I need a better word than "lazy"

(I’ve gotten here by way of Greg Baugues’ talk on Developers and Depression, which I got to by way of reddit. So, umm, hi.)

So, the short(er) version of my story is that I’ve been being treated for depression for about 16 years, and diagnosed with ADD about 2-3 years ago. Overall, my depression seems to be (mostly) under control with my current level of meds. I still struggle tremendously with various issues, though.

The greatest issue I seem to wrestle with is feeling as though I am a lazy person. I procrastinate terribly (and consistently). I waste great amounts of time that I could be using to do things that I enjoy. In fact, that’s really a crux of things for me: I generally am not doing the things I enjoy (and, for that matter, not really enjoying most of the things I do). Since I tend to waste whole evenings (like this evening, for example), I tend to think of myself as lazy. I’m lazy because I didn’t do anything for the 5+ hours I’ve been home this evening.

I have hobbies that I don’t just enjoy, I LOVE. But I barely touch them. I don’t avoid them completely-- I just don’t do them most of the time. For example, I study Russian, but I only do my homework the day of my class, cramming it in the few hours I have between work and class. I do crafts, but they sit untouched for weeks at a time. And for me, developing is as much a hobby as a profession… I have a journal full of ideas for coding projects that I haven’t made any effort to start, and I have bug reports for existing projects that have lain untouched for ages.

So I feel lazy. That word again, lazy.

My therapist and I are on a quest to find a better word. The reality is, I do get a fair amount done: I manage to keep up with my job’s demands on my time, I make regular calls to my parents who live in other states, I keep my apartment (reasonably) clean, etc. But I have these chunks of free time that I just can’t account for when they’re gone. Not to say that I black out, that isn’t it. But this evening (Tuesday), for example, I got home at 5:30, and aside from eating dinner and about an hour spent watching the Rachel Maddow show, I honestly cannot tell you where the rest of my evening went. I can tell you this, I have nothing to show for it. No crafts-work, no code, no Russian.

So I appeal to the collective wisdom here: what is a good word for this, if not lazy?


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I usually refer to these phases as “low functioning”, where the default state is to just not do anything and great effort is required to achieve anything. It’s a label that isn’t overloaded with causation, whereas “lazy” sounds like something you’ve chosen to do.

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Not feeling able to take pleasure or be interested in things you used to enjoy is a one of the symptoms of depression, yet you also said that you feel your depression is mostly under control.

That leads me to wonder if maybe it has been far worse for you than it is now, yet perhaps it’s not quite fully resolved either.

Low-grade ongoing feelings of depression which manifest as disinterest might be a sign of a condition called dysthymia. It’s possible to have episodes of intense depression as well as an underlying dysthymic condition, a phenomenon called double depression.

So maybe a better word for ‘lazy’ (disinterest) is ‘dysthymia’.

On the other hand, our society has a real over-focus on us having to be doing something all the time, we have to something to show for how we spent our time. And if we don’t meet this social expectation, we get to feel ashamed.

Sometimes it’s completely cool to just BE.

So maybe a better phrase for lazy is ‘just going on being’.

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I once discussed this with a therapist and he posited that rather then being lazy, my constant state of worry that I am worthless and underachieving actually kept me busy to the point of exhaustion. Laziness is often a word ascribed to depressives by those ignorant of the illness. I no longer think I am lazy but I still think I have little to offer.

Is watching TV or a film lazy or am I assimilating cultural knowledge?

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