Manual Walking

jny published on
2 min, 367 words

Categories: Mental Health

Every time I try to describe my lack of motivation to other people, it’s amazing how I always see the same look of a lack of understanding. They just have a hard time comprehending not having the drive to do critical things. And I can’t say I understand it fully either. All I know is that something just isn’t there. It’s not a case of not wanting to go to work on a Monday, it’s having no desire or drive to brush your teeth, or eat, or even take your daily meds, even though you understand that there will be consequences. It’s a bit like hunger, in that you don’t decide to be hungry, you check what your body is telling you. You don’t decide to have a base level of motivation, you just have it. Or you don’t.

An analogy came to mind while I was on a walk a while ago. I realized just how crazy the human body can be at acting as cruise control for walking. Sure, I may feel the footsteps, but I just think “I want to go forward”, not “I want to move right, left, right, left, right, left” and so on. I don’t think about the act of walking, the muscles I need to move or how to move them, I just think about where I want to go and my body (unconscious nervous system) does the rest.

Depression is like not having that cruise control. It’s like having to manually think about moving each foot, how I will move it forward and down, how I will push with the back foot, and then repeat. In fact on bad days, it can be like having to move my legs with your hands, picking it up and setting it forward and then moving to the other leg.

It makes walking not impossible, but it makes it difficult -sometimes extremely so- to do anything else. It takes extra energy just to fake the motivation that should be there but isn’t. And depending on how little motivation I am bestowed, some days all that translates to is concentrating on getting up and showing up with no energy left for anything else.