Some of my friends know that I have clinical depression. For the most part I have it licked; I was on medication for a couple years while I learned how to deal with it. Now I occasionally go through some bad patches but they usually don’t go on for longer than a week. I’ve learned that if I just wait them out they’ll pass. I had been stuck in one for all of January which finally broke last Saturday.
Something people often don’t understand about depression is how it impedes your ability to get simple, important things done. Even when depressed if you have a gun to your head you can usually do just about anything required of you but there never really is a gun held to you head. Frankly you can probably do the laundry tomorrow when you might feel better. Today you just feel terrible.
Used to be I couldn’t get much of anything done. I couldn’t go grocery shopping, I couldn’t take care of our pets, I couldn’t get my bills paid even though I had the money. This month I could take care of the bills mostly. I could go grocery shopping because we’re pretty thoroughly resolved not to go out to eat during the week. I could take care of the pets because I’ve seen how much happier they’ve been when I’m taking care of things properly. The laundry had been piling up on the floor and the dishes piling up in the sink because I just couldn’t muster the will to take care of them. Saturday it broke, I felt great, and I knocked those things out. Overall this bad patch wasn’t as bad as they’ve been in the past but it was much longer for reasons unknown.
I was explaining the situation to a friend and he had a hard time understanding lacking the will to take care of these basic, small things. He did acknowledge that there was a reason for it but that he didn’t have the experience to wrap his head around it.
Eventually I thought of away to explain it that I hadn’t really thought of before. If you’ve ever been exposed to a motivational speaker or anyone similar you’ve probably heard something to the effect of: If you have the will to succeed, the size of the challenge doesn’t matter. The idea here being that the challenge can be very, very large but the will to succeed will make you overcome the challenge. Here’s another version that is also true: If you lack the will to succeed, the size of the challenge doesn’t matter. In this case the challenge can be very, very small but lacking the will to succeed will make it insurmountable.
Depression robs you of your ability to try, even things you’re good at and you know can succeed at.