How can I tell if my mother's nagging is helpful in my fight against depression?
November 3, 2010 7:21 PM   Subscribe

I am 21 years old. I've made little academic progress since high school, largely due to depression (hypomanic bipolar). My mother talks to me like I'm almost, but not quite, a lost cause and an albatross around my families' neck, slowly bankrupting my mother and raiding my sister's college fund. How do I know if my mom's negativity is affecting me and if she should stop, or if I'm just taking normal criticism too hard?

Compounding factor: I have very slight Asperger's syndrome traits. Really, borderline.

I feel like I'm struggling to become a functioning person, but slowly making progress. As in, glacially. I've been depressed since 2007, but I feel like medication and therapy have licked most of the symptoms. Instead of feeling terrible for not much reason or existential dread, I now feel terrible for concrete, real things. Namely, the fact that I'm poorly motivated, and do poorly in school and at chores. I feel like I'm doing better at community college lately (I'm only taking one class this semester after nearly flunking the last two part time semesters), but chores are difficult for me, even though they are simple. I find myself dreading them and putting them off, until they're either not done or delayed so much they're done poorly. They're simple things, varying from 15 minutes to an hour, like vacuuming a few rooms, making dinner, or mowing the lawn.

My mom has recently started threatening to send me to live with my strict grandparents so that I can be taught some discipline. Or sending me to take care of my aging grandparents who have dementia and need a nurse. Or sending me to the local mental health hospital. She feels like the fact she has a 21 year old who can't do chores is a serious issue. To be honest, I'm almost a bit offended that she doesn't even consider kicking me out an option, which seems to be the traditional way to deal with slackers who parents think aren't college material. I feel like she considers me a child.

I'm not sure if I'm lazy or depressed, but I don't mean to be malicious. I love my family. My mom is big on moralizing my condition, but I've tried to make it clear I don't do it to hurt her. I don't think she thinks I have the condition deliberately, but I think she thinks she can guilt me out of it.

How can I better motivate myself? Can I better motivate myself? Does the fact that most of my depression is cleared up but I'm still not functioning mean that I should be considering more intensive or esoteric treatments, like lithium, ECT, insulin, etc?

As I left my four year college on good standing, I'm thinking about going back, even though I left to both save my mom money and try to get a better academic foothold. My grades have actually been worse since I left, and I was wondering if going home would be better, but I feel like my mother's negativity is making it a toxic environment. Is there a good way to gauge whether my mom's threats to send me away, complaints about how I'm wasting her money, and incessant lecturing about how I need to ignore my emotions and just do things are counter-productive?
posted by MuppetNavy to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Many people find it difficult to motivate themselves to do chores and schoolwork. At 21 I was hanging on to University by the skin of my teeth, and my living space was pretty much a horrible pigsty. Don't feel too bad about yourself.

Can you get a job? This will give you something to feel accomplished and proud of other than chores and school, plus will give you an income, which you can use to escape your mother's moralizing. Having a job an some liquidity will also make you feel less guilty about 'leeching' on your parents, as you can start contributing to the household.
posted by sid at 7:32 PM on November 3, 2010

It sounds like you and your Mom have similar goals for you- why not try working with her to make those goals a reality? Or, ya know, move out. You say you're offended your Mom doesn't consider kicking you out- you don't have to wait for her to do it, if you want out.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:33 PM on November 3, 2010 [4 favorites]

It sounds like your mother is frustrated. Can you blame her? She is basically subsidizing someone who is unwilling to contribute to the household, due to lack of motivation.

So perhaps I oversimplify, but how to motivate yourself? Get up and just do it. You said the medication has helped, so get up and help the woman. She doesn't really owe you, as you are an adult at 21 years of age, and the fact that she is allowing you to live there is pretty generous on her part. If you want to 'get better', you have to put in some effort and not depend on medication to suddenly make everything bright and shiny. There is no OTC or prescription bottle of motivation. If you can't find it within yourself to get off your butt and help out, then move out.
posted by bolognius maximus at 7:38 PM on November 3, 2010 [4 favorites]

I don't really know anything about your condition and how it would affect your ability to motivate yourself or take care about yourself. BUT, the first thing that stood out to me is that it sounds like your mom is 100% financially supporting you and is damn resentful about it. Is there anything you can do to take over some of the financial burden to at least reduce her nagging about that? For example, take out student loans in your name (you will still need her to cosign or provide financial info on the FAFSA but they will be in your name) to pay for classes or move out and get a roommate or pay for your own meals?

