I Can’t Do Anything Because of Depression – Or Can I?

I Can’t Do Anything Because of Depression – Or Can I?

I so often feel like I can’t do anything because of depression. Look at the top photo. That is my life. I have had that objet cluttered and dusty for maybe years. It’s just one of the things in my apartment that I look at and see as failure. I see that I can’t do anything. I see that I can’t even clean up a small amount of clutter – clutter that can be found in so many corners of my apartment and life. Depression makes it so that I can’t do anything. However, while I feel this quite strongly, it may not, in fact, be entirely true.

What Can’t I Do Because of Depression?

What can’t I do? Oh, mostly the normal stuff that people take for granted. And going beyond that? What a crazy notion that is.

So when it comes time to do anything, I just can’t. Off and on this means:

  • I can’t cook for myself.
  • I can’t make important phone calls / send important emails.
  • I can’t clean.
  • I can’t finish painting the walls of my apartment (this is a big one).
  • I can’t take a shower.
  • I can’t leave the apartment.

And so on and so on and so on. When I say I can’t do anything because of depression, I mean anything and everything. And as I look around my apartment and I see evidence of not being able to do things, I just see failure. Failure everywhere.

Why Can’t I Do Anything Because of Depression?

I’ve talked about this before. All my energy goes into work so I can make a living but then I have none left for me. If you’re familiar with the Spoon Theory, you’ll know what I mean when I say I just run out of spoons.

You only have a set amount of energy and motivation when you wake up in the morning and I don’t have enough. This means I wear out long before the day is done. I wear out miles before the finish line. Of all the things I want to do in a day, I only get half done. And, of course, this means that the undone things get transferred to the next day. But the next day has its own needs. And so, the list of things I need to do is endless and impossible. Because I can’t do all these things, I feel like I can’t do anything.

It is because of depression symptoms that I can’t do these things but depression also makes me feel worse about it because it clings to negative emotions like that of failure.

But Can I Really Do Things in Spite of Depression?

With depression, it feels like you can't do anything. But can you really not do anything or does it just feel that way?I tend to discount all the things I do at work, as they are simply the price of admission. I need to work. So I work. This is a simple concept that I have had throughout my life.

I do myself credit for the number of hours I put in. I hate small numbers and like bigger ones. I’m not sure if that’s a way of feeling satisfied when things are better or that’s a way of beating myself up when things aren’t good enough.

But I do it. I should get credit for that.

And I admit it, all those things on the list above, I just can’t do because of depression. Don’t get me wrong, on occasion I might so some of those things, but it’s rare.

But, are there things I really can do in spite of depression? Yes, there are.

  • I bought a couch, arranged to get rid of my old one (with the help of a friend) and cleaned before the new couch arrived.
  • I take care of my cats – every day all day.
  • I do even what I hate – like videos. (Not enough of them, of course, but I do my best. My latest one is here and my HealthyPlace playlist is here.)
  • I vacuumed my carpet two weekends in a row. (This is a big deal for me.)

So even though I look around and see failure, if I can just take off the depression glasses for a moment, I should be able to look around and see wins as well. This is very hard to do as depression glasses are heavy and sticky, but occasionally I get a glimpse.

Credit for Doing Anything with Depression

As I said, there are wins here. But I ignore them. I take them for granted because I know that other people can do them easily and I feel bad about how hard I have to work to get them done. The idea that “I can’t do anything” because of the things I can’t do always rattles around in my brain instead of saying “I can do some things.” I know this is the wrong way of looking at it, but depression is so very convincing.

I Challenge You If You Think You Can’t Do Anything Because of Depression

So I give you and myself a challenge: Can you focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t? Can you give yourself credit for the little things you do? Can you treat yourself gently and forgive yourself for having a disability? Can you not judge yourself for not being able to do what other people do?

I hope you can. I hope I can.

Image by Flickr user Steven Depolo.

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About Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.

Natasha’s New Book

Find more of Natasha’s work in her new book: Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. Media inquiries can be emailed here.

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