Depressed and Waiting for Motivation to Arrive

I always keep a table reserved for motivation when I’m trying to get better, trying to work or trying to do pretty much anything. He’s supposed to be here at my command, but the idiot is always late.

While waiting for the no-show, I get distracted by daydreaming, dog walking, snacking, emailing, mulling things over, sky watching, desk cleaning, web surfing and a dozen other things that suddenly demand attention. I wind up feeling scattered, frustrated and depressed – all because of the missing motivation.

All too often, that’s the way my day goes. I don’t feel right and can’t finish anything. Yesterday, though, I listened to an interview with Julie Fast about how she gets through a day of depression. She has a way of waking me up with a few gallons of cold water over my head.

“Motivation is a myth,” she claims. And that clicks. When you’re depressed, she explains, you’re never going to feel motivated. Depression keeps inventing reasons why you can’t do anything, why you should give in to the need to be alone and shut everyone out. If you wait until you feel motivated to do something, you won’t get it done.

I get that. A day of depression is a shapeless mass you never get hold of. No goal is worthwhile, planning is pointless and often a catatonic, trance-like state seems so attractive. That’s where depression takes me while I’m waiting for the right feeling and motivation to arrive.

Whether reading Julie Fast’s book, Get It Done When You’re Depressed, or listening to her talk, I’m always struck by the energy and action she embodies. How can she be depressed when she’s constantly talking about doing, structuring, getting out of the house, making the most of every hour, acting as your own drill sergeant to keep you going? Who can do all that when really depressed?

Yet in listening more closely to what she says and how she says it, I can also hear an edge of almost desperate determination. She has to try to speed things up, force herself into action, do things she doesn’t in the least want to do because she’s fighting depression 24 hours a day. If she lets her guard down, she knows she’ll be overwhelmed and just stop. As she says, what are the choices? Hospital, suicide or forcing herself to refuse to give in. So with every bit of energy and determination she can muster, she tries to fight back. It’s hard, endless and often frustrating.

It’s about knowing your limits and not trying to take on the world all at once. Doing whatever you can do, no matter how bad you feel, is the basic idea. Taking one small step – like getting out of bed – can be a huge accomplishment because taking that one step can lead to another, then another. What she finds is that by playing the role of a well person, she starts to feel better and think more positively.

Trying to change her mindset or mood before taking action doesn’t work. Instead, her outlook begins to improve only after forcing herself to start the day. She also relies on a structure that limits the time she can spend on any one thing, just as a child needs structure for the school day, as she puts it. That’s how she can function.

Not everyone will find her strategies a good fit, but following through on any action-oriented strategy that works for you is the basis of her approach. And she’s not alone in emphasizing action over purely cognitive strategies.

Michael Yapko puts it a little differently in Breaking the Patterns of Depression. You can have all the motivation in the world, but motivation doesn’t mean much if you don’t learn new skills to deal with the specific symptoms of your depression.

As he puts it, all effective therapy is about learning and actively using new skills rather than defining problems. The orientation is toward a future vision of the life you want, not the painful past you already know. It’s about practical solutions and breaking self-destructive patterns of living right now, not about unearthing unconscious motives.

Like Julie Fast, he emphasizes the critical importance of action because depression is all about inaction, about not doing, avoiding. If you force yourself, you will start to feel better simply by activating your body and mind.

Avoidance of the experiences and situations that are most troubling is a major cause of depression, according to Steven Hayes, originator of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT. This is another approach that points you away from analyzing problems and toward direct action to change the way you live. The workbook for this method is appropriately titled Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life.

My tendency has been to avoid the situations that seem impossible to handle when I’m depressed, especially those that require talking to a group of people or going into an unfamiliar situation. But the ACT approach says that avoiding never helps you to feel better but only to dwell on feeling bad about yourself. The idea is to accept what you want to avoid and start to practice ways of adapting and returning to that aspect of living.

As Fast and Yapko do, Hayes identifies specific methods to get started with small steps, gradually building the skills to get past each activity you feel is impossible. Pick one thing you want to avoid, prepare for taking it on, then start by trying to do it for just five minutes, let’s say, gradually lengthening the time you spend.

To make this work, Hayes emphasizes the importance of spending time getting clear about what you value and what you need to do to live those values for the kind of life you want. Then the skill building and action take on new meaning as a way of confronting what you struggle with so you can reclaim your life.

I suppose all these approaches come back to motivation, and that comes from envisioning yourself as restored to a fulfilling life once again. If you can be clear about that, the hope is that you’ll keep that vision alive. It’s the purpose behind fighting so hard to face what you’ve believed you can’t handle.

That’s hard to do. I can’t count the times I’ve backed out of dealing with those situations, but I have to agree this strategy hasn’t helped for long. And waiting for the strength and motivation to take it on has proved useless over and over again.

What’s your experience? Has this idea of forcing yourself into action awakened a new energy – of has it simply been impossible?

Image by John Althouse Cohen

109 Responses to “Depressed and Waiting for Motivation to Arrive”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Simran says:

    I read half of it and i am starting to feel better. It is written so good that we all share diff patterns and specific symptoms of depression. I also suffer from disablity of taking action. We need to force ourself to work and get out of our mind no matter how attractive this states look of rethinking and mind looks.
    I am glad that atleast we people share this common symptom and are able to express and get guided.
    God bless all. 🙂

  2. Noel says:

    Anyone still reading posts in 2028? Motivation is such a big topic and I appreciate the shared experience. I wake up with overwhelming anxiety over the responsibilities I am procrastinating over and sometimes take a benzo to alleviate pain and drift off
    Not a solution but a tempting escape

  3. Mandy says:

    I’m female, 54 and have years of long periods of depression, but in some ways harder when depression lifts but left with feeling nothing. And searching for answers to find motivation. I go online and read blogs etc from people with depression. Just to feel that i can identify with someone. Based on the internet, there appears to be millions of people everywhere in the same situation. But it just doesn’t feel like that in my day to day life. I feel like I’m the only one. I watch people getting on with their lives. And with their struggles, but i don’t know of anyone crippled and isolated by depression. Is there anyone who would like to email each other as mutual support. I am interested to know how others live with long term depression and lack of motivation. Just to get to know each other, and talk to someone that actually understands.

    • Helen says:

      Im 53 almost 54 female going through the same thing. Tried to get help but docs are clueless and useless. My regular doc left town. I dont see any point telling my story over and over again to apathetic ‘professionals’ waste of my time, and i refuse to take meds. Just want to snap out of it but dont know how.

    • Mags says:

      Hi Mandy

      I struggle with crippling depression too.In fact, I’m stuck in bed now feeling guilty, brooding about my problems and watching life pass me by. I always thought an accountability partner might help. Someone I could communicate with and update on our progress and offer mutual support and encouragement.Let me know if you would be interested or any other depression sufferer would like to email me daily or weekly to check in on how we’re doing and report on any progress( getting out of bed on a bad day can be a victory. exercising, eating well. working on projects etc. ) we’ve made in our daily lives and maybe I can find an inspirational quote too!

      • Mandy says:

        Hi mags, im Mandy too, iv read a few messages from people with depression, and would love to be and give support, and just share the daily battle. Iv had depression so long my family don’t want to hear anymore. I’m 55 next week. I have a 27 year old son. Been single most of my life. Don’t work, due to depression and physical illness. I live in Fife Scotland. Where do you live. I can really relate to what you said. And it would be nice to talk to someone regular, that really actually understands. Yourself and the othet mandy, you can email me at sonicjazmin [at] yahoo [dot] com I look forward to hearing from you. Mandy

        • Eagle says:

          Hi,
          My name is Eagle, I’m from Sydney Australia. I’m soon to be 31, married and have a beautiful son Elijah who is almost 2, my life with him and my husband is beyond wonderful and I have never been this happy.
          On my other half I have suffered from anxiety and depression, I have spoken to doctors and psychologists, it’s mostly just talk. Over these last 15 years I haven’t had real friends. I’m scared. I understand if you don’t reply, this is my first time reaching out to someone online.

