Why is everything so difficult to do? Why does everything require so much energy? Am I really depressed or just lazy? I often wonder the answer to these questions. Some people choose to be lazy and live perfectly happy lives. Others are completely mentally healthy but have trouble with will power. You can be lazy without having depression. I think the answer lies in motivation and discipline. Both are required to meet a goal and having difficulty with either one of them results in failure or delayed achievement of said goal. Because both have the same outcome, it’s hard to tell the difference between lazy and depressed from the outside, but there is a difference. After all, depression is a clinical condition, laziness is not. I think if you are lazy, you have trouble with discipline, if you are depressed, you have trouble with motivation.
What is the difference between motivation and discipline? Discipline is the course of action leading to a certain goal. You use reason to determine the best-course of action for the long-term. It’s the assertion of will power over basic desires. Motivation is the inner drive to behave or act in a certain manner. It’s the “why” behind a goal. Motivation is based more on emotion while discipline is based more on reason. Motivation and discipline work together. Motivation sparks interest in a goal initially when that wanes, discipline takes over to achieve the goal.
I have no trouble with discipline. I know what I should do to better myself or to reach my goals. My problem is motivation. Motivation is the fuel you need to be disciplined. I have trouble finding the motivation to do anything, even the things I enjoy, like drawing. I know I should get out of bed in the morning, it’s the right thing to do for me, but there is no motivation behind it. I am disciplined though, so I get up and do the right thing anyway. It’s like this with everything. I force myself to do things because I know it’s what I “should” do. Forcing myself to do every little thing is exhausting not to mention miserable, so sometimes I just can’t push myself. Then I start thinking I’m lazy and I don’t want to be a lazy person, and that starts the negative self-talk cycle.
Why do I have trouble with motivation? Because I do have depression. A common misconception is that people with depression are sad all the time. That’s not the case. Part of depression is the inability to feel emotions, it’s emptiness. There’s no happy, no sad, no drive or interest, it’s just numbness. Motivation is based on emotion, no wonder we have trouble with it!
What I’ve been doing to help with this problem is to keep a routine. In a routine, you decide ahead of time what you are going to do. In the moment, it is much easier to react, than to respond. A reaction is an automatic action influenced by an external situation, like a routine. A response requires more thought, reason and control of your emotions. If you are already committed to do something, then you react by doing it. This is hard at first, but after a while, a routine becomes automatic and you start to think about it less and just do it. It allows you to rely more on discipline than on motivation, which works well for people with depression. Lately, this hasn’t been working for me. My supervisor is notorious for being unorganized and now that she is back on the grid, my life is changing at a moment’s notice. It’s really hard to keep any kind of routine. So now I’m looking for another method to help with my motivation problems. I’m going to try a few different things. I’ll let you know how it goes.