For what it's worth, lots of 21 year olds don't do chores. Visit any college campus and you'll find tons of proof on that one. On some level, you learn to motivate yourself to do those things when you live on your own and don't have parents nagging you to do it. The fear of roaches and perpetually dirty laundry can be a pretty good push.

I will say, though, that your mom is right on one thing: sometimes you just have to do things even when your emotions say otherwise. Sometimes it's just good for you. The more you practice, the better you'll get at it.
posted by joan_holloway at 7:42 PM on November 3, 2010

Your therapy has maybe not been as useful or as targeted as it could have been if it did not get you to a place where you can do 15 minutes of chores and one class per day. It sounds like you worked on not being overwhelmed by your emotions and that's definitely the place to start, but maybe you didn't work on other stuff like how to manage your time without causing additional stress. That's okay, I'm just saying there is still work you could do.

There are lots of kinds of therapy. Perhaps you can try something more life skills based; CBT can definitely help arm you with some motivational hacks. Maybe you don't even need therapy again, maybe you just need someone like an older mentor, guidance counselor, pastor, whoever you can confide in who can model responsible life skills without judgement.

Lots of adults who do not have Aspergers or depression or ADHD still have trouble getting things done. You don't need to frame it as 'my depression keeps me from doing the dishes' if there is good advice you can use on getting the dishes done that is aimed at non-depressed people. Getting the dishes done is getting the dishes done, you know? Your mom is right that at some point the damn dishes just need to be done, but berating you over it is obviously not helpful. You need someone to show you the steps, and your job is to follow through the best you can, keep asking for help if you need it, and practice until it sticks.
posted by slow graffiti at 7:44 PM on November 3, 2010

As my mother and my grandmothers before me would put it.... Force yo'self.

You are making progress. That means that you are capable of continuing to make progress, and of moving forward with your life. I know that when I was depressed, I lost sight of a lot of things, like my curiosity and my desire to believe that I could do anything. I got complacent. That is the number one thing I have seen in my friends and family members who have also struggled with depression: we allow ourselves (yes, ALLOW) to become used to our situation. Mind power is an incredibly powerful force. If we allow the chemicals in our brains to persuade us that we no longer wield the power and strength that our minds afford us, we are doomed to be mired in believing we are not going to move past what we're in.

What helped me was this: in addition to going to therapy (which I still go to, just to keep my momentum going), I woke up every day and wrote out a manifesto for myself. It was this:

"I am brave, I am strong
Thoughts of strength and success
Bloom in me, bloom in me
I am cool, I am calm
I am sweet, I am kind
I am love and sympathy
I am charming and magnetic
I am pleased with all
I have no enemies, I am the friend of all.
Today, I will not allow myself to view my soul as depressed. I will move forward. I am brave, I am strong. I will move forward."

And damn it, I forced myself to believe it every day. I forced myself to be curious, to believe that I could move forward. And day by day I did. You must start to view yourself as something other than depressed. Do not let it define you. You are a person, and you are moving forward. That is all any of us can hope for.

As for your mom? Tell her that you want to make a difference and that you are struggling to motivate yourself. Let her know again that it is not malicious, and that you feel terrible that she is looking at it that way. Ask her to provide you with some suggestions, and take notes. Then, look at each of her suggestions, and try to work with your therapist to make them work, one at a time.

Repeat this to yourself over and over: I am brave, I am strong. I can move forward, so I will move forward. I will make progress. I will be exactly who I want to be.

You can do it. Sending you thoughts of support. :)
posted by patronuscharms at 7:50 PM on November 3, 2010 [4 favorites]

f you want to 'get better', you have to put in some effort and not depend on medication to suddenly make everything bright and shiny. There is no OTC or prescription bottle of motivation. If you can't find it within yourself to get off your butt and help out, then move out.

Try to be a little more compassionate towards someone who is at the point of considering electro-convulsive therapy (that's what "ECT" stands for) and other extreme treatments for their depression.

To the OP, do what you can to minimize any difficulties this causes your parents but don't let your mother's myopia keep you down or hold you back, just keep plugging away. Remember that there are a wide variety of medications that you can keep trying with a good psychiatrist.