        • Estelle says:

          Just saw your article. Maybe now, hopefully, you are not depressed. I am and have been for over 2 years. I live in Glasgow so thought it would be nice to hear from someone in the same cointry

    • kathy says:

      My Husband is 74 years old, we thought he had Dementia, but he doesn’t, he had depression , I ask him “Are you Still Depressed?” he says, “no”, then why don’t you feel motivated to do anything? He was always a very active man, but now he sits in front of the tv all day long, he literally does not do anything, I have to do everything!! I get very frustrated, because my husband is in good health. I have taken him to the ER and the doctor so many times to see what is wrong and they cannot find anything. He did have constipation but now this is better, but in his mind something is wrong with his intestines although the doctors have told him his ct scan and ultrasounds came out normal. He only thinks about himself all the time, when he thinks about me it is because he does not like for me to leave him by himself. I can’t go to see our children, he doesn’t want to go, I can’t see my grandchildren it goes on and on etc…. I feel like he is taking my life that I have left away from me. Is anyone else going through this or am I all alone?

    • Katie says:

      Mandy, I am feeling so many of the same things as you! I’d love to keep in touch if you’d still be interested in doing so. I’m receiving notifications for any replies to this comment so shoot me a quick comment if you’d like and we can work out contact info! I hope you’re doing well, Mandy.

      Take care,

      Katie Jenkins

    • Mandy says:

      Hi Mandy, I’m Mandy too. I came across this page. And the messages from you and mags really stuck out for me. I really identify with what you said. I would love to email regular as a means of support to each other. I don’t know anyone that has depression, and it would be so nice to share our experiences. And get to know each other. I’m 54, don’t work. I have a 27 yr old son. Although I’ve been single most of my life. I live in Fife Scotland. Where do you live. You can email me at sonicjazmin [at] yahoo [dot] com hope to hear back soon. Mandy

  4. Bilbo says:

    many of these suggestions sound promising and may work for some… But i find that when i am depressed, distractions don’t miraculously release me from the lethargy. I don’t know how it works, but i will go weeks sometimes months in a depressive state and can’t get anything done. That initiates a negative feedback – the less I do the less motivated i become and the depression deepens. Then suddenly, without warning, or as far as I can tell without any trigger, my motivation returns and productivity increases. Productivity lifts my spirits and produces a positive feedback – the better I feel the more i accomplish. Eventually and without warning, the depression returns and i repeat the cycle. I don’t know how or why depression controls me this way, but I really wish I could understand it and then maybe identify ways to better cope and avoid those months of deep dark pain.

    • Mandy says:

      Hi bill, i totally feel the same way. Tried looking for answers through books and internet. I think wen my depression lifts it’s wen I feel hope about something. An idea will come to my mind that brings hope that triggers motivation. NOT all the time tho. For example, i badly need to be walking. But won’t go out, or keep it up. From somewhere i thought about hiring a treadmill, so i did. It worked great (for a while) created a plan, how many times a day, how to gradually increase it until i could walk for a fair distance outside, so i had a goal. But wasn’t the success i imagined, and lost heart. I. Just put a post up if that’s what you call it. Instead of just talking randomly to whoever is on, I wud like to email anyone for mutual support. And to share thoughts fears, hopes and experiences to try to get to know others that actually understand.

      • Kevin says:

        Guys, I feel for you.. I have come a long way in this struggle. I never thought I would have considered myself “healed.” But I am functioning and enjoying life again. Never thought I would. But I have found out that there is just not one answer or one treatment that is needed. For me it was meds.. counseling (and fighting the right counselor is really important). It’s finding things I like to do.. like hiking/camping. Reading fiction; JOURNALING!!! This is the best for me. My relationship with God has been very important to me walking (more like crawling) out of this depression. find out what works for you. Make a written list. Make it as long as you need it to be. I think that the longer the list the better. Then when you are down/depressed. Take out that list.. go down the list until you find something that lifts your mood a little. One of my was just to fake smile and make myself hold it for 5 minutes. Sometimes I would make myself laugh ridiculously loud. The list goes on. You will make it.

      • Noel says:

        Hello all and Maggie,
        Thank you for posting. unfortunately my journey brought me to multiple hospitalizations and one suicide attempt over my marriage.dilemma.
        When I had a job to return to I kept going. When I retired and children grew up, I lost purpose and settled into the depressed lifestyle that at 66 seems so hard to break through. like many of us self esteem and confidence are at a real low and engaging in a healthy lifestyle seems so difficult.
        Thank you all for sharing and hope to contribute positive sport in the future. Excercise helps but I wish I enjoyed it rather than suc an obligation. Good luck to all.

      • Noel says:

        Hi Mandy
        So relate to your posts. Exercise definitely helps with depression-probably more evidence for that than medication. Hope you are walking as I plan to push myself in 2018 to do some excercise every day. I suffer severe depression with my only break coming at night as I know the struggle will be abating as sleep thankfully approaches. At 66 I wish I had a job that provided routine and socialization.
        Best wishes and success in our common struggle

  5. Chris says:

    I can relate to so many of these posts. I am now retired and it is even harder to make myself do anything. I either can’t think of anything I want to do or get overwhelmed by thinking of all the things I need to do. The only thing I truly enjoy is sleeping. I do make myself get up. My son lives with me and I managed to move to Florida but my back has gone the last two years and injections haven’t helped much. It is really bad and I can’t do things I like so that hasn’t helped. I thought I would probably die right if I ever got to retire. Now I have the back problem which is kind of the same. I hate myself for not being motivated. I avoid all people except my son to the point of not even wanting the plumbers or roofers come fix my house or avoiding doctor’s appointments. I can go grocery shopping and once in a while a little shopping but then I want the solitary confinement of my home; to drift off into stream of consciousness and avoid any responsibility. Note: I worked 40 years in healthcare, have a masters degree and was a late single mother. I have no idea how I did that. My home is paid and my credit score is 827. Who did all that? I remember how painfully slow the time used to go and how quickly it goes now. Life is very strange.

    • Kevin says:

      Chris,

      So glad you texted out. There are answers for your situation. You have to keep searching until your find what works for you. I spent years looking for the answers and finally….. I started finally started finding pieces pig the puzzle. I thought for the longest time that there was just one key…. only to find out it took a multi piece approach.

      I take meds. See a counselor when I need to. Pray. Journal. Developed some hobbies (mine is now hiking and backpacking. I do a little bit of stretching and exercise most days. Church is a good outlet for me (helps meet the social part of my life).
      I also use a timer on my phone to make myself work on a project for 5-15 minutes at a time.

      So… don’t stop looking for what works for you. The internet is such a wonderful search for answers.

  6. Damian says:

    I’ve definitely been through the lot. Finding myself running away from friends and family, feeling ashamed of myself for my failures in the past. I’ve gotten sick all over the interior of my car from anxiety, skipped 3 weeks of college classes for no explainable reason, always late on my schedules, extremely sleep deprived most of the time, hardly clean myself, often only do it when another complains how I smell or something horrible like that. Lacking motivation and constantly begging the question,’Why am I doing this and what is the purpose behind any action I take?’.

    Tomorrow morning (2 hours from now in fact) I have a consultation meeting with my lecturer to formulate some kind of catchup plan for my studies. I have no idea how to explain myself or even how I will get myself to commit to such a thing. I’m so embarrassed. My pride has been dashed. I know I came to the right place and after reading each and every comment after this article I now know I am not alone in this, that at least gives me comfort. I also know now that there are others that, even being depressed, wish to seek a cure of some sort, an action plan, a remedy, anything to revive hope.

    One of the most important points I found was that of a sporadic motivator. It’s fine to find yourself forcing yourself out of bed and fighting depression all day 24/7 telling yourself, ‘ACT!’ Or maybe,’something today rather than nothing forever.’ But to then tire out and fall back into old habits.

    I know each and everyone of you here reading and posting here are looking for help in some kind of way and so am I. It would be wonderful to have some kind of method or miracle cure. But what if I slip again, fall down again. How do I pick myself up and ignore the all the negative thoughts of myself that keep putting me down further and further each time because each time it happens it gets more painful. As if depression is trying to cement itself into my life.

    The only person alive aware of my mental state is my mother and all I do is frustrate her with my negative perspectives but I don’t blame her. Ive dropped out of university after 3 years of studies wasting a ton of my families money. We are financially secure but no riches at that, I seriously let the family down on that one and now I’m doing it again with my new college. Searching for happiness at the expense of everything around me. I’m expected to be professional during this consultation with 4 hours sleep in the past 30 or so hours. I’d rather stay up reading and typing, watching or listening than have tomorrow arrive so abruptly as I feel unprepared to face my depressions and the great life that supposedly be holds itself out there in the world.

