For When You Can’t Function


Now here’s a subject I know a bit about – not being able to function. By which I mean not being able to engage in normal activities like writing or cleaning or answering emails or having conversations which require saying something other than “uh huh”, “you don’t say” and “I need to go lay down for a little bit”.

So, my apologies for the long silence. And double apologies to those of you whose emails I haven’t answered. I’ve been too focused on enduring to figure out things to say. Sending pages and pages of uuuuuuugh and grrrrrr and uroawooonmnuuuurg didn’t seem appropriate.

It’s always uncomfortable and a bit embarrassing to find yourself unable to do anything other than endure, but it turns out that enduring is a skill that God holds in high regard. Romans 5:3 says that endurance leads to character which leads to hope. Timothy 2:12 says that if we endure, we will reign with Christ. You look at me and see a big blob doing nothing, but God looks at me and sees me being prepared to rule the universe. Or something.

Anyhow, my point, such as it is, is that enduring is something we have to be able to do sometimes. Life is hard. Depression’s a nasty bitch. Beds are soft and brownies are comforting.

So, for those of you who are struggling to endure, I’d like to share this bunch of words I miraculously strung together that I use to keep myself enduring for just a little bit longer. I hope they help you as well. If they don’t, that’s totally cool. Feel free to say, “eff off, Rebecca. You have no idea . . .” Just do it in your head and not in the comments because while I totally understand, I totally don’t want to hear it.

Anyhow. Here you go:

You are fine. And you can do this. Maybe not right this very moment, but that’s OK. You don’t have to be able to function and overcome every single moment of your life. You’ve been able to function and handle life plenty of times before and at some point, you’ll get a few moments where you’re able to do that again. And that’s enough. A few of those moments are more powerful than all the hours when sucking air takes all of your strength.

When you sit down and find yourself unable to move again, it’s OK. You don’t have to fight it. You don’t have to feel weak or guilty. It will pass. We all get too sick to move sometimes; this is no different. Just sit and when the moment passes, you’ll get back up. No use beating yourself up in the meantime. Nothing wrong with just sitting for a spell.

Don’t tell yourself that you can’t function any more. You can. Just not right this moment. It’s OK. You don’t have to function well all the time. There are times when you function just fine. And sometimes you may not be fully functional, but you’re also not immobilized. If you can’t move or think or function at the moment, it’s no big deal. There are other moments, moments when you don’t have to think to breath or struggle to move while the pain blanket is smothering you. And in those moments, you are downright amazing. It’s no wonder you sometimes hit a wall – being that amazing takes a lot out of a person.

It doesn’t matter if right this moment, you can’t feel or believe it, but you are fine. Don’t fall for the guilt and condemnation. You don’t owe anyone a clean house or folded laundry or three blog posts a week or dinner at 6 or a face with make-up on it or anything at all except, so far as it is in your power, to be here tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. So just make that happen and it’s enough. The people who love you want you more than they want anything else in this world.

Don’t tell yourself that no one loves you and that you’re not important. It doesn’t matter if you can’t feel it or receive love right now. When the wind blows against the window, you don’t say it’s not real because you can’t feel it moving against your skin. You know the wind is blowing even when you can’t feel it. It’s the same with the love people have for you.

Not being able to feel or receive love or joy or the good of the world doesn’t means you are wrong or broken. It’s not always a sign that you need to change or do something. I’m sure a massage isn’t particularly enjoyable to someone who’s been hit by a Mack truck either. It can take a lot of time and meds and healing for the pain to get thin enough for the good to get through.

Sometime today or tomorrow or the next, you will see someone who is joyful. A child who made a painting for you. A dog who is so happy you’re home that they can’t control the urge to jump and run. A teen who laughs until they cry at a joke about bodily functions. A spouse who’s elated at having nailed the presentation. When that happens don’t regret that you can’t feel or share their joy. Instead, take a moment to stand in awe that such joy exists. When all you can do is endure, you understand better than anyone else what a miracle and wonder it is that joy exists at all.

24 thoughts on “For When You Can’t Function

  1. I can identify. During the months that led to my divorce I had whole days I can’t now actually remember living through, though clearly, I somehow did. Fortunately I was alone for much of that time, didn’t have others depending on me, so I’m sure it’s much rougher for you. But you spoke truth. Some people are fortunate enough never to experience times like you described above, so the sustaining words seem superfluous to them Not to me, or to millions like me. Thank you for sharing them.

