Anxiety and Depression Make Everything an ‘Impossible Task’

Jason Weiland

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Do you know the feeling of being depressed and anxious and realizing there is something (or things) you must do standing in your way? Maybe it’s something you do every other day with little trouble — shower, cook breakfast, take medication, drive to the store, see the doctor, play with your kids — anything! For some reason, no matter how much you know you must do it, you just cannot get it done.

You can’t even bring yourself to get started.

On Twitter, writer Molly Backes coins the phrase and explains the concept of the “impossible task” in a now-viral thread.

If you are like me, you deal with the impossible task all the time but don’t know what to call it. Maybe you heard your doctor or therapist call it “executive dysfunction,” but the phrasing was too convoluted to remember. You know how hard it is to get through your day or even start it when faced with one or more of these tasks.

Back in the days before I found an anti-depressant cocktail that helped and I realized that my depression responded to me changing my attitude, I dealt with impossible tasks all the time. Some days I still do. Today it was writing the first word of my first essay of the day.

But I’ve been getting better. I stopped being such a defeatist, and my depression responded enough for me to see my suicidal depression change to something that wasn’t life-threatening.

How Do I Complete the Impossible Task?

Backes outlines some great ways to get past the impossible task, as do some of the people commenting on the thread.

The thing that worked for me the most was the hardest to do because I felt worthless and lazy already, and it’s embarrassing to be befuddled by something simple.

Nevertheless, the first thing I always do is ask for help. Thankfully I have the support of my wife who is understanding all the time. She may not always respond how I want her to, but she loves me and will help if I ask. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying,

“Babe, I am having trouble getting the courage to go pick up my medication at the pharmacy. Can you go with me?”

If faced with an impossibility, ask whoever is around for help

But what if I am alone?

I often forget that I am very lucky now to have support. But there was a time, not long ago, when I had no one and I had to fend for myself. Depression is a lonely illness, and there will be times when you are completely alone in your pain.

First — don’t beat yourself about it. Recognize that just because you have an impossible task doesn’t mean that you are worthless or lazy. Depression would like nothing better than if you started feeling hopeless and gave up.

Try to find a way around the problem. Backes gives an example that may hit close to home for many of us:

I feel this so much.

Thank goodness people text more often now because I never answer my phone. My impossible task most of the time is getting myself to answer when someone calls. Even thinking about talking to someone gives me anxiety. If it is someone important to me, I often text them back and tell them that I am unavailable to talk but would still love to know what they needed. Most people will be glad to tell you in a text.

Find a way around the problem instead of agonizing about it for hours.

Be Gentle with Yourself

There are some difficult things in life and depression is only one. Anxiety is the main reason why I have so much trouble doing things that should be easy. You could have several things causing you to be this way. Don’t discount anything.

If upset because your friend on Facebook snubbed you and you don’t think you can manage to call in sick to work, don’t dismiss your feelings. Recognize that what you are feeling is valid, and there are underlying causes to everything.

If you’re having a day where everything seems like an impossible task, then you need to take a day off to practice a little self-care. Even if there are things you must do like getting the kids to school or finishing a contract so you can get paid, be gentle with yourself and do the things you know will help you get through your crisis.

Ask for help if you can. There is nothing embarrassing about doing so. Find a way around the task. Be kind to yourself. Know that your feelings are valid.

You can and you will get through this day. You have been 100% successful so far.

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Writer and advocate interested in mental health, health, family, culture, creativity, and success.

Los Angeles, CA
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