There’s a new term that’s been coined relating to the struggle of depression: the impossible task. This means things you know you need to do, but are struggling with because depression can drain your strength. So when you’re struggling with depression and your mental health, how do you push through and keep going?
Defining the Impossible Task
As This Insider reports, the term “the impossible task” was launched on a social media thread from M. Molly Backes, an author. A lot of people with mental health struggles connect through social media, and as this article explains, “an impossible task can be anything – from brushing your teeth to brushing your hair to retrieving and opening your mail – that you just can’t tackle.”
As Backes points out, these tasks aren’t hard to pull off, but depression slows you down to the point where just doing the menial parts of every day living can be tough to pull off.
“For this reason, it’s hard for outsiders to have sympathy,” Backes tweeted. ‘’Why don’t you just do it & get it over with? ‘It would take you like 20 minutes & then it would be done.’ OH, WE KNOW. If you’re grappling with an impossible task, you already have these conversations happening in your brain. Plus, there’s probably an even more helpful voice in your brain reminding you of what a screw up you are for not being able to do this seemingly very simple thing.”
The response to these tweets was immediate and strong. One person tweeted back, “This is so accurate. Reminds me of this description I once heard ‘the cure for depression could be on the other side of the room but you aren’t able to get up to get it.”
Pushing Through the Impossible Task
So now that the impossible task has been defined, how do you push through when so many things feel impossible? The Mighty published a list of “10 Tips for Getting Your Sh*t Done When You’re Depressed.” Number one? The “one hour rule” when getting out of bed is tough. The rule is to be out of bed within one hour of waking up.
Another rule that’s very effective is breaking things down into smaller bites. It’s like the saying goes about eating a hippo, you eat it one small piece at a time. So if something feels impossible, you can break it down into smaller pieces, and take care of one piece at a time.
Another step you can take is just pick one “impossible task” to get done. We all gotta start somewhere, and getting one task done can feel like a real accomplishment on a bad day. As one source told The Mighty, “no matter how small, if I can do one thing in my day, sometimes it helps to break the cycle.”
Another way to get impossible tasks done is write down what you need to do, and give each task a point. The things you dread the most? Give them the most points. Then reward yourself when you stack up 100 points.
Another one in a similar vein? Don’t make a to do list. Write down a DONE list. Even if it’s with small “impossible tasks” like brushing your teeth, once you get a lengthy DONE list down, it really feel like an accomplishment.