The Impossible task could be something we've done several times, and this is why people find it hard to sympathize with it.
Mental illness is just as serious as any other illness and needs to be treated with proper medical care. Sometimes, you have no idea what's happening and even the smallest thing can seem so overwhelming, and that's exactly what writer M. Molly Backes talks about through a Twitter thread that has now gone viral. She talks about a symptom of depression that not everyone knows about, but many can relate with. She talks about coming across an “impossible” task, something that could be quite minor, like a chore or an errand, that seems too overwhelming to deal with.
Depression commercials always talk about sadness but they never mention that sneaky symptom that everyone with depression knows all too well: the Impossible Task. pic.twitter.com/lPix73WO2d— M. Molly Backes (@mollybackes) August 28, 2018
However, the longer you put the task off, the more impossible it seems to become, and after a while, it seems like you have a whole home filled with such tasks. Molly wrote: "Depression commercials always talk about sadness but they never mention that sneaky symptoms that everyone with depression knows all too well: the Impossible Task." She then proceeds to explain the Tweet, writing: "The Impossible Task could be anything: going to the bank, refilling a prescription, making your bed, checking your email, paying a bill. From the outside, its sudden impossibility makes ZERO sense."
Wow, this is eye-opening. Was diagnosed with depression but I dismissed it because “I’m not sad!”. But I have SO MANY “impossible tasks”. I had kind of realized that dishes piling up was a sign I was struggling but this really helps me understand what’s going on. Thank you!— elemental1025 (@elemental1025) August 29, 2018
Also, she mentions how people can be insensitive about mental health. "The Impossible Task is rarely actually difficult. It’s something you’ve done a thousand times. For this reason, it’s hard for outsiders to have sympathy. “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." Of course, the voices in your brain are of no help as they keep screaming about how incompetent you are.
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"— Sarah Radz (@mssarahradz) August 28, 2018
"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." But, as Molly says, these tasks can actually change you. "Another cool thing about the Impossible Task is that it changes on you. One time it might involve calling someone, but maybe you can work around it by emailing. Another time it’s an email issue. Then when you think you have it pinned down, you suddenly can’t do the dishes."
Even I accumulate too many Impossible Tasks (or optimistically make too many plans), the weight of it shuts my brain off and I sleep.— Rebecca Zainea (@RebeccaZainea) August 29, 2018
I slept most of the last two days. An obscene amount of hours.
She advises people to be gentle with themselves. "If you currently have one or more Impossible Tasks in your life, be gentle with yourself. You’re not a screw up; depression is just an asshole. Impossible Tasks are usually so dumb that it’s embarrassing to ask for help, but the people who love you should be glad to lend a hand." If you know someone battling depression, ask them if you can help. Every small gesture matters to them. "If you have a depressed person in your life, ask them what their Impossible Tasks are & figure out ways to help—without judgment. A friend once picked me up, drove me the two blocks to the pharmacy, & came in to help me refill a prescription. TWO BLOCKS. It was an amazing gift."
Dishes and the mail. I can take the mail inside, but I can’t sort through it. I have skipped meals so as not to create dishes that will become Impossible.— Cameron Ishee (@CameronIshee) August 28, 2018
"The one good thing about struggling with Impossible Tasks is that they help you to be gentler & more empathetic with other people in your life because you know what it’s like. You know. The trick is to turn that gentleness & empathy toward yourself." Now, it's not all that bad, is it? Also, as Molly clarified, "1) "Impossible Task" is not an official name, just what I've always called it. A psychiatrist might use the term "executive dysfunction." 2) Experiencing this does not necessarily mean you're depressed; it can be a side effect of many conditions."
I needed to see this today, my impossible task is grocery shopping...something I've put off for I think 3 to 4 weeks I don't even know anymore.— Toryana Vestal (@ToryanaVestal) August 28, 2018
She also gave out some amazing life advice: "Take care of yourself, even if that means cutting major corners in your life, or not being "productive," or living on Netflix & takeout for a while. It's okay. And try to let others take care of you, too, even when you don't believe you deserve it. Remember that people want to help you because they love you, & allowing them to do something for you is its own form of kindness. Don't rob your friends of the chance to feel good by helping you do something that's impossible for you but a cinch for them!"
Mine is anything that requires a phone call, even really important things like booking the doctors or therapist. Even calling my mum.— that girl from new zealand (@bunoot) August 29, 2018
Finally, she posted that in no way should you ever think about giving up. "Whenever you're tempted to beat yourself up for being "lazy," remember that you fought harder to get out of bed & get yourself dressed today than the average person could even imagine. You're not lazy. Your mountains are just that much steeper. Keep going. Some days are just impossible! And you *could* fail, but that's okay. Personally, I think we should all practice failing more often, so the fear of it stops having such power over us."
The number of times I have asked friends to come over help me clean my depression room because the idea of cleaning gave me crippling anxiety is slightly embarrassing but I’ve never regretted reaching out for the help. And no one judged me either.— M (@mothpaperwords) August 28, 2018