So I figured out quite late in the day that October 10th is World Mental Health Day. Thought I should make a post related to mental health as it had been on my mind for a long time. I will touch upon depression and loneliness, the symptoms and attempt to give some sort of motivation to all those going through a tough phase in life. I am not speaking in detail about depression, it is a serious issue and someone like me is actually unfit to give advice on how to overcome it. But I attempt to write something small that a lot of you can relate to.
Most of us when depressed keep it surreptitious and hide behind a mask. Depression could be a lot of things, mostly lack of motivation and the feeling of constant gloom, questioning one's own existence and what not? I don't need to describe it. This mental illness is mostly disregarded and there are people who don't acknowledge it and many even term this sickness as laziness. Depression sometimes becomes impossible to treat. It's like the illness attacks the part of your body that was supposed to deal with it. Think about it. You want to recover and climb out, but you can't because the part that helps you recover and climb is not immune anymore. Hence you find yourself in a loop of constant sadness.
Many people don't talk about depression to their family or friends because they are unsure what the problem is. You might be depressed and not even know it. You'll be going through panic attacks, anxiety and just pretend that it's a phase and console yourself by saying that everything is fine. This is the first mistake. The second mistake is when you realise that your mental state is affecting your family, friends, work and wrecking havoc everywhere, but you still refuse to get help.
What does it feel like to be depressed really? Could it be an ongoing thing that ranges over several years or something that occurs for a shorter duration? Take a ride with me. It's important to note that different individuals experience depression differently and the whole thing can never be defined or confined to particular sentences. Like I said earlier, first thing you lose is motivation and then comes loneliness. You don't find anything interesting at all. No energy to get out of bed, to shower, to eat, or head out of the house and you can't even do menial jobs. Does it stop there? You can't even think. You can't even make conversation in a normal sense anymore. Fumbling to form sentences and forgetting words. Altogether you feel drained, feel very stupid, useless and the worst part is you cannot change this even if you try to. Keeps getting worse with every turn. And this is what it feels like to fall into the dark pit of despair. But you put on your game face and deal with it. You still act like a functioning member of the society while you're dead on the inside. You pretend. You keep saying everything's fine. Introverts play this game on hard mode.
Now when all of this is happening to you, a part of you really tries. Tries really hard to bounce back and set things in life right. Call it survival instincts. You might just want to be left alone and sleep all day. But when you're awake you might also think of how it would be nice if someone understood what you're going through, just relate to you and acknowledge your problem. So you try to make that happen. Also you could genuinely use some positive vibes. You might think there's nowhere to go except back to the darkness in your mind but you're seriously longing for someone to bring light into that darkness. So when you're lonely and have no one to talk to, you try and make friends or even look for something more than a friend. You don't want to feel lonely. And when you find someone you can relate to, you have trouble maintaining that relationship because you're screwing it up slowly. Your desperation shows, you're trying too hard, talking too much. And you fuck it up as usual. Sometimes simply because you have no experience. There, you frightened them. They leave and you're back to square one. Now you're even more depressed because you couldn't even accomplish the task of making a friend.
Now as you grow old, you kind of give up and tell yourself that you're fine with loneliness. I mean who needs company? You're so used to being lonely now, you convince your brain that's exactly what you want. Good old solitude and some peace. You have books, your loving pet, your own place, internet and Netflix. What more do you need? You cherish what you have and also cry yourself to bed. Because you're afraid to admit that something is wrong. You've been conditioned to live in misery and you now think it is ok to live like that.
Kindly note that you can be depressed even when your life is going great. You will still feel unexplainable sadness and never be able to pinpoint where it's coming from. This frustration leads to unnecessary thoughts. It affects your self esteem and from there breaks your character. You give birth to self loathing. You hate yourself and never miss a chance to blame your existence. Depression is one evil villain.
How do you overcome this? You get help. It's simple. Medication actually works and there are thousands of people who feel better. If you feel you're going through serious depression and anxiety problem, it is very important that you seek professional medical help. If you're keen to change things, then take baby steps. Make one small change. You can never overhaul your life in one night. Concentrate on one small change. Build up small things and you'll see transformation. It could be simple things. Floss daily. Wake up at a fixed time everyday. Groom yourself. Take a walk. Read atleast a page from a book. Give up one junk food. Write one sentence. Do one pushup. Just keep at it. Change will bring opportunity!
Secondly, forgive yourself. Stop with the self loathing. You know what? unless you learn to love yourself you'll never really love anyone nor will someone love you back. So if you really want to make it happen, start loving yourself today. Not in a narcissist way but in a positive manner. Stop being too hard on yourself. Cut yourself some slack. You might be smart, intelligent, educated and talented but also feel you haven't gotten anywhere in life. Stop being so disappointed. Remember the part about making one small change? Apply that here. That way you know you're on the right path. Yesterday you worried. Today you made one small change. How is that not improvement? Just be persistent.
Run. Grab those shoes and run. Exercise helps big time. Start doing things that makes your body feel better physically. You will have more energy. Your feel good hormones will be fixing all your sadness. Get those endorphins out and clear the fog in your brain. You are doing a huge favour to future you by exercising. A healthy body is a healthy mind. Cut down on soda. Drink plenty of water. Eat good food. Food that tastes awesome and is also nutritious. Look forward to breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eat and relish.
Travel, explore the world, need not be the whole globe, start from your home country. Meet new people. And while doing this enjoy your own company. You think you will end up lonely and really it's all in your head. But you have to try first rather than assuming. There's so much out there to see. Broaden your horizons.
Slowly and steadily. These things will diminish your insecurities. All you have to do is believe and keep going. Stop trying to impress others and impress yourself. And see what sort of change that brings. Do what you can, even if it's the tiniest of efforts. Do it and move on. Don't brood over the past. Go after what has to be done and look forward to the future. And if you're feeling low, listen to 'Wear Sunscreen'!
(written in 1997 by Mary Schmich, a columnist with the Chicago Tribune)
Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of '99 Wear Sunscreen If I could offer you only one tip for the future, Sunscreen would be it The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience... I will dispense this advice now...
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded But trust me, in 20 years you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked...
You are not as fat as you imagine Don't worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind
the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday
Do one thing everyday that scares you
Sing Don't be reckless with other people's hearts
don't put up with people who are reckless with yours
Floss Don't waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind...
the race is long, and in the end, it's only with yourself Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults
if you succeed in doing this, tell me how
Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements
Stretch Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life... the most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don't
Get plenty of calcium Be kind to your knees, you'll miss them when they're gone Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary... what ever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either your choices are half chance, so are everybody else's
Enjoy your body
use it every way you can...
don't be afraid of it, or what other people think of it
it's the greatest instrument you'll ever own
Dance...even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room Read the directions, even if you don't follow them Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly
Get to know your parents, you never know when they'll be gone for good Be nice to your siblings they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future
Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle
because the older you get the more you need the people you knew when you were young Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft Travel Accept certain inalienable truths prices will rise politicians will philander you too will get old, and when you do you'll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable politicians were noble and children respected their elders Respect your elders Don't expect anyone else to support you Maybe you have a trust fund maybe you have a wealthy spouse but you never know when either one might run out Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40, it will look 85 Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it Advice is a form of nostalgia dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth But trust me on the sunscreen