    I could ramble on and on for days and days and get nowhere with this. I really like the idea of being my own seargent commanding myself to act and take action instead of waiting for motivation. The walking uphill instead of a flat path also sounds quite nice. The sensation of achievement that has eluded me for so long seams to reside there. I’m only 23 years old but feel like my life is over already. I came here seeking coping mechanisms instead of escaping tactics.

    I was contemplating skipping the meeting tomorrow entirely which would almost definitely see me dropping out of college again. But I feel with this method I can take action and get it done. I just hope I have the energy to do it agin tomorrow. And then again and again for however long I live for. I guess that’s the hardest part. I often struggle foreseeing myself in the future, not even one or two days ahead.

    To those who read this far I just want to give a huge thanks, it goes to show that you care, either about me or yourself as you can relate. I just wanted to add my 2 cents to the magic pond and make a wish. May you keep hope alive.

    • Meri says:

      I hope you made it to the meeting. Reading your post I thought of a Woody Allen quote, “Showing up is 80 percent of life.” It’s hard beyond description some days, but we do.

    • Kevin says:

      Damian,

      Thanks for sharing with us your struggle. For me there seems to be some release in putting my feelings down in writing. So many times I wish I didn’t feel every thing that came my way. But then I think that there might be an advantage.
      There are so many people that aren’t in touch with those deep currents within. It seems that in order to heal, you’ve got to feel.
      You are young. So good to look and find these answers at this time rather when you are older. You’ll find those answers and be able to enjoy your life.

      Keep in touch and let us know how you are doing.

    • AlwaysAnxious says:

      It makes perfect sense to me! I hide it from people as well because I don’t think they’d understand and just think I’m lazy or “unwilling to help myself”!
      Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be normal and how I came to be like this?
      Damian I’m curious as to how you are now? Did you make it to your meeting?

    • Lisa says:

      Damian
      My heart goes out to you and I hope you are feeling better. I have a couple of questions:
      1. Have you picked a major you enjoy – not just one you feel you “should”?
      2. Have you considered leaving college, as least for awhile? Maybe it’s not the thing to do, at least for now.

      I’m a professor who has had multiple major depressive episodes. Still struggle with anxiety and milder depression, which can put me into a viscous cycle of not working hard enough (avoidance), anxiety, and depression. And I’ve tried to help students that have challenges not unlike yours. It’s heartbreaking to watch them struggle. I’d like to be able to do more for them, but not sure what the right thing is.

  7. Kevin says:

    Hey guys, I just want to give an update on how I am doing lately. Well.. I big change.. It actually has been gradual.. but here it is basically. I have started hiking. Started slow and little at first and now I am really into it. I have found that because I am hiking that it is making me feel better physically. I am now finding myself with much more motivation. I even have been working on my own car again.. which I have not done in years.. I am not 100% but I am finding myself have motivation that I have not had in years.. and it started out with just a small amount of hiking.

  8. Irene says:

    Waiting for motivation or forcing yourself to have motivation aren’t real. When you are so depressed that it hurts to breath and the only relief you can find is sleep or eating a bunch of junk and they are both temporary fixes there is no such thing as motivation. I find it impossible to get out of bed on most days until I have to be ready for work. I start getting ready late and then I am late. Which may very well cost me my job. Yet I can’t do it. Some workdays I can’t do it at all which is getting me in trouble with work. The supervisors and my coworkers just think it is laziness or procrastination because I don’t want to be at work. On my days off I rarely leave my room. I only eat if my adult sons bring me food and a lot of time I just eat a lot of junk food. I stay in bed and only get up to go to the restroom. I don’t bathe and I don’t brush my teeth or my hair. My home is a mess and I could care less. My dogs don’t get walked anymore. I find no pleasure in anything. I have no satisfaction in my life. It just feels worthless and pointless. I’m on meds they aren’t helping. I am going to therapy but so far nothing. I am just empty and defeated. I try but I can’t get things together and be the person I used to be. I can feel myself spiraling out of control. Motivation just doesn’t exist.

    • Sharon says:

      Omg,
      That’s exactly me. No one could have said it better

      • gina says:

        I feel it too. Nothing is worth it and I dont care about anything, so you know what? I don’t want to or care to do it. Especially things I have no desire to do in the first place. Done. I’m done. That’s it. Really. Done. I’m done.

    • Donna says:

      wow. This is everything.

    • Arthur says:

      Gosh I can relate. One day I was full of life hoping to graduate college and also having hobbies to wanting to stay in bed all the time and everything feels meaningless.

      • Kevin says:

        Arthur, I hate that place. I was there forever. Not totally out of that place.. well…let’s say I can see it in my rear view mirror…… and it is closer than I like.
        But, one thing that helped the most was getting out and hiking. At first, I had to make myself…. but the change in my emotions and mind made such a difference that I get out frequently.
        It somehow changed other areas of my life as well…. I attitudes, motivation, fulfullment, etc

        Good luck to you…. we are pulling for you!

    • Olivia says:

      I certainly resonate with what you are experiencing. It sums up how hard it can be to get going… I am right there in that place right now.

    • Casper says:

      Hi.

      I so hope you feeling better or in a better place.

      First off all of you you here trying it’s better than not Tyring to find some answers is some hope. Means you have not completely give up! Well done!

      So understand this feeling. Sleep escape I know so well, the happiest part of my day was night fall, symbolising end of day, end of having to push and a nothingness sleep time or relief.
      Food for me was the one thing I controlled to make me feel even more horrid I would assume. I went for days not eating I could controlled my hunger. But really it is just another manifestation of “I don’t want to be here ”

      I spent years in this place. Bathed 1x a week to wash my hair. Brushing my teeth was like climbing everest, so this did not happen much, and future looked horrid as everything I enjoyed i found no joy in. No laughter no love just flat emotionless pit of things don’t feel right, just hold on the 4 walls till this aweful feeling go’s away (aka feeling like giving in and exiting life)

      It is hard to be pumped full of Meds sometime they not the right ones, they can make you feel aweful, it can take time to find the right mix for you. I know a few people Meds have helped them tremendously. For me it made it worse, 8 years later I have found some peace in homeopathic remedies.
      Don’t let your pride and self judgemt or what others might think stop you from being booked into hospital and letting them find the right mix, if it is the right mix it can shave years off the process.

      Medication also I don’t feel can be a complete answer. It’s Meds and a few other things, being aware,asking for help, bla bla u heard it all before, I know.
      I think being aware things are not right. When u see they heading south reach out a hand for someone to just walk next to aka help pull u out the hole. I cut everyone off, I have no friends, my family can’t help but my partner tries. He does not get it right but I tell him to just push me. Push me to walk push me to work just treat me like a 5yr old when things are bad. Don’t ask me do you want to, the reality is I never will want to when my head is suppressing me to be useless in life. Just drag me to do something anything that I am able to. The reality is sitting here doing nothing just allows me to think more,build new reasons to not do something, feeding the demon YOUR WORTHLESS so just give up now.

      What I find helps and it only twigged recently when I read on a bipolar form. Sleep deprivation just enough to get you out funk land and send you on a bit of a high.
      For the people on the form it was direct sleep deprivation. Instead of sleeping 8 or more hours they steps 5 hours for 1 night some need 2 nights.
      For me it’s a mix of playing with my herbal Meds that give me sleep deprivation and then I snap right for a bit. Just helps me come out of funk land when it is so bad I just can’t cope with the feeling anymore.

      I hope the last tip might help.

      I really liked the article thanks, just reaffirms that I need to force myself to do the one step at a time till things feel better even though they feel sucky and impossible, the more we think the less we do.
      Just do it. stop thinking and analysing and just do it.

      Love the thought of even if it is just 5-15 min. And pat yourself on the back.
      Smaller steps for things that seem impossible.
      I must admit I just cannot find a reward that works. I need verbal external reward. So I find this rather challenging.

  9. Julie says:

    Great article. As a therapist and one who has suffered depression, it important to recognize the difference in not feeling like doing a thing and literally not being able. There are times you have to act as a robot. When depressed you do not have the luxury of feeling motivated. The other important point that has not been made is that depression is often a signal there are fundamental changes needed in your life, e.g., more meaningful relationships or focus less on self. There’s lot of quality help available. Be willing to get some.