One thing that I find helpful for both the depression and lethargy is mixed amphetamine salts, the generic of Adderall XR. It's by no means a standard treatment but my own psychiatrist has been willing to try it out, especially because I also have some ADD symptoms. If you try it I would say make sure that you're very familiar with its long-term effects and that you're on a stable dose before relying on it at all, though.

Also, check out to see if there are any clinical trials for MST, magnetic seizure therapy, in your area. It's an experimental treatment that is looking promising as a less-damaging, lower-side-effects alternative to ECT.
posted by XMLicious at 7:55 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think you are ideally suited for dropping out of college and getting a retail job. You will have to be motivated if you want to keep a job (but the stakes won't be too high), and that demand and the structure of work will kickstart good habits that you can take back to school with you in a year or so when you're more ready. There is real dignity and stuff to be learned from even a crap job like working at a movie theater, if you manage to show up and do it right every day and take home your paycheck. School will be there later, but you mom is right that right now it sounds like a waste of money. Learn some coping skills, go back to therapy if you need to, earn some money instead of draining it on failed classes, and you and your mom will both be better off.

You mom probably isn't wrong, but that doesn't mean she's being helpful.
posted by slow graffiti at 7:59 PM on November 3, 2010

Your mom is threatening to send you from one fixed living situation (where she is taking care of you financially) to another (where your grandparents would be taking care of you financially) and you're insulted that she isn't considering kicking you to the curb? Something seems amiss with this logic. I think your mother is at the end of her rope but is trying her hardest NOT to kick you to the curb.

Just because you're not motivated to clean your mother's space doesn't mean you won't be motivated to clean your own. Don't think of a lack of motivation as a need for "more intense" therapy. It's very difficult to do something when you know that if you don't, someone's going to come along and do it for you. But, IMO you're 21 years of age and you should be taking care of yourself. Yeah, you have bipolar disorder (so do I), but you said that you're taking meds and therapy for that. If you're thinking of going back to college, consider going back under your own steam (funding yourself through grants, scholarships, etc).

Also, I suggest for information and support about your disorder.
posted by patheral at 8:20 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Do you get exercise every day? Are you eating and sleeping on a somewhat regular schedule? I know those are very basic questions, but if you're messing around with your sleep pattern and living on toasterpops, you're depriving yourself of the tools you need to start making positive steps.

So, find something to do that ensures that you have to be at a certain place at a certain time every day. Picking up trash, walking a dog, volunteering, etc.. That gets you on a regular schedule, while making you useful/neccesary/important to someone, other than yourself.

And once you get that down pat, branch out. Clean up something without being asked. Learn to bake something or cook a meal. Doesn't have to be perfect, does have to be your idea.

And then a job, and school, and you're out of the nest and back in the world.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:36 PM on November 3, 2010

I think you are ideally suited for dropping out of college and getting a retail job.

I think this is worth a try, but I just wanted to add you don't have to "drop out" -- you can look into just being "on leave" for a while. Someone I knew in undergrad took like 20 years off, came back, and finished his degree. So you don't have to feel like you're giving up on anything by taking a normal 9-5 job for a while.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:46 PM on November 3, 2010

I agree with slow graffiti that putting school on the back burner for now and working a low-pressure job would probably be the best thing you could do right now. When I was in college, I had several really bright friends who for various reasons couldn't make school work on the traditional 4-year, full-time schedule-- the ones who are doing best now are the ones who put college on hold entirely for a year or so, dealt with whatever was stopping them from thriving, worked food-service or retail jobs, figured out what they really wanted from higher education, and then made it happen. No point wasting money on tuition if you're not getting anything out of it, right?

A propos of nothing, you're quite a good, clear writer.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:48 PM on November 3, 2010

As an addendum, it might also be easier to get things done for a neutral third party, like a boss, than for either your mom or yourself. When you've only ever known someone as an adult, you're naturally more likely to engage with them that way. Plus, you have more agency in a working relationship: you enter into it and if it turns out to be terrible, there's an established, more-or-less easy way to leave it. Just knowing that can be a little empowering.

