“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.” – Rikki Rogers
Last year I stumbled upon a twitter thread of M. Molly Backes (@mollybackes) that gave me the words to something that had been plaguing me intensely & consistently for about 2 years. It was a symptom of the depression and anxiety that was the most difficult to explain and even more so to understand. It was the Impossible Task.
An impossible task is described as a task that is generally simple/easy to do, has been done many times before by the affected individual, and has the nerve to change up at whim. I’ve struggled with soooooo many impossible tasks since being married. They have hindered me in more ways than I can count and are honestly really embarrassing which has caused me to isolate so frequently. But in an effort to be transparent and to foster commonality with others who may have similar struggles, I decided to open up about my own impossible tasks.
So I know most people are aware that those with depression/anxiety find things like getting out of bed impossible. This task became extremely difficult for me for days at a time. I would tell my husband that it felt as if I was literally pinned to the bed or that my brain forgot how to tell my body how to move (except when having to go to the bathroom, my mind couldn’t paralyze that! #YoniPower). The various thoughts of pointlessness made it difficult for my brain to reason moving out of the bed or even off of the couch.
In relation to struggling to get out of bed, I found it impossible many days to do regular hygiene tasks like showering, brushing my teeth, getting dressed etc. If I couldn’t find reason to get out of bed, I definitely couldn’t rationalize hygiene. Most people just think “I have to get ready for the day” or “I need to get showered and dressed”, but it’s like my mind would list out all the steps I had to take and I would feel completely overwhelmed. I’d have to move from this spot, take off the clothes I’ve been sleeping in, put them in the laundry basket (which is overflowing because that was ANOTHER impossible task), get to the bathroom, turn on the water, try to find the perfect temperature, step into the shower, wash my body, get out of the shower, dry off, moisturize properly especially because of eczema, brush my teeth, figure out what clothes to wear, put on the clothes, sigh. All of that to still sit in the apartment because sadly, leaving my home or even driving felt like an impossible task most days. I even started using grocery delivery services because leaving my home wasn’t feasible.
And don’t even get me started on the steps for my hair. I was a loose hair natural for years, loved everything about it and had a waist length hair goal (which I basically met!). But once the depression and anxiety hit during marriage, the thought of doing anything with my hair became yet another impossible task. So I decided to cut it. I figured maybe if I didn’t have so MUCH hair, I would be able to manage it. No such luck. I’m loc’d today because I needed a style that didn’t require much effort. After almost 2 years loc’d, I have yet to even wash/retwist them myself because hair upkeep still feels impossible to me (S/O to my loctician and sista Alicia, @sheeshallcreate on IG, for keeping my locs up! If you need a loctician or natural hair stylist in the Philly area she is who you need to see!)
The even more messed up part about the impossible task is that because it is so simple and has been done before, it makes no sense to not only ourselves but to those around us. Imagine how difficult it is to explain to your husband that you can’t seem to do tasks you’ve been doing most of your life, like washing the dishes/loading the dishwasher, doing laundry, vacuuming etc., on top of already struggling to stay at a job. It sounds ridiculous and just presents as lazy. Which of course just threw me deeper into a depressive state. It seemed like contributing to the household in any way was impossible. There was so much friction and tension in our home/relationship because I didn’t have the means to properly express and inform my husband of what I was experiencing and he was confused/frustrated with what was becoming of his wife.
When I tell yall, finding Backes twitter thread on “Impossible Tasks” was a huge change catalyst, I mean HUGE. It may seem simple, but finding the words to explain your experience that resonates with those around you is probably one of the top 3 ways to spark not only joy but healing. It’s like being lost in another country and finally finding a way to communicate with people who don’t speak your same language. It was such a breakthrough to be able to share the thread with my husband and see him have the “Aha!” moment of understanding. Once he understood, he was better equipped to help and support me through these difficulties. It’s truly been one of the saving graces in our marriage.
So for those who have these same or similar struggles, I hope this is one of the keys you needed to open the door for the people around you. Be gentle with yourself, as you are not a failure, you are encountering a battle where the enemy is not only outside the camp but within. This takes more strategy and effort than most, but can be overcome. Even if overcoming still looks like encountering the same/similar attack each day, it’s still worth it to fight as best you can… And if you’re reading this and it sounds vaguely familiar to what a friend, family member or loved one is exhibiting, be gentle with them. Support them by sharing the notion of an “Impossible Task” with them and inquire of what theirs are. Once you know, offer to help them with those tasks. Sometimes all we need is to see someone’s hand reaching out when we feel as if we are drowning…
If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook, you know I really had a hard time with this blog post. It seemed like writing about “impossible tasks” became, in and of itself, an impossible task. I struggled for weeks with this blog, not so much with what to say, but with wondering if folks would even care, which morphed into wondering if anyone really cared about ANYTHING I’ve been writing. Even with the many comments, messages, texts, calls, etc I get of people relating and encouraging, my mind was still able to convince me that no one really cares and that this is a waste of time. This beast is a trip yall. It presents itself randomly and still manages to trip me up. But thankfully I have you all help combat my own negative thoughts and prayerfully I am able to help you all do the same! We’re really in this together!
Let’s Talk! Can you relate? What are some impossible tasks you’ve experienced? If you’ve seen these behaviors in others, does this help view them in a more sympathetic light? Let me know in the comments or send me a message on the “Contact” page. You can also follow me on Instagram and Facebook using the links on this page and connect with me there! Thanks for reading!