  10. Vee says:

    I was looking for positive, concrete tips. Or at least a description of how someone incapacitated by utter, paralyzing depression managed to get just one foot out of bed and onto the floor. We all know you need to get out of bed, but HOW? If you are on the part of the scale where you are able to get out of bed, then you are able to motivate yourself in whatever small a way. If you find you are unable to get out of bed, then you are on a completely different part of that scale, and as a result you might as well have a sergeant major ordering you to accomplish the task, accompanied by all the lack of sympathy he can muster.

    Each position on that scale of depression cannot comprehend the position of another person on that same scale. That is where depression becomes isolating. That is where guilt is either heaped upon you, or you take it upon your shoulders yourself.

    Someone with just the teeniest spark of optimism in their deepest depression automatically removes themselves from those at the bottom, and as such sees the situation completely differently. That is what I get from this article. Where I am on the scale at the moment, I cannot relate to it. I want to, but I can’t.

  11. susan says:

    I am so depressed and lacking motivation that I don’t care about keeping myself up as to brushing my teeth. Sometimes weeks go by, one time it was 3 weeks since I last had a bath, washed my face, washed my hair, brushed my teeth. I know this is not good but I have no boyfriend, I have a husband but we are separated, my only child is 33, he’s not married, no children of his own so this leaves me with no grand children. I have 3 poodles and I know they don’t care that I don’t bathe they are happy no matter what I look like. I remember as my now passed away mom and dad got older, they stopped taking regular baths, they took “sink” baths, matter of fact alot of aging, older people I’ve known don’t take baths, always “wiping off” with a wash rag. Apparently the stop ping of taking regular baths is something alot of aging people start doing. I know other people have had to notice this too, right!
    Back to me, I’m only 52 and my bathing pattern started when I got depressed. I don’t care if I ever take another bath again. Nothing gets me happy, Im not motivated to do anything and I hate being like this, I want to have my old self back. I take 75 mg of effexor XR daily and it’s not helping. Im looking into MAOI’s and feel this may be my answer. I get easily extremely agitated, aggrevated, mad, pissed, fed up and the list goes on for these emotions I experience every day, for no reason to be this way at the moment they overtake me. One thing I know is I’m tried of feeling like this. I have a part time job, no health insurance and I know I need that job to make money to survive but I could care less if I’m on time, in fact I’m never on time, I’ve never been on time in the 6 months Ive had this job my supervisor has told me she’s at a loss at what to do to make me realize I need to be on time, although she never says if I don’t improve I will lose my job, I know everybody there knows Im late everyday Im scheduled to work and I could care less that they know. I know there are people worse off than me and I don’t know why I wrote all this just wanted to see if anybody else is like me.

    • Anna says:

      Omg yes I’m 48 and feel the same way!!!! Your not alone I have 3 children the youngest is 14 he lives wth my exhusband. And my oldest has her own place wth the kids and my middle child who is 18 lives wth me. My boyfriend lives upstairs I see him only whn I want. So if I don’t feel like bathing I don’t see him for like 3 days at a time. I sit on the couch all day and only get up to cook dinner for his and my house. But there’s times I don’t even do that. There’s days I just cry 3 days in a row its awful and my mood swings are so bad my daughter just stays in her room when she’s home. I also think menopause has to do wth this too. I’m going to go to my Dr’s to check hormone levels and just hope he cld give me something to help get me out of this.

    • Angel says:

      I’m like that too, but it goes back and forth.
      I can’t be bothered to wash my face, brush my teeth or shower for days, until I actually have to be somewhere. I go from sleeping all day in my bed to watching tv all evenings and nights like a zombie. Until I have to work I don’t actually do anything. I don’t have a full time job, I work extra and I had to quit school beacuse I lost all motivation to study. This was about a year ago, and it doesn’t feel like I’m ready to go back any time soon.
      I’m better now, and I do realize that actually getting clean makes me feel better.
      It feels like an accomplishment when I’ve brushed my teeth and showered, which sounds crazy but it’s true.
      I am 32 years old and live alone, no kids, or boyfriend, I have basically 3 friends who live more than 2 hours away from me, so I’m quite alone.

  12. Sonna says:

    For the third week in a row, I am sitting in my car at some random parking area trying to figure out why in the hell I cannot physically get myself to go to work. I am lost, anxiety stricken and sick to my stomach with all the failure piling up around me. Family and friends cannot understand and labels it as laziness. So I’m pretending to go to work, which is even more exhausting than just not going to work. But the judgement and dissapointment from them is too much to face. So I drive… To nowhere. What next? Must I try suicide again? Failed horribly at it the first time, what would be different this time? I take my medication every day… I have been fine for a long time, until now. I used to work a part time job which worked well. But I cannot stay alive with that small amount of income. But this is killing me. I am tired. I can’t even cry anymore. I just want to vomit, scream and sleep. I live with my parents, who are struggling financially. How can I not feel extreme guilt every day I come home from “work”? Its all piling… And I am a static meaningless breath waiting to explode

    • Harsh says:

      I feel you, I am in the same boat as you in terms of not doing the work (thou my work is trying to finish university) and my parents are struggling financially. They don’t understand they just label it as laziness.

    • Dane says:

      How are you travelling now Sonna?
      I can’t seem to act either. Sitting in car parks. Smoking. Coffee. I’ll do Uber for sure but despite having the highest of reasons to act I just can’t. I don’t feel depressed as such but must be. Or is it a part of my brain that’s literally shut down. I can’t explain it and so, like you, appear lazy and non caring of my responsibilities. It’s lonely and at 50 the guilt and judgement swirls. I hope you doing better now.

    • Tim says:

      I’ve been like you for as long as I can remember. For the past two years I’ve been trying my hand at a sales job but failing miserably. Everyone around me is making tons of money easily doing what I’m supposed to do but I just a couple of hundred bucks a month. My bills are piling up, my family is suffering, I have debts that I cannot pay and yet I do nothing.

      Each day I drive to a cafe, sit there for an hour or so, then drive somewhere else, then back to another cafe and do this over and over until evening when I go back to my wife. I make up a story of the prospects I’ve seen and about how hard it is to make a sale. But I’ve seen no one.

      It’s not fear of doing my job. But I just don’t know what it is. After “work” I sit with my iPad and play games on it or mindlessly watch something on the TV. I don’t help with housework until I get yelled at. I do absolutely nothing. And I’m always looking for the chance to get away from everyone.

      Funny thing is everyone always says I have huge potential. People actually admire my skills and knowledge. People come to me for advice. Everyone who does not know the life I’m actually leading thinks I’m this super successful sales person.

      I feel so damn miserable seeing my wife and kids suffer with lack of money. I feel so down right useless. I have read every single book I can think of but nothing seems to help. I never classified what I have a Depression before but I sounds like it’s what I’m going through.

      My wife and kids love me so much, it pains me to see the life they are leading.

      • Anom says:

        I feel exactly the same as this Tim… And I don’t understand why… I feel I’m doing nothing with my life and just letting it go by although I know this isn’t the case really but i constantly feel that way and have negative thoughts.. No matter what good opportunities come my way or the good times I have I still have this guilt in my head and feeling of worthlessness.. I have travelled the world twice and am currently working in Australia although have returned to England briefly but feel an overwhelming feeling of guilt, worthlessness and lonelyness… I’ve met some amazing people in my life and most people I’ve met think I’m a really good person and seem to really admire me but I don’t see it that way and end up running away from people and situations all time .. I’m 29 now and while all my friends seem to be so happy and settled in life I’m still moving place to place going from job to job and don’t feel i fit in with anybody! I too find myself lying to family and friends about looking for work and what I’ve been doing during the day making out I’ve been so busy and just unlucky with opportunities but in actual fact I’m just wasting my day laying in bed, watching films basically doing anything but being proactive .. I can’t understand why I don’t seem to have any drive or motivation to do these things when I know if I did do them I would feel so much better about myself. I shut myself off from people and then find it hard to bring myself back when all I want is to be involved and talking to people sometimes. There’s a good friend of mine that been calling me the last 7 days who I haven’t spoke with for nearly 5 months yet I still keep avoiding his calls and I can’t understand it.. Why am I like this and will I ever change … Sometimes I just think there is something missing in my brain and that’s how I’ll always be .. But I don’t want it to be that way..

        Not sure how much sense that’s made but kind of got lost on a tangent ..