(And finally if you haven't read that MeFi favorite, The Now Habit, I definitely recommend borrowing or buying a copy.)
posted by en forme de poire at 8:56 PM on November 3, 2010

Congratulations: You are an adult. I'm not saying this with sarcasm. You are now going to start on the process of taking on an adult's life. There's lots of good advice here, but the mindset is a big thing. Be ambitious about it. Make lists of the things that go with being an adult that you look forward to having--like your own place. Make plans for how you're going to get those things. Explore real ideas for your future--not just taking classes, but what your career is going to be. These things will not make your mental illness go away, but they will keep you moving forward, even if sometimes you have setbacks. Remind yourself often how *great* it is going to be when you have your own place, your own money. This process is going to end with things being better than they are now, with you having more options and a brighter future. Focus on that. It doesn't replace the hard work, but it keeps you working.

I was really anxious about driving when I first learned to drive. I avoided it at all costs. I was not very good at it when I did it. I didn't get over this until I actually got my license and was finally able to see all the good things that driving could get me, and that I really was capable of operating a vehicle without someone watching over my shoulder. I think life is like that. Nothing is a substitute for appropriate treatment for medical conditions, physical or mental, but appropriate treatment for medical conditions is also not a substitute for a real plan to have a life that is not just different but better than the one you have now.
posted by gracedissolved at 8:59 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Honestly, you still sound depressed to me. Not as badly off as you were, but still depressed. If you can only handle one class right now, I don't think you're up to going back to a 4-year school either (and I'm not sure academically they'd want you back right now if you're doing worse anyway). And if you're not up to doing chores, does your mom actually think you are up to 24-hour nursemaiding of the elderly? Was she on crack when she thought that one up? If you want to try getting a job, it's not a terrible idea, but I dunno how up for that you are if you're having a hard time handling what's on your plate right now.

There's a time for bootstrapping, kicking your own ass and sucking it up, but you don't sound like you are remotely mentally there yet. I don't know about ECT and the like, but that's something you have to talk to a doctor about anyway.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:18 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Leave school for awhile. Get a job. Save up enough to (and this is key) move OUT.

You're 21! Time to live your own life. Your mental health is a big issue, and you're wise to be wary of what you can and can not do, but you'll never learn to be responsible when nothing is on the line. You don't show up for class? Who cares! You don't show up for work? You're FIRED. You don't vacuum the house? Nothing happens but a guilt trip! You have roommates and you don't do the dishes? There's nothing to eat off of and everyone's pissed at you.

Sounds like you wish your mom would kick you out because you're looking for some consequences to your actions. Living on your own is a lot of work, but I think it would be good for you. When you're working and paying rent you're actively forging and securing your life every day. You work so you can pay rent: if something trips up the mechanism, everything else goes out of whack. There's a lot of incentive to keep everything in line - especially since working means earning money for fun, too, and having your own place means making everything just the way YOU want it. (Trust me, it's easier to clean your own bathroom than your mom's.)

A job can be SO much more fun than school! Even silly retail/restaurant jobs, of which I've worked a ton. You learn to work with other people (some of whom become friends) to get REAL things done. It can be an enormous feeling of pride to come home at the end of the day and think on what you accomplished - AND you get paid!

I imagine it's intimidating to think about leaving the house, when it's currently the only structure you have. But if you get a job, find a room, fuck it all up, get fired, move back'll be right where you are now. You are very wise to be conscious of how you're mentally/emotionally doing, so it seems to me you'll be able to say "I need help" if things head south.
posted by missmary6 at 10:33 PM on November 3, 2010

You, your mom, and a therapist need to sit down together and have a yack. I have had what you have and I understand how you feel like you are underwater....but honey, with proper meds and proper structure and proper home support you can and WILL be successful.

Your mom's strategy is counterproductive but she needs to hear it from a professional.

Go make that appointment!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:54 AM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]

I agree with everyone who says that you need the structure and feeling of accomplishment and responsibility that comes with a job. But I think you need to start small. Start with one chore everyday. From that chore, you'll get a feeling of accomplishment. It's a great feeling. I swear, when I'm down, the best way to make me feel better is to pick a task I need to get done and just do it. Your mother will also see that you're trying. That's where you'll find motivation. From the increased sense of satisfaction and better relationship with your mother.

Your mother's response may not be the kindest way to you to deal with the situation, but given the circumstances, it's not unreasonable. I also think it is a big deal that you are 21, living at home off your mom, don't have a job and aren't willing to help out around the house. If you want her to start treating you like an adult, you have to act like one. You say your inaction doesn't come from a place of malice, and of course it doesn't. But you are not treating your mother with any kind of empathy or respect. She is a real person, who would rather spend her money on herself, and who doesn't like doing chores either. Try to look at this from her point of view.

