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Can't vs Don't Want To?


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What's the difference between "can't" and "don't want to"? How do you know?

I feel like, for myself, if my response to a situation is that I don't want to, well, suck it up and do it anyway... muscle through... But, if it's something I actually can't do, maybe I could let myself not do it with less... internal self-flagellation (maybe not though).

Depression causes me to feel, often, that I can't do things when it is more accurate to say I don't want to. I don't know how to tell the difference.

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It can be difficult to tell the difference. Sometimes doing something which you're afraid of can be a positive thing in the end. But not always. For me it's usually going out socially. I can't do people and it's all going to end badly. But often it doesn't end in disaster, so I guess it was "don't want to" but it was good that I did. Other times I've wished I'd just stayed at home and hidden under my duvet.

Sometimes you really can't, but it's hard to know if that's just the depression talking. Sometimes going out has lifted my mood when I've expected disaster. Sometimes going out really has been a disaster and left me in a pit of depression. You won't know unless you try. Which sounds to me like a reason not to try because it's all going to go wrong and I'm better off not trying and not knowing. But then I am a negative prick.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/14/2018 at 6:09 PM, Geek said:

What's the difference between "can't" and "don't want to"? How do you know?

I feel like, for myself, if my response to a situation is that I don't want to, well, suck it up and do it anyway... muscle through... But, if it's something I actually can't do, maybe I could let myself not do it with less... internal self-flagellation (maybe not though).

Depression causes me to feel, often, that I can't do things when it is more accurate to say I don't want to. I don't know how to tell the difference.

All I feel like I can do lately is just daydream at the tv most of the day. I need to clean my house but I think it’s just gotten too bad. But it sure feels like I cannot do it. I have to seriously force myself to shower and that takes me pushing myself all morning til around two o’clock. I also force myself to walk Abby for about 15 minutes but the only thing keeping that happening is knowing how intensely miserable she would be not getting at least one in a day. It’d be abuse not to, really. 

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i tend to go by how much damage is done before and after doing the task. your rules may vary, but mine are something like this: if before, it makes me cry or gives me a panic attack, i usually call it a "can't". if after, it gives me anxiety/significant negative feelings for longer than a day or so, or i have a sense that the cost vs. benefits of doing the task don't add up, it becomes a "can't". also, anything that makes me want to self-harm makes me very cautious, because there's a higher chance that i'll end up doing damage to myself if i muscle through.

"don't want to" tasks tend to actually make me feel better once i've done them. they also make me feel more apathetic beforehand rather than acutely anxious. they may be uncomfortable during, but the relief/satisfaction of having done them makes them worthwhile.

i think it's important to note that "can't" is not permanent. sometimes i can't go to class because of panic, but i'll probably be able to go next time. i used to be totally incapable of using the phone, but i can now. keep trying, and try not to force what's hurting.

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