My biggest obstacle in life is motivation. It has a massive impact on my work, university, social life and health. Depression drains me of every ounce of motivation and it can hit me when I least expect it. Some days I wake up and I don’t have the motivation to get out of bed. Some days I know I have a task to complete and I don’t have the motivation to even get the resources to start it. Living without motivation is like I’m just walking around as an empty shell.
I identify certain days as a ‘depression day’ or a ‘anxiety day’ and that is just my mood for the day. I am totally aware of when it is happening now, but I can’t shake myself out of it. I’m much more effective at combating my anxieties than a depressive episode, but that is purely because of a lack of motivation. When I don’t do something because I’m too anxious, it’s usually something I want to do or I can talk myself into it by dismissing the anxious “what if” thoughts. When I don’t do something because I’m not motivated, I can’t force myself to suddenly be motivated out of nowhere and I can’t magically lift my mood.
The weirdest thing about motivation is that I can’t predict when I’m going to be unmotivated and it really feels like there is nothing I can do about it. I can fake it to a certain extent, but I know that I’m not really into it. It’s like I’m inside a bubble that’s standing between me and everyone else and I can’t get out to do anything productive. My work completed while in an unmotivated and depressed state of mind isn’t going to be up to the standard that I would normally produce. But seeing that lower quality work is what sets me back and makes me unmotivated the next time. This cycle is what’s happened for the entirety of the third year of my degree. I feel completely burned out. I’m only completing it because I know I have to or the last three years have been a waste.
However, that lack of motivation doesn’t just dictate the big important scary deadlines, it also influences all the little everyday tasks, decisions and errands that everyone does. The toxic cocktail of depression and anxiety has dictated the decisions I make in my life for years. It can be as insignificant as not asking for help in a shop because I’m too anxious to speak to someone or deciding to walk past that shop because I can’t go in at all in the first place, even when I know that I need something from there.
In the last few years, I have overcome these obstacles multiple times to make huge steps of progress to improve my own mental health. I had to go through the airport on my own, got my connecting flight in Finland and eventually I got to South Korea. I navigated the country alone and I put myself in situations speaking in a foreign language to strangers. I also did a zip line if you couldn’t tell from the featured image on this blog post. I had so much freedom and it was so exhilarating, empowering and exciting to experience that personal character growth that I never would have imagined a few years ago. Overcoming these obstacles has been a turning point for me and I’ve booked my next solo travel adventure to Thailand for this August.