        • Jules says:

          Hi
          I know this is an old post but you have just explained me! I’ve lost so many friends now who don’t understand why I can’t just answer the phone,thing is I can’t even explain why.I have just wasted a whole week end laying in my bed just staring,eating junk,negative thoughts and guilt.
          Does this ever go away-I just want my fun old self back
          How are you doing now?

          • Mandy says:

            Hi Jules I. was glad to get your message. I get good periods and bad periods. It’s horrible when no one understands. If you like we can keep in touch and share how we are feeling. And support each other. You can e-mail me directly at sonicjazmin [at] yahoo [dot] com look forward to hearing from you and getting to know you. Mandy

          • H says:

            Most of these posts describe me. I am a single woman in my 40s and all I want to do is stay in bed with my dogs. I keep my blinds closed and doors locked and my house is basically dark and needs major cleaning. I do work but it is a struggle to force myself to shower and socialize. It is mentally and physically exhausting. If I didn’t work I doubt I would ever leave my house. I have become great at convincing people I am jolly and witty, but it is all an act. I hate for people to know the truth because I do not want anyone knowing my business or having pity for me. I just have no joy in life other than my dogs who love me unconditionally. Without them I would definitely end this life.

      • Lynn says:

        Thanks for sharing your reality Tim. Our days are the same except I don’t have a spouse and kids. Since you do I can only imagine its worse–with the state you’re in affecting more people that you love. It sounds so hard going through what you go through every day. It’s funny I used to look forward to getting married and having a family once I got a better grip on managing my depression. I was thinking “once I get this under control…then life begins.” But your story reminds me too that even after marriage there’s no guarantee that depression won’t hit again. Real families with spouses having to deal with depression–that’s real life. Thanks to your story and others I’m realizing that we are in this together. And for what it’s worth, there’s comfort in that.

  13. Pete says:

    Great article about depression. I found it very informative.

  14. Kevin says:

    Okay.. I read this article a few months back and am rereading it now. I wonder of those that are following this post and perhaps the author how things are going. Have you found new insights, new methods? Any of these methods working for you on a consistent basis?

    Me? Well.. there are a few things that I have found that I am easily motivated and almost driven to do. That is a good feeling (I know that might be a considered a bad word :-)…. Thank God I do like my job and I usually don’t struggle with going to work. A few of my hobbies I truly enjoy. Geocaching, hiking, traveling (even short distances). There was a time when I didn’t have any desire to do anything and I even fought to go to work.

    So I started doing the things that I could find enjoyment in that were somewhat “productive”. Ie… geocaching, hiking, short trips to like a museum or just to make myself and go for a short drive. Now… I have found that I can do these things with all my free time. I could get up…. get dressed.. plan a long hike that would last all day or plan a trip to a neighboring city to explore the history and sites. But my struggle now is… the other things that I still struggle in doing.. ie…. chores, maintenance on cars, house, paying bills… etc….. clueless on these things…

    I am thankful for the new found motivation to do the things I truly enjoy…. but still searching for answers for the ability to complete other tasks.

    Thanks for listening.

    • Kevin says:

      As I was rereading some of the replies to this article I came to Nathan’s comments about how to “trick” yourself into getting things done.. Wow!!! So powerful.. He basically says that you don’t force yourself but be gentle with yourself. Only do the things that you enjoy… but try to throw something in there that might not be as enjoyable… and only do that until it starts to be uncomfortable and stop… Reward yourself for the little bit that you got done… So profound. He mentions that as he did that… that he found that he developed more ability to get these things done.

      I am excited today… I feel like I have taken a big step in my recovery. Even though it really wasn’t a big step.. it was just a bunch of tiny little steps (or perhaps it was the handicap ramp). Either way I am not where I was..

      I’ll just reiterate from my earlier post.. I allowed myself to find something I enjoyed (hiking, geocaching and traveling) and allowed myself to do that and tried not to beat myself up for not doing a lot of other things that really needed to be done. That got me out of a depressed state for periods of time. When I was hiking, etc.. or planning my next hike. etc.. I wasn’t depressed.. When I would think about the other things I HAD to do.. I would get depressed…. So… now.. I am going to apply Nathan’s method of slipping periods of doing some of the “HAVE TOs” and see how that works.

      We will see! Thanks for listening.

      • Josh says:

        I am currently at the “didn’t have any desire to do anything” stage, and I am not working now, have not been for the past 6 months.

        It can be a struggle for me to do things, even when I realize that the motivation will not come. I feel like that is the natural order of things, and that it is so much more comfortable to lie in my bed and not do anything. After I take my medication in the evening my motivation level is slightly higher, but in the mornings it is worst. In the mornings I have been just lying around in my room with the door closed, which I know is not the most helpful thing to do in the first place, but if I go out of my room I have to do chores and other mundane things which just seem pointless

        • Angel says:

          Mornings are usually the worst I’ve noticed for most people with depression. It is for me too. I find that if I don’t get going immediately I don’t get anything done and I just lie around feeling like shit.
          My therapist suggested I should try to do what I “need” to do first thing in the morning, like small chores. Or even just one chore. Just one thing and then the pressure is off.
          It actually worked, and now that I find myself slipping from this I’m going to try it again.
          I hope you do to and that it helps.

          • Kevin says:

            That is awesome Angel. I love to drive… so I try to get up first thing in the morning and drive a little bit.. That makes me feel productive and it is so easy to do.

  15. Phoebe says:

    But… how do you force yourself to do anything? I really don’t understand how this is even possible?

  16. Rebecca says:

    I would just like to thank you for posting this. It’s led me to some books I’d like to read, and some of the advice in this blog post helped me get out of bed on a day I felt there was no point in doing so. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  17. Ray says:

    I am a twenty year old college student, and I have suffered from depression in one form or another since the time when I was eight. Now, when my life should just be beginning, it feels instead like it is ending. I should be a junior by now, but I am still a freshman, due to dropping out many times. I can’t get out of bed to go to the TWO meager classes I am taking (which I will soon flunk out of, again). I can’t do laundry, or wear clean clothes, or change out of my pajamas. Sometimes it even feels like a struggle to talk to my closest friends and family. It is now morning and I was supposed to leave for school half an hour ago. Reading the post gave me motivation for about five minutes, and then I fell back into the slump: lying in bed, contemplating, “What is the point of it all?” My grandmother has just passed away, and that has combined with everything else to make me feel the lowest I have ever been. I want to get past this and have a life (sometimes) but medication and therapy haven’t gotten me anywhere. If anyone, anywhere, can help, I would appreciate it.
    -Best wishes, Ray

    • Natalie says:

      I feel the exact same way. I am 20 years old and a freshmen and haven’t made it in class for weeks now don’t even know how I’m passing. I’ve been depressed every since I was a young teenager and nothing helps. I don’t even like to be around my friends and keep thinking I should be doing something else more meaningful. It’s hard living this way and no one seems to understand what I’m going through, my friends just think that I’m ditching them but in reality I can’t even connect with them anymore.

  18. nancys says:

    I see that this is an old post. Intellectually I know it makes sense to get up and get moving, and I believe finding an excercise routine which makes me happy, i.e. dancing, skipping, boxing, will make all the difference. However at the moment although I am going to work 4 days per week, at the weekend and in the evenings I just don’t have the energy to excercise. I know I should make myself do it anyway, that’s the point of the article, but right now I just can’t be bothered. Even going out to see friends bores me. I know I won’t always be like this. I also really appreciate that I am physically healthy & able enough to do this stuff.

  19. Lili says:

    Thank you for this article. It is true, literally nothing in the world feels better than just lying down and zoning out. Sometimes even TV is too much. Just to lay down and stare at the ceiling…. nothing feels better than that. (Okay, maybe a big piece of red velvet cake feels better…but then I will want to lay down immediately after.)

    I have remained stagnant in my life because of this. I literally have just enough energy to go to my job and make money. I don’t even have the motivation to clean. Sometimes I don’t brush my teeth a couple days in a row. I had to switch to part time because the stress of my environment and all the different energies there was getting to be too much. Of course I don’t have a boyfriend or husband. No children. I am in my mid-30s. I’d say it has been like this 20 years. I don’t have friends. Not real ones.

    I am realizing what an awful way it is to live but I am dead set against antidepressants. I tried both Celexa and Cymbalta. Neither worked. I don’t like the idea of being dependent on a pill to be normal. I don’t have anything against other people taking them, but for my own personal reasons, I am against it.

