lazy good for nothings?
I can’t be the only depression sufferer who has always believed themself to be lazy and without self-discipline. Ready to act, to change, to do important things, yes: pumped up and determined. But somehow incapable of doing anything much when push comes to shove. No wonder we feel useless and worthless.
It’s the depression doing this. Depression takes our motivation and our initiative – of course we struggle to get stuff done. A vicious circle then: we are low, so we can’t do the things that help us feel better, so we feel worse. Rinse and repeat.
kindness and cunning
To break the cycle requires a mixture of kindness and cunning – a way of manoeuvring ourselves into situations whereby the easiest, most likely-to-happen option is also the most helpful. This takes self-knowledge, self-love and ninja tactics. I’m not talking about simple tricks like breaking tasks down into tiny, manageable, undaunting pieces, or going to bed in your running kit (if you want to go for a run first thing in the morning – no need to do this otherwise). I’m talking about what to do when that stuff no longer works.
So, for example:
- your house is a mess but you just can’t bring yourself to tidy up? Invite a nosey friend/colleague/neighbour round for coffee tomorrow – and let the emergency housework commence.
- can’t face going to that party you thought would be fun when you accepted the invitation? (Actually, it may be too late now, but when you accepted the invitation, knowing you ALWAYS go off the idea nearer the time, you needed to arrange to take somebody – somebody who now is relying on you to get them there, and who you would hate to let down.)
- exercise makes you feel better but you can’t get out of the door to go for a walk/run/cycle ride? Having a dog you love is useful here – you won’t want to deprive them of their walk unless you are in a really bad way. Or, some people find success through a public commitment to do a certain race or event, preferably sponsored, and fear of humiliation/coronary failure on the day is enough to ensure at least some training happens beforehand. In my case, I recently headed for Scotland on my bike with the dog and a tent having told everyone we would be gone for three months.
You probably need to be feeling reasonably OK to do these. Paradoxically, the time to work hardest on recovery is when you are well, which is when you are most capable of building helpful behaviours and habits into your life.
The five key components of this approach are:
- Understand which bits of your behaviour are probably down to the depression and which are not (and don’t judge the depression bits.)
- Know what usually motivates you to do difficult things. (For example, in my case it’s trying to avoid people thinking badly of me.)
- Know what usually makes you feel better (these things, perhaps.)
- Use this self-knowledge and understanding to devise cunning plans which harness the power of whatever usually motivates you, to do things which usually make you feel better.
- If a plan doesn’t work, tweak it till it does or make a new plan – no recriminations.