One of the biggest myths about depression that the mental health community has been trying to bust is that people with depression are “just lazy.”
Can’t hold down a job because of your depression? Lazy. House always a mess because your depression means you can’t face cleaning it? Lazy. Spend all day in bed because depression tells you that leaving it is impossible? Lazy.
It’s a hard stigma to beat. Things like not cleaning and staying in bed are typical things that you’d imagine a “lazy” person to do. Depression, however, is so much more than “just being lazy.”
I have always been a lazy person. It’s fine, I don’t mind admitting that. I’ve also always had depression. It wasn’t too bad until I was 14-years-old, and I didn’t have an official diagnosis until I was 19, but looking back, I think it’s always been there. It is hard to tell though. What am I doing (or in most cases, not doing) because of my depression and what is just because I’m lazy?
Not getting out of bed because I can’t stop crying, that’s going to be the depression. Not getting out of bed because it’s really comfy and I just want five more minutes, that could be laziness. Telling myself it’s because I need five more minutes and it’s comfy, but still being in bed half an hour later and practically screaming at myself to move but feeling like I’m physically unable to – now which is that? Depression? Or the laziness? Or both?
The stigma that people with depression are “just lazy” is so pervasive that it can be hard not to think that I’m always “just lazy” myself; and that I’m also useless, hopeless and good for nothing. This is when the “negative view of self” that accompanies my depression really kicks in. It tries to tell me that I’m not really depressed at all, I’m just lazy, I’m just pathetic, I’m just not trying hard enough. There are moments though, when it feels like all the trying in the world isn’t going to be enough to pull me through.
Friends and family have always made jokes about my laziness. Growing up, I would always leave my schoolwork to the last minute and sometimes, I’d just look at the ever-growing list of things I needed to do and just take a nap instead. I’ve been consistently seen as someone who’ll go out of my way to avoid doing things, to just sleep instead or just “laze around doing nothing.” I’ve never understood the people with a need to be busy; if I get too busy (and my too busy is a lot less busy than most people) I get overwhelmed and I need a nap. Is that just because I’m lazy and I don’t want to do all the useful things? Or is it maybe something more?
When you’re struggling with depression, it can be easy to beat yourself up about being lazy. Easy to tell yourself that your lack of energy and motivation is just something you have to push through. Or that you must have something wrong with yourself because you’re able to do some things, just not the useful or important ones. But it’s time to stop beating myself up about being so lazy. Yes, I need to work on it. Yes, I could do more. But screaming at myself for staying in bed an extra hour instead of doing the dishes? That’s not going to help anything. It’s time I learned that. It’s time we all learned that.