    I feel like I have spent most of my life tired. I also have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. That has wrecked havoc on my hormones and entire system too.

    Literally, everyday, I say okay…. today’s the day I am finally going to get my life together. I am going to exercise. Clean this house. Etc. Etc. And yet another day goes by…. nothing. I lay down and go to sleep instead. It feels better. I would say a good 17 years and I am still procrastinating on starting my life.

    I not kidding, whenever I force myself to start cleaning…I can get some stuff done, but it goes haywire because I am a perfectionist. So if I can’t clean something as perfect as I want it, I get very upset. If it takes longer than expected, I get very overwhelmed and frustrated. If I make a list of 8 things to do, I might get 3 done. I feel like a failure when it takes longer than expected and I don’t finish my lists. So I don’t do lists anymore.

    Literally inside I am like “Ahhhhhhhh!” as I am scrubbing or cleaning…..I don’t want to be doing it that little. Same with getting ready to go to work. It is as a point where I am screaming inside. I don’t wanna go. It has gotten better since I have gone part-time though.

    This article has made me realize the motivation will never ever be there. I just need to take it a little at a time each day. Thanks for the tips. I feel like they could work.

    I have always dreamed of a normal life and family of my own, but as I get older I can almost feel that slipping away if I don’t do something. I feel like I am getting sicker and sicker with this just wanting to lay and stare, shut everyone out, and do nothing.

    • Charlotte says:

      Lili, you just described my life.

      • Karen says:

        Thank you all for sharing. I am all of these things too. Its a good feeling to read that others know exactly how my life is, and what my mind goes through daily. For myself it is like a force that holds me back. God speed to all, and never give up.

    • Jo says:

      You also just described my life.

      Have you heard of flylady? It’s sort of a how to get your house clean/life organised thing. One thing she says is you can do anything for 15 minutes, I know it doesn’t sound like much but it’s amazing how it accumulates. Like I set my timer and clean something for 15 minutes only, and then walk away. And over the week/weeks things start to look better/my house starts to look ok, good even! When things around me are clean and better organised I feel better, about everything, and I want to do more.
      Today’s my day off (I also only work 4 days a week) and its 11 am, I’ve only had 14hrs of sleep(!), but now I’m thinking I might set my timer for 15 minutes, and have a shower/get ready for the day, and hopefully after that I will feel like doing something/get something done.

    • Lisa says:

      Wow…I too could relate to so much of what you said. And so many times I’ve felt like I was the only one. Thanks for sharing.

    • mark says:

      Hi lili.

      I would advise you go and get yourself checked out, and i say this because any woman with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome usually has something to do with the autoimmue system, you should also go and see a rheumatologist as there is over 200 types of these diseases, also i think you should get yourself checked out for fibromyalgia, i hope this helps you out lili.

  20. sarah jane says:

    https://sarahmurnaneblog.wordpress.com

    I found your article very interesting and helpful. Everyone has different ways of managing their depression. Everyone is also entitled to their own opinions of what depression is. For me i started writing a blog just before christmas 2014 which has helped me so much. Please feel free to read it and the link is above.
    Stay strong all of you and remember you are not alone

    xx

  21. aradhya says:

    Depression is a result of unhealthy thinking and can be cured in simple way by changing our way of thinking. We won’t need any medication for this. I tried to cure my depression through healthy thinking and have succeeded. I was motivated a lot by thoughts of -‘ Pandit Sri Ram Sharma Acharya’. I thought of sharing this with everyone. If it helped me, I trust His teachings and way of healthy living can help others also. You can find his thoughts here- http://quotes.awgp.org/chintan.php?qType=1&lng_id=2

    • Lori says:

      No depression is not he result of unhealthy thoughts. Some of use endured unspeakable abuse as
      very young children, as a result our brains literally did not develop normally. It affects our moods,
      motivation, memory and learning abilities. Researchers know this from spect scans done on brains.
      Some parts are smaller than normal, therefore don’t function optimally. For a depressed person
      to think HAPPY thoughts is exhausting. I cannot sleep without medication, but the meds only
      last one or two nights then I have to take a night off for it to work again. This makes my sleep/wake
      cycle erratic and functioning quite difficult. My therapist says I need to get on a schedule, but how?
      Maybe she and the pdoc should figure it out and let me know. Sorry I’ll stop venting. I just tire
      of what I perceive as simplistic statements. Do you really think if I’m more positive I’ll sleep, stop
      jumping at the slightest noise, be able to turn the running thoughts off in my head, etc, etc, etc?

      • Helen says:

        Thanks Lori, what you say makes sense. Unspeakable abuse as children affects our motor growth and function. Thats makes sense. Why have the experts not linked or studied this deeper to potentially formulate a statistically correct diagnosis of plausable and feasable common traits which can actually be measured with medical equipment?

  22. Coco says:

    My therapist says the same. We can’t change our mindset, but we can change our actions. Problem is, I can’t move. I really can’t. My body is so heavy, I feel like I’m made of bricks. My legs shake when I walk down the stairs, upstairs is even worse.

    I’m a healthy slim 25 year old, I eat really healthy and plenty, nothing is wrong with my body.
    I am often really lucky. I get the jobs I applied for, everything falls in place for me most of the time. But I can’t make my body move! I am unable to do much more than wash, eat, clean the house.

    I gave up on motivation long time ago, i just function, but that doesn’t work for me anymore, my body betrays me and I can’t stop it. I feel the most comfortable sitting on my warm bed, just doing nothing.
    It’s no way to live, I know that. Money is becoming an issue, I should get a new job, but I can’t move for more than 2 hours – then I need to lay down again…

    Sorry for my bad english. Does anyone have a suggestion for this heavy-body-syndrome? I dont’t care about being happy or motivated anymore, I just want to move again…
    Anyway thanks for the post, it has been really helpful and accurate.
    Coco

    • Katie says:

      Coco,

      I can relate to so much of what you said. I’m 23 and have been wasting away many of my days just lying in bed doing nothing. Just wondering — are you a female or male? Sorry if that’s weird to ask, but I recently joined a really empowering, supportive Facebook group that was started at the beginning of February and it’s all about getting MOVING in our lives and “not being a tree.” There’s more than 1500 people in it from all over the US and world. It’s really been helping me both with motivation and with realizing I’m not alone in feeling like this. But… it’s only for women. So if you are a woman and you’d like to join it, please let me know and I’d love to invite you!! Or I think you may also be able to just request to join yourself if you search for “IDWTBAT” on Facebook. IDWTBAT = I Don’t Want To Be A Tree 🙂

      <3 Katie

      • Marsha says:

        Hi Katie!
        I’m currently dealing with depression and I’ve finally come to terms with it. i am going to look for that facebook page.
        Are there any other resources that you have found?
        I’m currently in Southern California and Id like to get active with people who are going through what I’m going through.

    • Linda says:

      Have you been checked for Lyme disease? That is how I feel. I was recently diagnosed with Lyme. I also have depression. But my medications typically help me w/motivation & keep my anxiety I check. I just know Lyme disease mimics chronic fatigue, it is usually accompanied with joint pain & brain fog though…I hope you feel less heavy and tired.

  23. Rachel says:

    This is helpful, thank you so much for your encouraging words! Rachel

  24. Jeremy says:

    Thanks for this article. I will try and find that first book you talked about. I have tried this force motivation, and it never seems to work for me. If I just don’t do it, it won’t happen. If I try to prep at all my depression will just destroy it. I’m hoping when I find this book to find more tools that she might suggest. Because this just doing it without prepping leaves me vulnerable to my anxiety and anger issues as well. Just a side note I have a facebook page where I link helpful tidbits for people with depression and also note my daily dealings with my depression. https://www.facebook.com/PathOfDepression?ref=hl

  25. Laurie says:

    Thank you. Missed my meds for 3 days and felt myself falling off again. Overwhelmingly tired and cold. I convinced myself today to do 3 things. a start. 1) Get up 2) take – restart- meds 3) google for ideas to get motivated when depressed.
    And that led me to your page. Thank you. Now I have my next goal. Download and start “Get it Done when you’re Depressed” If it has chapters, I will read chapter 1. If not 10 minutes.
    Thank you for your blog to help me today!

    • Kevin says:

      Laurie, i liked reading your post.. just checking to see how you have been doing lately. Seeing if you found anything that has worked for you in the motivation while depressed category.

