Being institutionalized for a depressive episode is never a laughing matter. Nevertheless, I have a go-to half-joke I always whip out whenever the topic comes up.
“You know, sometimes I wish I could be institutionalized, just so I could STOP for a while.”
No one ever really laughs.
Truth be told, sometimes my life seems like a succession of stopping and going. I’m bored and don’t have anything to do, so I look for projects to fill up my time. I fill up my time with projects, and I’m suddenly stressed out and looking to drop them because I’m overloaded. I drop them, and then I get bored again. It is a never-ending cycle.
This type of paradoxical behavior has left me very confused as to whether or not I am a lazy person. Am I unmotivated? Is that why I never seem to get much done? Or am I actually getting quite a bit done? Am I pushing myself too hard sometimes? Do I actually have too many irons in the fire at once? Or am I afraid to get involved with things I think I’ll fail at?
Who am I anyway?
I believe a common misperception about depressed people is that they aren’t particularly productive because they can’t muster up enough energy to do anything. While I have occasionally found this to be true, it is certainly not always the case. Many times, the problem is we are actually trying to do too much. Tell me if you’ve ever had this experience: After a week of general lethargy, you suddenly awaken on a Saturday morning with the resolve to complete every single task you have … that same day. Obviously, the day is not long enough for such tasks, plus you’re so amped up that you can’t decide where to begin. At the end of the day, all you have is a bunch of quarter- to half-completed projects lying around.
This may seem extremely disorganized, but you have to remember that, by definition, depression indicates an unorganized mind. There are so many other factors at play, though. For instance, I have a tendency to believe everyone is more organized than I am. As a result, I try to put up a front that I am very organized as well, even though I am not. Sometimes when I say I want to “stop,” it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with any kind of physical activity or work; it means I want to be able to stop being fake about who I am. I am the not the person I am projecting myself to be, mainly because I think no one will like that person.
Depressed people procrastinate, take on too much, take on too little, overachieve, underachieve. We’re basically all over the map, and that is a real problem for us. We feel bound up by expectations so much, and most of the time they are expectations we’ve placed upon ourselves. Imagine the conflict of waking up with a “go-getter” attitude, while also being thoroughly convinced you’re going to fail. How are you supposed to reconcile all that?
I have difficulty just watching television. I always have to be doing something else, too. It may seem as if I just want the opportunity to sit down and watch the boob tube. In reality, though, what I really want is to be able to feel like I can sit down. Maybe that’s why a little forced relaxation doesn’t sound so bad to me sometimes. At least that way, the choice is already made for me.