People with anxiety are all too familiar with this phenomenon. So, what can you do about it?

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the idea of doing something that’s seemingly very simple to do? Has a task ever weighed down on you day after day, remaining at the forefront of your mind, but you still can’t bring yourself to complete it?

For many people with anxiety the answers to these questions have been yes.

Sure, going on meds and learning coping techniques can be a huge help.  But this issue can continue to arise for no apparent reason in which seemingly small tasks felt downright impossible at times.

It has a name, it’s called: the impossible task.

What is the ‘impossible task’?

Coined by M. Molly Backes on Twitter in 2018, the term describes how it feels when a task seems impossible to do, no matter how easy it should theoretically be. Then, as time passes and the task remains unfinished, the pressure builds while the inability to do it often remains.

Necessary tasks become overwhelming, and guilt and shame about the incomplete task only make the task feel larger and more difficult. So, why do some people experience the impossible task while others may be baffled by its existence?  It’s related to a lack of motivation, which is both a symptom and a side effect of some antidepressants.

You might also find something similar, though for different reasons, in people with traumatic brain injuries, traumatic stress disorders (including PTSD), and dissociative disorders, which involve a disturbance of memory and identity. Mainly, though, it’s how people with depression describe the difficulty that they have doing very simple tasks.