Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The inertia of depression

I once asked if I was lazy or depressed. I still can't answer that question completely but I think I have a better understanding of why it's so tough to answer.

A great deal of my depression manifests in self-doubt and often strong self-hate. Any activity I engage in - this blog, a good paying gig with a popular magazine, dinner with a friend, a big party - I approach with fear and self-doubt. My depression tells me that there's no way I've got the stuff to pull of this activity without making a fool of myself.

I call it inertia because it builds on itself. Let's talk about a party. It starts with in invitation to, let's say, an event built around my industry with important people attending. At first I'm pleased to have been invited and excited about making new connections, seeing old friends and generally having a good time.

Then some tiny little kernel of doubt creeps into my mind. Either it's about my ever expanding waistline and how people I haven't seen in a long time will surely notice or it's about an article I recently wrote which I sure somebody there will have read and found completely idiotic and can't wait to tell me why. Or any other of a thousand little quibbling bits of self-doubt. The kernel grows and grows in my mind until it's all I can think about.

This is how I regularly cancel lunches, find excuses not to write articles even though I might need to the money, and generally prove myself completely unreliable. And, in doing so, I create one more very real way to doubt myself. Now, when the next thing comes up, I've got one more piece of evidence to show myself how I'll fail at that, too. It's an inertial cycle of failure.

So, the easiest thing to do - no, the only thing to do that won't further prove to me what I failure I am - is nothing. Outwardly, I appear lazy but inwardly I'm very actively doing nothing. Right now I can point to three things that I'm very specifically not doing.

Somehow, I thought that this argument would be clearer and more convincing. Having written it out, though, it still just seems like a very elaborate excuse for being lazy.

Maybe I should take a nap.


Anonymous said...

Welcome back.
I just added your blog back to my bookmarks.
You're a good writer; your words describe so perfectly what my brain is going through, and I appreciate that very much.

Case in point: "The inertia of depression", it's exactly what I think I have and continue to struggle with. And I too, just like you, often wonder if I'm just a perpetually lazy person.

Hope you continue to write on this blog; I confess I felt not only disappointed but also, insanely envious when you stopped writing, as I took that as a sign that you've been fully 'recovered'. Yeah, my crazy brain knows no boundaries when it comes to thinking crazy shit.

Anonymous said...

Glad you're writing again. You summed up the depression-inertia behavior pretty well I thought.

I've been conducting a steadily increasing campaign of avoidance myself for the past year or so. As a result, I don't receive nearly as many invites, evites, emails, or phone calls. There's just lots of time to myself, which I fill with Netflix and pacing.

I did manage to rouse myself and go camping at the beach for a few days last week, but now that I'm back things have resumed as they were.

Anonymous said...

Please don't stop writing. I need this blog and the connection to others that are living in the Dark Waters of themselves.

Mattin said...

I hear you! I think that's pretty much the worst aspect of depression.

I'm ok with things that I just have to for myself but anything that involves socializing or meeting other peoples expectations stops me dead.

Sad thing is for the most part the expectations are just my construct. They probably have better things to think about.

Anonymous said...

my therapist always tells me I have to break the inertia...I always just feel overwhelmed by what I have to do, so I just don't do anything. I take naps...then I don't have to think about it. It's difficult to change.

miss.complicated said...

Wow. When I read the first line of this post, my jaw dropped. That's the exact question I ask myself every day, but never. ever. ask anyone else, in fear that the answer will be "You are lazy." I found your blog by searching for personal stories of depression, trying to figure out if that's what's going on in my own head, and I'll continue to follow. Thank you for your honesty. I know I'm not the only person you'll help.
Also, thanks to the Anonymous commenter who brought up the advice to "break the inertia." That's advice I can use, right this minute.

Anonymous said...

I struggle with this too. It helps to hear someone else say it. Thank you.

Anonymous said...


Your post portrays perfectly what I'm feeling.
The question, am I lazy or depressed? I still can't answer either. I mean, I have nothing to be depressed about!

The inertia of depression? I'm just discovering this. I'm young and I still have so many things to do: Just survive college for example. I know what I have to do and how to do it, and I sit and plan HOW to do it. But the actual DOING, not so much. This word 'Inertia' seems to explain so many things.
Of course, I might still just be lazy. Not sure :)

I'm not even I'm making much sense here but I just wanted to say that this entry makes PERFECT sense to me. It's like reading what I'm feeling right now and I feel stronger(?) somehow after reading it.

Now I'm going to go see the rest of your blog :)

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I have been previously performing a continuously escalating campaign regarding prevention myself personally in the past year. As a result, I can't receive as numerous invites, evites, e-mails, or messages or calls. There's simply plenty of time to me personally, that we load together with Netflix and also pacing.
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