off for the past couple of weeks. How am I supposed to share with others the secrets to being motivated and knocking things off your to-do list when I myself am struggling to do that very thing? I write anyway.
Depression often feels like a powerful force sapping me of not only my hope and energy, but my motivation too. Whether it’s a creative project, plans with a friend, a blog post, or a prescription waiting for me at the store, I ruminate on how I actually can’t do the task ahead. Like a leech, my depression begins to pull any sense of confidence and ability I have out of my body until I am left feeling empty, alone, and incapable.
Suddenly, a task becomes a giant, insurmountable feat that requires too much of me. I can’t focus. I can’t get out of bed. I can’t put my shoes on and get in my car and just do the thing. Starting is the hardest part, and depression knows this. It makes me sincerely believe that every item on my to-do list, every chore, and every project, is not in my realm of possibility. And so I lay in my bed and wallow in the feelings.
I feel like I’m pathetic, that I wish I were better than this.
Why am I like this? Why can’t I do this? Why, why, why?
Despite my depression, I consider myself an extremely high-functioning person -- except when I’m not. The days I can’t be my normal productive, motivated, energetic self are jarring. Such a stark contrast from who I know I am at my core. It makes me feel like I’m going backward in my recovery. Like all the progress fades away when a bad day comes and drowns me like a wave. Then a good day appears again, and I have to do the frustrating work of rebuilding my sense of motivation, independence, and self-esteem.
I sadly don’t have the secret of how to get things done with depression. What I do know is that a small action can be the one thing that leads to a chain of more actions. If I can just pull myself out of bed and wash my face, maybe the next step will become easier. If I can just pull up an empty Google doc and write my stream of consciousness, maybe the next word will come. If I can just check one thing off my to-do list, maybe I’ll be inspired to do the next thing.
Like a bully’s words that leak into your soul, depression’s ruthlessness can immobilize me in the blink of an eye. Sometimes, fighting it is too hard. Defending myself is too hard. And yet, it continues to throw sticks and stones, whispering words that will always hurt me.
Baby steps. Grace. That’s what I think of when I hear “How to get things done with depression.” Can I remember them when everything seems impossible to do? I try to.
Can we still be worthy, purposeful, competent, skillful, and beautiful people, regardless of the things we fail to get done when in the depths of depression? I think so.
Connect with other people who are living with depression by joining our Depression Facebook Support Group.
Photo Credit: Kittiphan Teerawattanakul / EyeEm via Getty Images
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