    1. As I sit watching the coconuts grow I am amazed at how you nailed it and how much I needed to hear that. Thanks Chica

  2. Thanks, i have to do the same kinda self talk. This “non functioning” thing happens a lot, and can last for days, or weeks, even months on and off, without me being able to completely shake it off. “Don’t fall for the guilt and condemnation” love it! I may have to print this off, and keep it by the bed, where I lie and feel crappy, overwhelmed and exhausted sometimes πŸ˜‰

  3. Thank you. I have not been able to function for a few years. Medication never helped. Only blindly smiling and getting tasks “done” and working constantly. Depression and anxiety always take over my mind. I hope one day I will wake up happy and able to take on the day without the first instinct of crawling back into bed.

  4. This was really really great! Thank you! I love your honestly, and it really helps with the guilt and self-condemnation I struggle with when I feel so bad “I can’t function!” I love what you said about not owing anyone a clean house or make up on my face or three blogs a week! This really struck home because I’m a blogger at The Silver Lining at I feel a responsibility for encouraging others in Christ, which I love to do, but sometimes I need some encouragement myself! God bless you, Rebecca, in Jesus’ name! πŸ’™ If you are on Facebook, I will look for you! I’m at I hope to encourage you, as you did me!

  5. I needed to read this today. I’m barely breathing at the the moment. I feel guilty about that. Like I’m a failure at everything I do. I’m looking at my untidy house that I have no motivation to clean and feel like a waste of space. But maybe I need to just let myself heal before expecting too much of myself.

  6. I cry whenever I read this, but it really helps me to get through the tough times knowing that everything will be okay. Thank you so much for this. I really needed it.

  7. As a sometimes subject of the “teen who laughs until they cry at a joke about bodily functions.” group, but also as a teen who needs to gather myself and endure the process of life some what unusually more than most of todays average teenagers. This was definitely a positivity post that would really brighten up minds of those who need to understand that this life is there’s and this life is yours. We really need to make it our own and stress less about missing out on things in life… It will happen when life decides it’s necessary. This helped me understand that a healthy state of mind is most important and maintaing a healthy state of mind is not easy so there is nothing wrong with temporarly shutting the door on a hectic life till you bulit yourself up and are capable of being your own kind of happy πŸ™‚

  8. Why should I care that someone other than me is happy when I never feel that way? Why do I need to continue putting myself through this daily suffering, just for the people around me? What benefit does it bring me to continue existing in this perpetual torture? The smile of a family member? That’s it? In these moments where I feel nothing but hatred towards myself, I need only see others being happy around me to lighten my own load?

    What a load of crap.

  9. Just chanced on this by putting “I can’t function” into Google and it gave me some hope. Things aren’t really that bad, just having an off day and I know that there are good days to come. Thanks for posting!

  10. I too googled “I can’t function”. I appreciate what you wrote. The truth is, in my life, there is no dog, no smiling toddlers, no laughing teens and no family. So I leave this site still asking… “Now what?”

  11. I am in this situation that you talk about. It’s difficult to get through the seconds of the day. And once the day ends you believe that the next day will be the same. It has to change. How to change it I don’t know. Accepting the living nightmare can’t be a prolonged answer. There must be something or someone who can help with relief – therapy, correct meds, anything. I can’t believe where I am. It’s like I’m living out a horror story and it never ends. I’m exhausted. I need hope. It feels as though God has abandoned me. That he has turned from me and I have been left to a life of hell on earth. This is not the God that I believe. This is not a God of love. I’ve been in this state for years now. This episode is elongated and my body feels like it’s failing as the Psalmist writes in Ps134.
    Thank you for your article. It’s sad that people suffer such an excruciating form of illness. It’s like you are a lost soul wandering in a shell. No grounding. God help those with mental illness.

  12. These are all old stories and comments.
    I’m hurting now; barely functioning; extremely depressed.
    My wife of 25 years has left and it’s my fault because of my own stupid insecurities. I have a psychiatrist and psychologist and I have faith and pray every day, but I can’t escape this darkness. All I can think about is dying. I want to die so bad, but all the ways to do it are not guaranteed. The only one seems to be a gun, but I don’t have one. I just want the pain to end. Is there anyone out there? God? I need help now. I can’t go on.

    1. Kirk, check your email, dear. I shared some thoughts there. Please feel free to reach out again if you need. You are very much in my prayers, beloved. And you are not alone.

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