I agree that it sounds like you're still depressed, and I think you should go back into therapy, but don't use it as an excuse to be helpless. It's hard, but depressed people can still hold down jobs, and can still do their own dishes.
posted by Tooty McTootsalot at 7:17 AM on November 4, 2010

Oh my God, are you me? This sounds hauntingly familiar. Hang in there. This is the most difficult time -- detaching from your parents and moving out into the world as an adult and an individual. It can be a time of intense disorientation and mental strain, but you will get through it.

Your mom may love you, but it doesn't sound like she's on your side. Her interpretation of your situation sounds demoralizing, judgmental and unhelpful. As long as your attempts to motivate yourself are obedient to her interpretation and based on beating yourself up for not being better/healthier/more successful, they will probably fail.

Learn to be on your own side. If necessary, find someone else to be on your side -- pay them if necessary! That's what therapists are there for -- and try to internalize their messages of support, encouragement and understanding. Life is hard enough without the people who say they love you kicking you while you're down.
posted by stuck on an island at 8:02 AM on November 4, 2010

No 21-year-old should be as dependent on mom as you are. No mom should be stuck still raising a 21-year-old. You've been lucky thus far to be in a situation where you can live like you're 15 and not starve to death, but now it's time to be a grown-up.

Ask yourself what you would do if your mom was home tomorrow, then do it.
posted by coolguymichael at 8:48 AM on November 4, 2010

No 21-year-old should be as dependent on mom as you are. No mom should be stuck still raising a 21-year-old. You've been lucky thus far to be in a situation where you can live like you're 15 and not starve to death, but now it's time to be a grown-up.

This is perfectly reasonable if you think mental illness = pathetic malingering. Otherwise it's just mean-spirited bullshit.
posted by stuck on an island at 9:55 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hi everyone! Just thought I'd pop back in to clear things up! (Boy, it's nice that sockpuppets let me interact with answer-ers)!

Getting a retail job to go with the college degree was part of the plan for this semester (hence the one class), but jobs have just been dead lately. People my age appear to have been really sideswiped by the economy, what with all the even more qualified 30 year olds also looking for work lately.

That said, I have been looking for a job, both to make my mom and myself happy. I'm broke, and I'm pretty much dependent on my mom for both luxuries and living expenses, which is a real financial and emotional drain on us. It's like I'm a six year old asking her for money to buy candy, only this time it's asking for money to take the train to the city. Bigger person, bigger expenses, naturally. And despite the negativity, she's actually pretty good about loaning me money that I can make back later via doing big projects for her (she'll throw me a $20 here and there for big things), and selling stuff I don't need.

She's also got other stresses, too. I mentioned I have very mild asperger's. You may know these things run in the family. My sister has Autism bordering on Asperger's. People with these in-between conditions are hard to place. Worse, she has a high IQ verbally, but a very low IQ mathematically, so she has trouble fitting in academically in high school and most college programs. So, she may go to college, she may go to a special school to teach her lifeskills, or she may just simply get job training or vocational school. Most of these options are expensive, but worth the money. There are a ton of options for her, but none of them seem quite right. Hence, my mom is a nervous wreck. And the people who help her with guidance at the school are falsely optimistic, just because they're glad that she'll graduate and no longer be their problem.

I guess she's really a great and supportive mother, in spite of the really venomous lectures. She's under a lot of real, tangible stress. Sorry if that's a bit corny and cliche! Still, it does hurt when she gets angry at me, and I do feel like she unloads a lot of that stress on me. And unlike her, who responds to stress by working harder, I find I tend to escape or self-soothe in response to stress by relaxing or going on the internet.

Also, I've lately started reading a book I found on a similar depression thread on Reddit (started by another person, not me). It's Self-Directed Behavior by Watson and Tharp. I seem to be a good candidate for self-help books, because David Burn's books helped me to feel better emotionally and be more socially outgoing. Hopefully this new book will help me behaviorally!

One more thing: The class I'm in is abnormal psychology, which I'm taking 85% as an elective, although I might consider getting a psych major just to get college over with as I already have a lot of psych credits. I'm getting a very good grade in it, especially relative to my other classes. I might also consider food science or computer programming, as those are bigger passions, and I don't think I could interact with clients as a social worker or psychologist as effectively as the average person would.
posted by MuppetNavy at 10:08 AM on November 4, 2010

Response by poster: PS: As for how I'm able to go back to 4 year college: I was in good standing when I left about 18 months ago. I had a depressive episode, largely due to bad medication. You know how there's a chance that a new SSRI will make you worse off? That happened. I took to my bed, didn't leave my room for classes, stopped answering the phone and emails and only ate when I felt like I would pass out otherwise. My roommate, in retrospect, was kind of a jerk to not tell the RA that I was being mopey and weird as heck.