  26. Rachel says:

    To lost girl,
    The bible can help you. Jw.org
    Without the bible I would be lost too.
    Take care,
    -Rachel

  27. Lost Girl says:

    Useful tips but what if you don’t know what you should be working on? I’ve been unemployed 7 years, no partner or children and I have little to do during the day. I exercise and keep up with friends but am so depressed by my lack of a role or purpose that I’m suicidal and living just for my family. I felt better when I was volunteering and applying for jobs, but my voluntary job finished and I haven’t got far with getting a paid job. All the jobs I dreamed of when I finished my degree have proved unreachable and I’m not motivated to get any job just for money. I was very academic but due to my depression, limited work experience and unemployment I feel I only have a chance at mundane, minimum wage jobs which makes me feel a failure, especially when I see my peers in well paid professional jobs. So I live at home, aged 30, on sickness benefits, feeling like my life is over. I’ve been on anti depressants and various had therapy for 6 years and it helped short term but I’m still lost and have no idea what to do or aim for.

    • Hello Lost Girl. I would have you try to contact me. If you are on Facebook, look up Richard Hutnik. I have some ideas I could share with you. A lot of what you have is the sign of the times here, and is not you. The other part about finding meaning, which would help (look up Logos Therapy), can be found by looking within on what you want to see change. The system has robbed you of a future, and you might not be aware of it. You need to look beyond. Looking at where others are in comparison to you isn’t going to help either

      If you don’t contact me, I will say look within and see what bothers you about the world, and find others who want to change that and help them. You also also look online for this.

      All I would say here now is *hugs*. I have been there.

    • Mark says:

      To Lost Girl:

      Yes. There are a LOT of people in your situation. You have the employment qualifications but the openings don’t exist primarily because the economy can’t support the number of qualified applicants. If you identify with what you do, your sense of meaning, purpose and value in life can be diminished. Hopefully your situation has changed and you’re in better as of this writing.

    • Small Suggestion says:

      Perhaps get a loving pet?

    • mp7777 says:

      I am actually a peer employment support coach. Peer meaning I have struggled with depression and sometimes still do. I can relate to the article, and others sharing. If we do not do things they will not get done, but no matter how much I try to force myself I sometimes just feel it is impossible to start. I think an important distinction to make is impossible and very difficult. Depression causes some constraints on freedom of choice, but there is still some elbow room. I can choose to get out of bed, choose to maybe start doing my taxes, its just when depressed, it is proven that certain parts of our brain that control energy, motivation, hopefulness are not functioning properly or as well. So when energy and motivation is limited I can only settle for making some choices, and progress will be slow and gradual. Getting friends and family to help could be beneficial is possible.

      As far as employment, I am a firm believer that if someone is able to do the work (good resume/cover letter/apply/followup/interview well) than they will eventually get a job. It might not be the exact job they want but you have to start somewhere, and it is a way to gain experience, have something to put on your resume, network, and looking for a job with a job is more attractive to employers. It is a lot of work, but I was forced to because I started to run out of money and I was not on disability. If you are on disability or not, get the help of a job coach, your education department probably has a vocational rehab department, and your state/county office of mental health also probably has employment supports, and there maybe some by you that even takes medicaid.

  28. Emily says:

    This article was helpful in giving me some new perspectives and reading to check out. For me, getting moving is extremely hard. I have seasonal depression and live in a cold, Northern city where our snowy winter lasts from October to April. This means ‘just’ getting out for a walk involves numerous steps- putting on wooly socks, mittens, scarf, boots etc which I find overwhelming when in a depressive episode. The dark and cold don’t help either. Keeping it together for a full day o teaching kindergarten also depletes most of my mental resources. Going to get some beets and see if it helps!!

    • Liz Miller says:

      Emily, you are in a much better place than you realize. My kudos to you for being a kindergarten teacher while going through such personal hardship. The fact that you are able to get yourself out of the house to teach those kids is a really wonderful thing. Keep it up. The sun will appear in April!! In the meantime, focus on the wonderful good you are giving to this planet!!

    • Kevin says:

      I live in a cooler climate as well. One of my ways of dealing with the climate and the limitations it provides is knowing that there will be days thrown in there where it might hit a warm sunny day that I can get out and hike and walk. It might be cold for 5 more days.. but then.. I know sooner or later a “warmer” day will come… I look at the forecast.. and try to clear my schedule and make a plan for that “warmer” day.

  29. Rich says:

    Is it entirely possible depression can be caused by a lack of internal drives or wantings, and pretty much put into a feeling of hopelessness? I have had to deal with depression myself, and I find out there is a spiral that can happen, where you end up running out of hope, or reasons to be, lacking a narrative on how things can get better. With this, internal drives get extinguished, and there is a lack of what is normally called “motivation”. Because the internal drives are shorted, which would keep a person moving, the person has to work real hard on a conscious level to keep moving.

    Please feel free to correct what I wrote, as you see fit.

    • Kevin says:

      Rich, i agree.. I lack motivation. I wonder sometimes which came first.. the lack of motivation causing depression or the other way around.. I think they both definitely effect each other. So… I spend a lot of tiem searching youtube videos, googling articles, etc… It seems I get some motivation/inspiration and then withing hours or sometimes minutes.. that motivation wanes… so frustrating. Any suggestions from the readers would be appreciated.

  30. Nathan says:

    There are several things at play here. And I think there are several ways to tackle it as well. At first, I felt considerable amount of low energy, fatigue but was functional. Later, spent quite a bit of time in bed, coz of low energy hoping sleep would help. Later I figured, getting simple tasks to do became almost impossible on certain days too. I later realised that it was some sort of depression that was creeping in…

    Then I found an interesting methodology to get stuff done. I then promised myself that I wouldn’t do anything that I didn’t like at all, and would never force myself to do it. I’d then try to insert a task here and there and try getting it done, but if it becomes overhelming I’d back out. I’ll then reward myself in some way for having done something. Then I’d repeatedly assure myself that I will not do anything that I didn’t like :). In some sense, its like appeasing your mind, instead of forcing it to do anything it doesn’t like. Slowly, as I add and finish tasks and keep rewarding myself, the mind that refused to do anything, slowly but surely turns around and begins doing things. Then there comes a day, when it sees through the whole trick and decides to not do anything at all. On that day I give it a complete well-deserving rest and comply with its request. The key is to move in a “direction”, but not force it.

    While you do this you may try some supplements/activities that are known to boost mood. Try an omega-3 supplement. Fish oil. Even beets have compounds that help with moods and are known to be as effective as first line tricyclics. Then there is the exercise. You may walk a few minutes initially, and then lengthen the time. On some days, when you don’t feel like doing it, don’t do it. But reward yourself nevertheless.

    Surely, adding and doing simple tasks does get you out of the rut. But the key is not to force yourself to do it, but carefully coax and cajole and be aware of the response. Sometimes, the mind yields and that is when you strike the iron. Then again, then again, then again ….:).

    During the time you are doing this, try your best not to give way to negative perceptions/thoughts in any way. You may even try CBT techniques to neutralize the effect of these thoughts too. For that you’ll need to be extremely aware of your thought patterns, which is quite difficult to do when you are constantly distracted. If you are stuck with a belief system, try psychotherapy to uproot the belief system that is pulling you back. You’ll need someone external/expert to pull you out of that muck too.

    All in all, getting out of the fog is actually a multi-pronged effort. Its OK, if you don’t do some of the things on some days, but its important to maintain a “direction” while not forcing yourself to do the same. Even if you didn’t get a thing done, do not in anyway feel negative about it, but try to give it a positive spin by saying you atleast tried. The whole point is to retrain your mind back to a healthy way of thinking. Its definitely possible. Just as you went into it the first place, its possible to retrace back to where you’d like to be. Best luck !

    PS: The method I’ve suggested is something that I developed on my own after attempting several techniques. It works. It is simple. And most importantly its just a natural way to retrain your mind into a productive way ! I’ll perhaps try and publish it someplace although I don’t have a degree in the subject…

    • Nathan says:

      I’ll also tell you the story of the beets. As a matter of fact, on couple or more occasions I had a perfectly normal day with energy and motivation. I then began to investigate if I had eaten something that had made me feel that way. As we filtered through things, I realized I eaten veggie cutlets on those occasions, bought from some local retail. We checked on the ingredients, but were disappointed to find that there were just beets & potatoes in them. I then started to check on all the ingredients and figured that beets had compounds in them that actually worked as antidepressants ! So by all means use beet juice or other beet preparations as additional weapons in your arsenal to fight this beast :). Plus, then also do a whole lot of good to your liver. Apparently, a healthy liver too protects against depression ! Best luck !

