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The Truth About 'Lack of Motivation'

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I have been struggling a lot lately with a part of depression nobody seems to believe — loss of motivation to do anything. So many people call this laziness or they say it’s easily overcome by simply getting to work. Only people who don’t care use this “trick,” right?


I’ve always been the good school girl, the girl who gave 110 percent on everything and the one who loved to learn. Now, I don’t even pay attention in class. It doesn’t feel worth it to me. It’s affected me so much I’m falling incredibly behind in my schoolwork, and my grades are beginning to reflect it. I don’t want to be here, but my form of fighting is not working. So I decided to listen to a professional about it and watched a video about loss of motivation made by a woman who has a PhD in psychology. Her solution? Just make yourself do work anyway.

Thank you so much for that bit of insight, doctor! It’s like hearing “cheer up” and “stop being depressed.” Thanks to you for telling me about this option. Now, I’m cured.

Except it’s not that easy.

I do my work. I am just not able to do it well. When I’ve read the same page 12 times, absorbing nothing from it, is that enough effort put forth on my part? I’ve worked at it, but I can’t focus.

Maybe that’s the bigger problem here. They both come together. I sit in class, and I’m unable to pay attention. I’m jittery, and time seems to warp around me. My teachers talk too fast, and despite the fact that I write down more than anyone else, I somehow come out of class knowing less. I’m trying. I’ve put in the work, but my mind won’t function.

I used to always have passion. For the things I loved, I would go to the ends of the earth. Even for the things I hated, I would still put in ridiculous amounts of effort to make sure I’m doing well. These days, I seem to put forth all of my effort into doing things, and yet nothing gets done. It takes me until the last minute to write a paper that isn’t the same quality I could have done last year in two hours. I’m doing poorly on quizzes because I genuinely don’t remember any of the information. I work for hours on end, working late into the night to complete every assignment. The next day, when I’m running on little sleep, I find out I’ve missed something. I don’t know what more I can do.

Depression is dragging me to the floor and beating me. It is making it difficult for me to enjoy anything, and it makes me not want to do anything. Yet, I push through it. I get my work done, and it’s not enough. I pass out, exhausted at 4 a.m., and none of my work is good enough.

The next day, I’m worse off for it, because I can’t focus even more. It takes me twice as long to get something done half as well. I’m not sleeping. I’m constantly panicking about doing poorly, and there’s nothing I can do about it. My mental state, already deadened by depression, is deteriorating, which makes my work worse, and further down I go. I have fights with friends, and I can’t find my way out. Trying to climb out of the hole I’m in is burying me in it. Although I’m fighting to get out, I can’t.

I am 19. I have depression. I have a future, and I have dreams for it. However, I can’t seem to reach them. I have opportunities surrounding me, but I’m not strong enough to handle them anymore. Lately, it’s feeling like I’m not strong enough for anything. I feel alone, and my old fallback, my work, is something I cannot seem to manage. I don’t know how to move forward in this world.

I’m going to keep fighting. I’m going to keep trying because what else can I do? I don’t see a way out. It feels like I’ll be down here forever, struggling just to keep breathing, but that’s not an excuse for a poor essay. It doesn’t seem like a good enough reason for why my homework isn’t done.

So it’s my silent destruction. Because telling a teacher doesn’t change the fact that I have responsibilities. It doesn’t change my inability to handle them. It doesn’t change.

Image via Thinkstock

Originally published: September 26, 2016
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