purpose does not cure depression

Purpose Does NOT Cure Depression

Recently, @MattLaneWrites did the Quarter One Worst Takes of Personal Finance. All the bullshit “advice” made by ignorant people. Well, we had some real crappy ones this time, but there was one that pissed me off to a ridiculous extent: “There is not one person that has a purpose and is depressed.” 

To illustrate what the inside of my head looked like upon reading this:

Now, I have not been silent about the fact that I have and struggle with depression. It took YEARS for me to get to the point where I could admit that I had a problem. It took even more years before I could consider that anti-depressants might help me (they super did). Why? Because I genuinely thought that if I tried hard enough, I could just get rid of it. Well, that’s not how it works. It’s part of me and probably not going anywhere. It’s a mental disorder that I have and treat it as best I can.

So, for someone to have the GALL to say some shit like this truly infuriated me. So much for me to unpack here, but let’s start with the basics of this. First, let’s talk about the word “purpose:” 

What is “purpose”?

Purpose is described as “something set up as an object or end to be attained” or “a person’s sense of resolve or determination”. Essentially, it is having a goal and working to achieve it. Some synonyms for “purpose” are reason and goal. So, in this particularly bad take, we have someone saying that if you have a goal, you are not depressed. If you have a reason, you are not depressed. If you have determination, you are not depressed. This is a load of bullshit. 

I have no shortage of goals or purpose in my life. I have met my challenges head on and I have made pretty much every goal I have set out for myself. 

  1. I made it my goal to get through college and get a bachelor’s degree.  I graduated in 2012.
  2. I made it my goal to get into a real job where I was using my degree and I was doing that by the end of 2012.
  3. I made it my goal to get out of that job once I realized that it was toxic and not for me (retail sucks). I did that. 
  4. I made it my goal to pay off my student loans. Did it. 
  5. Then the goal was to become debt free sans the mortgage. Done. 
  6. Then I made it my goal to sell 30 homes in a year. Done.
  7. Then sell 40 homes. Done.
  8. Then sell 50 homes. Done.
  9. Make over $250,000 in one year. Doing and going higher.
  10. Be in a happy relationship. Currently happening. 😊 

None of this would have happened without resolve or determination, either. I am one of only three black women on my sales team and I consistently rate in the top 10 of my colleagues despite my being in a lower selling area than many others. I am working towards paying off my mortgage and becoming financially independent, two of the biggest goals I have ever set for myself. My goal for both of those is freedom. 

And yet… 

I STILL HAVE DEPRESSION!!! Something that, according to this genius, should be impossible, yet here I sit. Almost like it doesn’t work that way. Why? Because depression does not take away your purpose or your goals, so you still have those. 

“Almost like it was here all along.”

What does depression actually do?

What depression does is take away is your motivation, your energy, and your will. Some symptoms of depression (and I am copying and pasting directly from The Mayo Clinic here) are:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies, or sports
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking, or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

Do you need to have all of these to be depressed? No. If any of these are severe enough to cause a noticeable impact in your daily life (even if only you notice them), then you could have depression. 

When you are depressed, it can take double or even triple the effort to do something you could typically do fairly easily. Some days are normal, and you go through your day pretty “normally,” whatever that is. Others, you barely have the energy to take a shower and leave the house. It ebbs and flows. Living with this can be incredibly difficult and how to manage it varies from person to person. It can be temporary where it is due to a change in your life. It can be permanent, and you learn to manage it. 

The hardest thing for me to accept was that my depression is not going anywhere. I worked hard to get to where I could be classified as having a “mild” case of depression. At the end of the day, all you can do is move forward whether you want to or not. 

Purpose & Depression

I would say that people with depression have more “purpose” and determination than anyone gives us credit for. We do the same things as everyone else, even though it takes significantly more energy to do so. We achieve our goals even though we have no motivation. We get out of bed on days where that feels like the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest, and for the days where you just can’t, because they do come, that’s fine as well. It’s okay to set up camp and just be for a bit. 

Most of the time, we tend to do all of this without anyone noticing. You are not alone, and you are not the only one. I see you because I am doing this shit too.

So to sum this all up: People with depression have more purpose than you can imagine, and this person can go fuck themselves.

From One Geek to Another

From One Geek to Another is a writer and creator of http://FromOneGeekToAnother.com. She is working towards financial independence and plans to FIRE in 2030. Also blogs about mental health, real estate, and whatever else comes to mind.

10 thoughts on “Purpose Does NOT Cure Depression”

  1. People insisting that mental illness is completely different than any other type of illness and can be magically willed away is infuriating. Thank you for this real and needed take.

  2. Thank you for this. I often wonder if I am depressed. I also have ADHD and there is a lot of overlap in symptoms. I have purpose galore and a fairly high achiever and yet… I don’t feel wildly happy and motivated all the time. Statements like Matt’s are toxic and only feed this culture of achievement over all including health.

    1. Lack of motivation and dulled emotions are definitely a symptom of depression. Took me a while and a lot of therapy to accept that I just had depression and it wasn’t just in one specific situation.
      Matt is cool. He does the bad takes bracket. Not sure who made the comment itself. He always crops out the names so we don’t go on a rampage against them. Probably for the best since I totally would. 😅
      Thanks for reading.

  3. I found you through All-Star Money, and I am so glad you posted this. Even if others never ‘get it’, It helped me to hear you say all this. Those of us who struggle with lifelong bouts of depression can still beat ourselves up about it, even when we know better. So thank you, this helped me today <3

  4. Well said and explained. I have chosen not to share my depression diagnosis with most people because most people do not know how to process this information and then put distance between us. I hope as information becomes more available the stigma will lessen.

    1. I totally get not sharing it. I share it if it comes up just because want people around me to know it’s okay to be depressed. Also, that depression does not look the way they think it does since most think of me as fairly happy and joking all the time. That’s just what I choose for them to see. I am hoping the stigma lessens as well. Especially given the last 18 months or so.
      Thanks for reading.

  5. Thank you for sharing your personal and factual thoughts so well blended. Thank you for being open about your journey. 100% agree with your last paragraph!!

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