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To the People Who Mistake My Depression for ‘Laziness’

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You’re just lazy.

Stop procrastinating.

You never follow through.

I’ve heard all of these insensitive statements from friends, family and acquaintances alike. They were all commenting on what they saw on my surface, but they had no idea what I was experiencing in the innermost parts of myself. They had no idea when they made those comments, they were adding salt to the wound that is my depression. They didn’t know, so now I’m going to tell them.

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.

On the days when I’m not me, the days my depression has me down, I am weak. I am weak, tired, discouraged, sad and grumpy. I am all of those things on my bad days, but I am not lazy. I don’t lay around or miss work because I choose to. I’m in bed because my depression has me glued there, feeling worthless. When you mistake that for laziness and point it out to me, you’re actually making me feel like a bigger waste of space than I already do.

To those of you who say I procrastinate, you’re right, I do. When I’m depressed, I put things off because I don’t have the mental energy or stability to handle them. You think I procrastinate because I want to purposefully put things off, but that’s not the case. I don’t procrastinate on purpose. I put things off because my depression has me solely focusing on how I’m feeling, and the way I feel when I’m depressed is awful.

I feel inadequate, unprepared and unappreciated. I feel like I physically can’t get anything done because of what I’m experiencing mentally. I’d appreciate you offering me an ounce of grace when depression has me in its grasp, and forgive me for not getting done what you think I should do.

To those of you who say I never follow through, that’s not true at all. When I am feeling well, I have no obstacles getting in my way from completing tasks. When I’m not well, when I’m depressed, following through with things is difficult. I start something and am so easily overwhelmed and anxious I can’t finish it. Then, when I don’t finish a task, I feel even more worthless and down on myself.

You pointing out my inability to finish tasks when I’m already depressed makes me feel worse. I really wish I could function normally when I’m in a bad place, but I can’t. It’s a part of my depression. It’s hard to act normal and complete tasks as I normally would when I’m excessively tired, extremely sad and feeling bad about myself and my abilities.

I’m not any of those things you have described me as in the past. I am not lazy. I do not procrastinate and I do follow through. All of that falls by the waist side when I’m depressed but that doesn’t mean you are right. It just means you don’t understand my depression or its symptoms, and you clearly don’t know how to react to me when I’m depressed.

I hope this letter brought you knowledge and understanding of my depression. I hope the next time you think I’m being lazy, you examine my symptoms and choose to be supportive instead of critical of me. Please, try to understand my depression because that’s what I deserve. I don’t deserve to be criticized because I have depression.

Originally published: July 7, 2016
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