I want to talk briefly about something hugely common among depressives but which is almost impossible to accurately describe, though as soon as you begin, the people around you who have been depressed themselves automatically connect the sensation you are clumsily attempting to explain with what they themselves are experiencing on a daily basis. Doctors have an easy time discussing it, because it sounds so simple and matter-of fact. Loss of energy. Loss of focus. Loss of motivation. Classic symptoms, boxes to check off.
But when you open your eyes and stare at the dust motes in your room and think how difficult it is going to be to walk down the stairs and brush your teeth, or worse leave the house and be in the world and walk and take the bus and talk to people and attempt to be sweet and lovely as you hold this fragile image of yourself up to the world and ask them to love you. That is an astonishing amount of work, and for a lot of people it is impossible. This is not something we discuss with those outside of the community, because frankly, to those unfamiliar with the symptoms, we come off sounding lazy. And part of me thinks we always will. There is no way to understand how difficult it is for some people to do the simple necessary daily things that everyone else takes for granted, if, for you, those things are part of an easy and ordinary dance you perform naturally every day. I won’t even talk about cooking meals; that is one regular, routine thing with which I particularly struggle, and at the moment, can only do in the simplest form.
It’s such a simple thing. Lack of energy. But massively difficult to communicate to the people in your life who are wondering why you are not fighting harder. I’m lucky in a sense (mixed blessings) that anxiety and BDD symptoms often drive me to do those simple things like brush my teeth and wash my face and make sure I am not falling even more in my own estimation. But a lot of people who suffer from major depressive disorder have trouble even getting out of bed. You hear this said so often, it’s almost a cliché, but when was the last time you thought about what that would be like, to be unable to move because the fog surrounding you and occupying your body is so dense and thick and heady that your body instinctively, biologically, surrenders.
I am not advocating for lethargy or for simply giving in to every negative sensation. I am simply advocating for greater compassion for this particular symptom of many mood disorders, especially depression. Your 21-year-old son may not be a “lazy shit” who is addicted to video games. Lack of energy, lack of motivation, can be biological, something they cannot control nor have chosen. Care for them and teach them to care for themselves. Ask them to meet you in the middle instead of doing the entire task themselves, NO MATTER HOW SIMPLE AND EASY IT SEEMS TO YOU. Do not give up on them and do not expect miracles. The steps they are taking may seem hopelessly small and basic but that is their fight and often what defines the beginning of recovery.