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Depression and Why I Feel Like a Failure

I’ve been having a very hard time making myself take a shower. There is nothing like knowing that your hair needs to be washed, trying to make that happen all day, and then realizing, at bedtime, that you’ve failed, again. Now, as I’ve remarked earlier, we don’t want to shower when we’re sick and this is just a part of the grand disease known as depression. I get that. But somehow, that doesn’t make me feel like any less of a failure.

It’s the Little Things that Seem Overwhelming with Depression

Depression makes you feel overwhelmed when trying to do little things like take a shower. This can make you feel like a failure. Here's why you're not a failure.I have problems with lots of the little things. Opening mail, for example. You would think that tearing tiny pieces of paper and reading letters would be relatively simple, but it’s not – at least, not for me. For me, I just think about the mail and I get overwhelmed. I actually have to talk myself into actually opening little envelopes.

And while this could be driven by, say, an inability to pay bills, for me, it’s not. For me it’s just mail, in and of itself. For whatever reason, I just can’t do it.

Feeling Like a Failure at the End of the Day

And I know I need to do things like shower and open the mail. These are normal, everyday activities that need doing. But so often, at the end of the day I find that I haven’t done them – again. And this knowledge of failing at the little things is so depressing. I tend to beat myself up about it.

It’s a Symptom of Depression

As I mentioned earlier, feeling overwhelmed by even tiny things is one of the things that happens to people who are depressed. I totally get this. But this doesn’t make me feel any better. This intellectual knowledge doesn’t seem to seep into my emotional center. It doesn’t seem to chip away at the feelings of failure. But then, I find so often that intellectual knowledge is incapable of beating something as powerful as depression.

Don’t Let Depression Remove Your Compassion

What I think I need to remember, though, is that if I were someone else, I would feel compassion for that person. I would feel like being kind to that person. I wouldn’t consider them a failure. I would consider them someone with an illness that needed help.

And if I would exhibit that compassion and kindness for someone else, then I deserve it too. I need to not let my depression destroy my compassion – for myself. Because these problems really aren’t my fault. They’re an illness. And not overcoming a particular illness symptom on one day isn’t failure – it’s just admitting that the disease was more powerful than me – on that day. Tomorrow is another day. And with my compassion, I can view that day as a fresh slate onto which to write success.

3 Tips for Getting Things Done Even When Depressed


You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or Google+ or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter or at Bipolar Burble, her blog.

Author: Natasha Tracy

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42 thoughts on “Depression and Why I Feel Like a Failure”

  1. Thank you for posting a great article! I have struggled with similar tasks being so overwhelming and then I too come down hard on myself. It is also hard to explain to others without depression just how hard these ‘simple tasks’ are. Considering that I am also what is called high functioning it can make it even more difficult to explain to others. Yes, I am able to make sure that bills are paid on time, I can have meals prepared for the kids, help the kids as needed, run errands, etc but at the same time it takes a lot of self talk to do those things and then I need lots of down time to just recuperate. It is hard to explain how I am able to do stuff for my kids, but the simple task of showering just can’t be done at times. Love reading this blog and just seeing how I am not the only one who has to struggle with depression.

  2. I so relate, at least to the part about not showering and the mail. I can laugh about it now! In the present day I no longer suffer most of the time. Maybe one day a month at the most (hormones). I started by giving myself atta-girls for what I was doing and shrugging off what I wasn’t as no big deal. It sounds cold but if you can accept the distress without giving away your power….. And remember depression is anger turned inward. clinical or situational it’s all suppressed anger (and it’s not at you, what situation or person hurt you to the point where you couldn’t (because you weren’t safe enough) even admit to your feelings let alone express them. If you can tap into that…..look out! Oh the feelings won’t kill you, even though it feels like they will, try not to be afraid of them.

  3. If I don’t have to work or otherwise go out, I don’t bathe. I could but the payoff (clean body) does not seem worth the price (effort). I have to look normal when I go out for work or to the store. Otherwise people will notice me and I don’t want to attract anyone’s attention.
    I don’t even know any normal people to tell if this behavior is with acceptable parameters to be considered normal.
    I have no desire to make new friend. I have not met anyone new and become their friend since high school (I am 45 years old).
    I think that when normal people look at depressed people and hear the symptoms we exhibit, they think depression is real and that there is a problem, but 15 minutes later they think it is our fault. That somehow we are weak people. That we could be normal if we tried.
    There is a little truth in this but if your body only stands 5’2″ tall, even if you stand on your tippy toes, you will never be 6′ tall. Somethings just cannot be done.

  4. Ms. Tracey, I feel the exact same way. The whole mail thing has been plaguing me for years – not because I cannot pay bills, but just cause opening them and deciding what to do with them feels overwhelming – just as you stated. For the last few months I have been forcing myself to shower, which grosses even me out – it takes me hours and hours of self-cajoling to get myself to go shower – which is weird cause I love showers and baths! And to clean the house? Takes weeks of internal yelling. Right now my front hall is packed high with recycling and garbage to take outside because I “cannot be bothered”. I hate that I cannot seem to beat this by myself but am a bit comforted that I am not the only one going through this sort of thing. And yes…that, the seeming inability to get past this stage of life and the difficulty in seeing any way out is completely making me feel like a failure!!

  5. I am so happy to read this! Not that I am happy that any of you are struggling, it just felt good to have someone understand! I did manage to bathe and get dressed today and felt so much better after I did. But days go by when I just cannot force myself. I have the same thing with garbage, as Bewildered Bug. Got it out today, but it was a full leaf size bag and a kitchen trash bag full and it’s just me. I tell myself each time that I am not going to let it happen again, but the pattern just repeats itself.

  6. I totally get this. I feel like a failure quite often. I don’t know why it’s so hard to take a shower, clean the house, go to the grocery store, cook a meal, or make a phone call. Sometimes it feels difficult to do anything! I think it helps if we can avoid comparing what we can do to what others can do(or even what we have been able to do in the past).

  7. I also have a problem with showering. If I don’t have to go out I put off showering until I have to go out. I really don’t understand except that it is part of depression. I will literally let myself run out of the basic food like milk, bread etc. before I get in the shower to go out.

  8. I struggle with showering and doing any of the basic daily things others take as due course. I feel a failure every day that I don’t accomplish these simple things. It is comforting to know others share this struggle but disturbing to me that it seems to be so common among us with bpd. I wish everyone the best in their endeavors.

  9. Natasha–great article!! I want to share the video portion with my mom, who has no computer. Any way to get the transcript?

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