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Help! I Can't Decide if I’m Lazy or if I’m Struggling with my Mental Health

Laziness and Depression can manifest in very similar ways – not getting things done, lying around, wasting time, procrastinating, etc. It can be hard to distinguish between the two when you are looking at it only from the outside – the overt behaviour (the behaviour that is visible to the eye).

Do you remember one instance in your life when you were emotionally disturbed? The worst moment of your life, maybe. Can you remember how it felt like - the heartache, the hopeless feeling, the lump in your throat, the heaviness of it all? Maybe you were bawling, maybe you didn’t shed one tear. But do you remember how miserable you felt? You probably didn’t feel like eating, couldn’t fall asleep at night, couldn’t get out of bed in the morning, didn’t want to talk to anyone, didn’t want to go to work/school, didn’t want to do anything, you felt exhausted.

That’s what people with depression feel like on most days.

Now can you remember an instance from your childhood, perhaps summer

vacations - you don’t have to be anywhere or do anything. No exams, no

studying, no projects. Just waking up with the absolute freedom of doing whatever you willed to do that day. If you didn’t have such a day as a child, what about as an adult? Definitely you must have had at least a weekend to yourself with nothing to do. Do you recall having come across some task you had to get done but it was so nice to just be the way you were – jobless, free, just lying around, chilling.

You had no particular reason to procrastinate but you had no particular reason to get done with it immediately either. So, you chose to let it go. It would get done when it needs to get done.

That’s laziness.

If someone didn’t know you too well and met you on both these instances, they would probably not make out much of a difference seeing the way you behaved. But you know on the inside how bad one of these instances was.

The number one difference between depression and laziness is that people with depression don’t want to feel the way they do. It feels miserable for them to not be able to get up and get things done. They are probably beating themselves up on the inside for being that way. They want it to stop. They wish for it to go away. But it doesn’t.

Being this way is not a choice in depression. It’s the result of losing interest in doing things. They no longer are able to experience things like joy, liking things, rewards etc. They feel like there is no purpose or meaning to life, so what’s the point in being productive at all? Even things they previously used to enjoy no longer spark any excitement in them. They feel this way about everything. Nothing matters anymore because they have lost all motivation. Everything just feels impossible and pointless to them.

Laziness on the other hand, is a choice. You know that something needs to get done and you can do it right now, but you can also do it later. And when later comes, you will do it, and you can do it well. But in depression, people push all work for later and will only be able to do the bare minimum that needs to be done in order to keep functioning.

You needn’t be grieving the loss of a loved one, or be going through a break up to justify feeling depressed. More often than not, depression creeps up on you out of the blue. You may not really be able to trace it back to any one concrete incident or situation. It can just happen out of nowhere. And snapping back into feeling okay again is simply not possible.

Although people with depression can have their good days where they get a little more done than usual, they are quite aware that this is not their best. Whereas, laziness can be justified to an extent because nobody can really be productive or working a hundred percent all the time. You need breaks. But these breaks end and you can snap back into productive mode.

If you’ve been struggling with sad mood, low energy levels, and no longer seem interested to do anything for two weeks continuously, the chances are that you are not just lazy. Reach out and talk to a mental health professional.

Depression can feel crippling but you needn’t go through it feeling alone. When you are struggling with depression you don’t feel like doing anything. Your house might be a mess, your dishes might be piling up for days, your laundry might be full, you might have not taken bath in days or even brushed your teeth, you might be wearing the same clothes for several days. None of these things are your fault. You are going through a hard time right now and things can get better. But you need help. Seeking help can be scary but the benefits of talking to a therapist or a counsellor far outweigh the discomfort.

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