Mental Health

Paralyzed: Fear, Hopelessness, and Productivity when Battling Depression

When I was younger, my mom used to call me lazy. I only put forth effort when it was absolutely needed and never did anything more. I would put off doing household chores as much as I could without getting into trouble. Chores seemed so insignificant to me. Busy work. Pointless activities that took up too much time and effort.

I believed my mom when she called me lazy. But I wasn’t really lazy. I was depressed.

Depression is so much more than just feeling sad. It also involves gut-wrenching despair and hopelessness that paralyzes you. It is like having a 100-ton anchor in the center of your chest that keeps you planted firmly in bed, unable to escape. Nothing seems worth the effort. Having clean clothes or a clean body seem so pointless when your depression tells you that you aren’t worth the water and soap.

Doing even the most basic things all humans must do to survive seems like shoving hot fireplace pokers into your heart. Work is out of the question. Do you have bills due? A deadline to make? Fuck you, says your depression. You are not worth the energy it would take to work, and you deserve all the horrible things that come with failing to keep up with your adult responsibilities.

Photo by Ninian Reid, used under Creative Commons, via Flickr

This, of course, leads others to see you in an unflattering light. Your boss and co-workers deem you unreliable, even expendable. Your family members only aid you because they feel like they have to because you are family. Your friends stop helping you because it always seems like you need just a little more help all the time. Some of these may not be true, but it doesn’t matter to depression. It’ll make you think all these things, only driving you deeper into despair.

Some will look at you and wonder why you simply can’t get over it and do what you need to do to survive. Buckle down, put your nose to the grindstone. You’d love to. You know your situation. But you can’t because you are paralyzed. And they cannot fathom that. It is too difficult to wrap their head around. “Why can’t you do what you need to do? Are you dumb?” The hurtful words only make it worse.

So what can you do if your depression has affected you, as it has me, and prevented you from getting your life in order? I know what I need to do. Get help. I most likely will require lots of therapy and medication. My biggest fear, becoming a burden to my friends and family, has come true and it makes me feel even more like shit. I’ve cost loved ones so much and I can’t even show them the respect of actually putting forth the effort to improve. I need the help of others to survive, but it is hard to find someone with enough empathy and understanding to tolerate me until I receive the medical help I need.

If you feel like the things you have to do to have even the most basic things of life taken care are just too much, just remember it is not you. It is your depression keeping you from functioning. You are not lazy. You are not dumb. You need help. Sadly, most people won’t understand. You’ll have to endure that, and it is difficult to do. But seek help. Go to a doctor. Get medication and therapy. Do what you need to do to get that anchor off your chest and thrive again.

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