    • Kevin says:

      Excellent reply Nathan. Nice, simple and doable!

    • Kevin says:

      Nathan.. did you ever publish your thoughts and methods of “tricking” yourself into getting things done? I would love to read more on this. Is there a way to contact you to ask your some questions about this method?

      Kevin

  31. Robert D Dangoor says:

    After 30 years of depression I’ve come to realise that depression is when you’re waiting not to do things, and happiness is when you can’t wait to do things.

    I thought of this saying when I realised that when I was depressed, I stopped myself from doing things – I put obstacles in my way.
    When you’re melancholy it’s like when you’re in your garage and the engine won’t start.
    When you’re content, you’re revving the engine, raring to go.

  32. Depression Relief - Still Looking says:

    This article asks the question; Has the idea of forcing yourself into action awakened a new energy? Great question! My answer is yes and no.

    For over 30 years I’ve dealt with depression and I can say that when I was young and physically healthy, forcing myself to do tasks was key to keeping my life going.

    Now that I’m older and my cognitive health has declined to the point where I can’t work anymore, there are days ( most times many days in a row) that it doesn’t matter how much I force myself I can’t get off the couch. If I do force myself I can become physically sick due to the mental pressure created by attempting to complete a task. I say mental pressure because I feel the pressure in my head and after tens of thousands spent on medical testing nothing has been found.

    Just for the record, I took anti-depressants for 20 years and spent thousands of dollars on psychotherapy. Its said that theres treatment available for depression, I’m still looking for it after 23 years. For me the medical and psych institutions haven’t be able to provided the treatment they speak of.

    I think that depression in all its unique forms with all its diverse side effects is different for everyone. Same basic mood swings, different degrees of fatigue and faltering cognitive function but still different for everyone in some way. Enough so that one individual can receive benefit from forcing themselves to act and others will make themselves physically sick if forced to attempt what others find as easy everyday tasks.

    • Kevin says:

      Still looking,

      I have read that physical exercise can help with depression, like walking, etc. Have you tried this? I am considering trying this for myself.

  33. Brittany says:

    3:25 am and reading this is reassuring. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve felt this way (years!). I do not know how to get past this hurdle. I have done some counseling which was nice but even then, I didn’t implement any of the changes or deals I was suppose to make with myself. I wish I cared more and didn’t suppress the pain in my heart… but I feel like I’m stuck in the bottom of the well..or I think of my self as sinking horse like in the movie, “The Never Ending Story. Sigh. One tiny action everyday is what I need, as your article mentioned, giving yourself a time limit for doing an uncomfortable obstacle is something I need to start trying myself. Just making a small effort is what I am trying to do now..day by day. P.s.. I am glad that I am not the only one who enjoys staring into oblivion 😉 (catatonic=bliss)

  34. Önder Sönmez says:

    I totally agree with the “you have to move in to action” message of the article. All articles on here are great, they describe exactly what being depressed is about and how things can improve. My feeling is that depression comes and goes in waves and I don’t think that in the end one can cure completely. I took anti-depressants for 2 months and quit because eventually it did not do that much for me, it did help me get better from the worst times when I felt completely down, but afterwards it only made me feel numb.

    The only thing that really works for me is to force myself to get out and go to work, to move and go somewhere for the weekend, to make that phone call to an old friend or to family, etc. etc. Things that should be automatic, but not for me.

  35. jacqueline says:

    This is exactly a description of my current and unfortunately persistant state. I just started meds 2 days ago and can only hope it changes something. I waited for months, I tried to act like things were normal but nothing really is, it is just a facade that has now too evapoated and I am left with no emotion or energy.
    I am tring to move. And get out of my head, just as you suggest.
    It is tough.
    Jg

  36. Becca says:

    John,

    Your page is the first place where I have found exactly what I’m going through, not just what I’m feeling, or instructions on how to handle my situation. I’m aware that exercise will give me energy, a job will allow me the sense of purpose, and being around like minded (not – depressed) people leads to a happier sense of self worth (don’t have many friends right now). I’m in a position where I’m not accountable for a whole lot, which makes having the motivation to be productive despite my feelings, nonexistent. Even the desire for job to bring more money into my household isn’t much of a motivation as we’re able to get by and my family’s income will increase a great deal when my husband graduates. Even so, my disposition is such that I regularly ask myself, “what’s the point of being here?” If it weren’t for the fear of emotionally harm to my pre-school age children, I would have zero motivation to look for answers. Thank you for this article. I’m hoping it can give me direction to look forward to tomorrow.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Becca –

      If you’re feeling this way most of the time, I would urge you to visit your doctor and describe what you’re going through. You could see if medication would give you enough short-term help so that you could look at some of the larger questions you mention about purpose and motivation. As you know, the sorts of things you are describing are symptoms of depression. You don’t need to accept them as necessary truths of your life.

      My best to you —

      John

  37. MK says:

    These ideas are very interesting to me because my way of handling problems and issues is to do battle with them. It has been a successful way to deal with school-related issues and my son’s ADHD, and it was how I hoped my husband would tackle his depression issues. Acknowledging the depression and then fighting to move forward. Unfortunately, neither of those things has happened yet. Perhaps when he is ready, though, this will be an effective method for him in working through the issue. I think what will be the most helpful for him is the idea of not waiting for motivation but creating motivation. Very interesting.

    Mary Kay

    • John says:

      Hi, Mary Kay –

      I hope for both your sakes that he can get started soon, but I know how hard it can be. Getting started was especially difficult for me, at least doing it in a way that led to sustained self-work.

      There are a lot of practical strategies in Julie Fast’s book. I found it extremely helpful partly because it focuses on doing your work despite depression, and there’s usually a lot of financial and career pressure to push you into action.

      All the best to you –

      John

      • Kevin says:

        I have found that one of the things I do enjoy is researching and looking for articles and testimonies how people deal with depression. I hope that is to my favor. I do know of some people who won’t even do that.. They just hide. I go into chat rooms sometimes… and it helps to encourage other people. Please tell me I’m going to make it out!

        Something I have wondered about is this intense almost physical pain in my gut. IT is overwhelming at times. It is so associated with the depression. I hate it! Does anyone else experience this gut wrenching pain?

  38. Dave M says:

    You have described, in your post, exactly the content of my therapy session this week. While I have a very clear intellectual understanding of what I’m supposed to do to diminish my depression – exercise, look for work, self-talk and reality checks et al – I cannot get to it.

    I tell my therapist it’s like sitting in my car and seeing the key in the ignition but not turning the key.

    For a long time I’ve been hung up on “waiting for motivation”. Your post has shown me a couple of new ways of looking at it. Thanks.

    Dave

    • John says:

      Hi, Dave M –

      I got interested in this topic after a lot of experience like yours – just sitting and staring. Sometimes I got into that state in an intense way and felt very comfortable there. That’s one of the things that makes it so important to look at every technique available to get moving again.

      Thanks for your comment.

      John

      • Kevin says:

        Dave and John,

        This is where I am. Stuck.. looking for the motivation. Even reading John’s ways to short circuit our motivator got me thinking for a little bit that I could do this.. but that didn’t last long… tick…. tick…. tick.. it’s gone. I wish I could get past this.

  39. Evan says:

    The people I know who struggle with depression have found it helpful to go for walks instead of just sitting – especially at a good pace (and especially up hills, the pushing up hill seems to help more than just along the flat).

    • John says:

      Hi, Evan –

      Walking is great – exercise always helps people feel better. The test comes when you don’t feel like going out for that uphill walk – you’re not motivated at all. Can you make yourself do it then? I think many of us start out eagerly with a new method for alleviating depression. However, we often fail to make it a regular activity because those days inevitably come when we’re not motivated to do it. We start skipping when we don’t feel like it, and doing it only sporadically can take away the curative effect.

      John

Trackbacks

  1. […] to monstrous proportions and it becomes overwhelming to decide where to start. The little bit of motivation I’ve gained goes right out the window as I stare at all the stuff I have to do. There is a […]



By clicking the Submit button below you agree to follow the Commenting Guidelines