Then, a good friend heard from his network of friends that I'd disappeared from classes, and he noticed I was looking gaunt and morose on the rare occasion I did leave my room, and called my mother to pick me up.

Anyway, I feel like taking some easy classes and focusing 100% on academics might be a better solution than trying to be a good housekeeper for my mom at the moment. For one, professors and the department of differing abilities would be more supportive (if I remember to ask for support, naturally), and I'd have my friends around me to keep me going, instead of just malingering on my negative thoughts and my mom's fears.
posted by MuppetNavy at 10:15 AM on November 4, 2010

Response by poster: Doh! Where I said malingering, I meant "ruminating!"
posted by MuppetNavy at 10:16 AM on November 4, 2010

Move out. Be independant. You'll contribute to your own household because you'll have to. Your mother is enabling your un-motivation.

To do that first save up and stop making your mom pay for anything that's a luxury (i.e. anything other than food and new clothes every 5 years).

Even with Asbergers, if you are functioning, you should be able to move out. don't use Asbergers as a blame crutch (not saying you did, just warning you to be conscious of not doing so in the future).
posted by WeekendJen at 1:25 PM on November 4, 2010

Dude, I was an RA, and I am seriously side-eying your former roommate for not telling anyone that you weren't faring well. That's no bueno on so many levels.

Can I just say that I think that you're in a much better place than you may realize?
I have so much faith that you are going to be successful in whatever venture you embark on in the coming weeks because it is clear you've got a great head on your shoulders and a renewed drive to do new things. Maybe it would be good to sit down with your mom and tell her exactly what you've told us... That you know how stressed and pressured she is, and that you are so grateful (if not a little flabbergasted) that she's supported you in your time of need. If you tell her you want to get back to a place where you can return the favor and help lessen her stress, I am sure she will respond positively to that. You can be a team, working together to get you where you need to be, your sister where she needs to be, and your mom to a place where she knows her babies are good to go.
posted by patronuscharms at 1:29 PM on November 4, 2010

Anyway, I feel like taking some easy classes and focusing 100% on academics might be a better solution than trying to be a good housekeeper for my mom at the moment.

First part of that sentence rocks. I'm glad to see that you are motivated to get back into school.

Second part of that sentence sucks. Doing household chores isn't being your mother's housekeeper. It's what mature adults do when they coexist in a household. They contribute in some way, through income or chores or both. Seriously. Until you realize this, you will more than likely continue to be treated like a child by your mother.

I don't mean to be so harsh, but this question hits home. I wish you all the best of luck in getting out of this depressive episode and back on your path.
posted by Tooty McTootsalot at 2:31 PM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think Ideefixe has the right idea. You don't mention much of a life outside of your college class and your house. Do something that gets you outside, go for walks, join a college club, volunteer for a cause, or your local pet shelter or what have you. It'll help you gain some perspective, or at least some fresh air. And moving around is good for the soul.

Getting motivated with any kind of mental non-neurotypicalness is a tricky issue. First, make sure your mental health issues aren't interfering with your lack of motivation. When I was taking meds for depression, it helped with my overwhelming feelings but also made me feel intensely apathetic. Finding the right medication and dosage can be a long road for many people, but can mean the difference between functioning and not-functioning. From your post it sounds like things are basically working out but if it continues to feel like you are up against a brick wall then the answer could lie in changing your medication. Remember that ultimately you're the only person who can tell if your medication is working for you.

Otherwise being motivated is more of an intrinsic thing, while some people can be motivated by external factors, like deadlines, the most lasting and powerful motivation is when you want to do things because they mean something to you in some way. Don't do things for other people, do things for yourself, or for their own sake, or for the sake of getting things done. Start small, with doable goals and timeframes for what you want to do. When you succeed at doing those, think of larger goals, break those up into small goals, and timeframes and so on. (This would be an excellent thing to discuss with your therapist by the way.)
posted by everyday_naturalist at 7:19 PM on November 4, 2010

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