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9 Things People With Depression Do That Seem 'Lazy,' but Aren't


It’s hurtful to assume someone struggling with depression is “lazy,” especially because often, the opposite is actually true. While it’s nice every once in a while to have a lazy day doing nothing, often people with depression want to do things. They want to be able to complete tasks, work and thrive. But they can’t. This isn’t spend-a-Sunday-morning-watching -TV lazy — it’s a weight on your chest that keeps you in bed when all you want to do is get up, and we shouldn’t conflate the two.

As Mighty contributor Madelyn Heslet described in her piece about people mistaking depression for laziness:

To those who call me lazy, I first want to assure you I am not. I’m usually a determined and highly motivated young woman. I say “usually” because I’m referring to the days when my depression doesn’t have me by the neck. You’re used to seeing me on my good days. I hide from you on my bad days because of what you say to me. When I’m not acting the way I usually do or doing the things I normally do, you deem me lazy. I’m not lazy.

We asked people in our community to share with us one thing they do when they’re depressed that can sometimes come across as lazy. If you can relate, you’re not alone.

Here’s what they shared with us:

1. Spending a Lot of Time on Your Phone

“I’m always on my phone when my depression gets worse. I use it to keep my mind occupied. Everyone who sees it thinks I’m lazy, but it’s really just a coping skill I use to keep my mind from repeating things over and over again.” — Gena G.

“Spending hours and hours on my phone just to distract myself, but people think I’m just another clueless millennial addicted to their phone.” — Kavita K.

If you can relate, check out our list of 13 things to do on your phone when you’re struggling with your mental health.

2. Falling Behind on Housework

“I don’t wash up for weeks, literally until every utensil and plate is used… sometimes it even gets mouldy. I just can’t bring myself to do it. I want to, but my body is just tired and wants to sit and do nothing or lie in bed whilst also looking a mess, greasy hair and unbrushed teeth.” — Rosemary W.

“I don’t clean house when my depression is bad. It’s not laziness, it’s because I don’t have the energy or desire to. Then I become more depressed because it’s a mess which then stresses me out. Even taking a shower requires more energy than I have.” — Jessi F.

“Falling behind on housework. Spending a lot of time on my phone to distract myself. I look lazy AF. But trust me, I want to do stuff. I hate the house being a mess. I don’t even have it in me to do anything I actually like to do, either.” — Annabel R.

“Housekeeping is out the window. I’m not lazy, I just… can’t.” — Rebecca V. 

If you can relate, check out our list of 15 “hacks” to making cleaning easier when you’re struggling with depression.

3. Oversleeping

“Sleep during the day. It’s the only time I fall asleep easily. I struggle to sleep at night I run out of energy and need to nap in order to find any energy again.” — Michaela G.

“I sleep till noon, no matter what time I go to bed or how well I sleep. I’ve never been able to get out of bed. It’s like an invisible force is sitting on my chest making me stay in bed.” — Crystal W.

“I want to sleep all day because I feel very tired even when I slept for hours. My bed seems to be my shell.” — Natasha C.

If you can relate, read “What You Don’t Realize About My Habit of Oversleeping.”

4. Resting/Taking a Lot of Breaks

“Rest. Literally sounds ridiculous that someone would tell me I’m lazy because I choose to rest when I’m depressed instead of throwing myself into the deep end that will make me more depressed. Resting helps me recharge faster, and because I’ve done this more, my depression episodes don’t last as long.” — Sloane S. 

“When I am not at work I take breaks in between tasks. I lie down with my heating pad and just rest. I set an alarm in case I fall asleep to make sure I am on time for my next task. I still get done what I have to, but conserve energy on my low days so I won’t get overly tired and quit. I allowed my depression to get so bad once that my house was disgusting and my friends who helped me move saw it and I was so mortified for them to see it, but too exhausted to clean. I swore never again, so I force myself to clean even if it means lying down after each room.” —  Charly B. 

If you can relate, check out this list of 24 motivation tips to get through the day when you’re depressed.

5. Spending Extra Time in Bed in the Morning

“I lie in bed in the morning and think about the things I should be grateful for… I have so much, fortunately. I have a strong relationship with my husband and he helps me through this.” — Dona D.

“I just lie in bed all day and stay in my pajamas. I often even don’t take showers for days because it’s just easier not to.” — Jalisha J. 

“Even when I wake up early, I have to spend time still in bed before I can get up. I need the time to curb the anxieties and rally as best as I can for the day.” — Phaedra M.

If you can relate, check out this list of 24 things you can do when depression keeps you in bed.

6. Neglecting Personal Hygiene

“Wear the same clothes a few times before washing them.” — Caitlin E.

“Not showering, not wearing makeup even though I feel ugly, not bothering to cover my self-harm scares because I simply don’t care. Not washing my hair even though it constantly looks wet. So basically I stop caring about things I’m normally very anal about.” — Stacey S.

“I don’t do my hair, I don’t do my makeup, and I don’t dress how I would want to. I shaved my head to not have to deal with my messy, dirty hair and I don’t do my makeup anymore even though I love to because it’s just too much energy. I also just throw on whatever clothes are closest to me when I have to go to work. Depression has just taken away everything that makes me, me.” — Gwendolyn R.

“Don’t wash my hair for weeks. It is obvious that it has not been washed, but I don’t care. Don’t wash clothes. Just wear the same pair of jeans all week. Little things that only people who really know me see: not wearing any jewelry whatsoever, staying in my room a lot on my bed, and not getting up for much of anything.” — Alexandria A.

If you can relate, check out this list of 15 “hygiene hacks” people turn to when they’re depressed.

7. Living With a Parent

“I ended up moving back into my mum’s house at the age of 31 because I had such bad depression, I couldn’t eat or wash, etc. My mum had to bathe me, like when I was a child. I’m now 36 and still in recovery. It’s hard to love myself when so many people have hurt and abused me.” — Kam S.

8. Not Being Able to Work

“I haven’t been able to work even part-time since I had ECT in 2005. People tell me I’m lucky not to have to work, which just pisses me off because they don’t know what I go through.” — Laura R.

If you can relate, you’re not alone. Read: 16 Secrets of People Who Aren’t Working Because of Their Mental Illness

9. Eating Fast Food

“Don’t get out of my PJs, order take out or grab fast food for meals because I am to exhausted to cook.” — Heather F.

If you can relate, check out these 12 tricks for feeding yourself when you’re depressed.