Some of the first movies I remember watching as a child were Lord of the Flies, The Power of One, Sarafina… and my least favorite of all, Roots. Add to that the Women of Brewster place and The Color Purple, and you might think you have an idea about the direction I’m going with this, but I assure you, you’re probably way off. I’ve been programmed, and for the most part, the programming has worked. I believe in fighting for the greater good and doing for others for the sole purpose of doing the right thing. Unfortunately, my programming has come at a great price; all I can ever see are battles that need fighting, suffering, pain, strife, and all the unpleasantness that this world has to offer. My programming set the framework for depression. In spite of my beliefs and unimaginable capacity for caring, hope, and faith that things can get better, I just don’t actually see it. For me, the world is a sad, scary, painful place to be. In short: I have an uncharacteristically negative outlook for someone who believes so much in the greater good.
Wanna know something you probably won’t believe? When I lived alone, I only watched the evening news on Mondays so I could see the 5-day forecast. Otherwise, it was either entertainment or studying… whichever project would fill my time, build my skills, and lift my spirits. The thought was: There’s only ever bad news.
The day I started writing this–November 21st, 2014–I snapped at my mother. I knew I hurt her, but I just couldn’t let her say anything else. I was just so far from being in a frame of mind where I could parse or compartmentalize information. See, she was about to tell me about yet another serial killer; one more piece of bad news to take root in my mind and add to the already fertile breeding ground for more sadness. I was beyond tired of it, and I really couldn’t take much more. My depression had me in a choke hold. It was as if my mental garden had been overrun with negativity plants choking out the positive ones. All of the nutrients and fuel that could have been used to fertilize whichever remaining positive fruit-bearing plants was going to the negative ones. I’m stuck in a battle with myself; between my true nature, and the nature of my mind.
The worst part of this is that I’m not the only one who has these kinds of thoughts and feelings. While some people might think “at least you aren’t alone.” I wish I was. I wish I was the only one on the planet feeling this way because it would at least mean that other people were happy… or at least not the kind of unhappy that I am. It would mean that there would be one less battle that needed fighting, one fewer group of people that needed defending… one less thing for me to watch other people suffer through. I think that last part is the had part for everyone to deal with.
In the last year and change, I’ve acknowledged my depression publicly and taken steps toward mental health. This process has required discussions with people who have been supportive and understanding, and many more who in fairness might have thought they were being helpful, but in fact were really not. They did the silver lining thing…
The Power of Empathy! Everyone should watch this and take note 🙂 It’s not so much about sympathizing with people and making them feel better with things or with stories to please their ego. It’s about getting to the core of things with people. Connecting with them, feeling what they are feeling, relating to them and bringing no judgement into the situation at all. Next time you are the ear that listens, provide words that don’t fulfill an ego/mind story and see how much of a difference it makes for the other person. 🙂
Posted by Collective Evolution on Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Something I found to be particularly difficult on my worst days: I couldn’t think of my having survived another day as a good thing. So when she said “Everyone doesn’t have it easy… At least you aren’t homeless or sick” I couldn’t help but wish for sickness to suddenly take over my body and take me off this plane, hopefully in such a way that my family could profit from my demise. In the middle of a conversation I was fantasizing about my own death. The possibility of dying gave me hope. I highly doubt this was anyone who was there for that conversation’s intent, but it became the reason I wouldn’t give up… because giving up would mean not being put in any situations to get a gainful kind of sick or have any unfortunate accidents that would allow my death to accomplish what I couldn’t in life. Because: silver lining.
So what’s this really all about? Its about understanding that depression is a lot of things with a lot of causes and can’t necessarily be solved with a positive thought and a hug. If you’re in a position to help someone who is depressed, the best thing you can do is listen and acknowledge their struggle. Especially if you have experience with depression in your own life, your success story might help, but it might also not. Your frustration with not being able to “fix” your friend pales in comparison to how the depression is making them feel. If a depressed person trusts you with their struggle, their feelings, their anxiety, their fears, their willingness to end it all, then you have been trusted with that person’s life and how you treat them and everything they have trusted you with is a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You’ve been given a great power, and thus a great responsibility. If you aren’t up to the task, then be honest: say that you don’t know what to say, that you wish there was something you could do to help…. say nothing at all and just be there. You never really know how deep in the darkness a person is, or what that person would be willing to do to solve the problem for themselves. Acknowledge and validate their feelings. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you, the feelings are real to them. They don’t need another voice echoing the insecurities already ricocheting off the walls of their mind. I know I’ve never forgotten the hurtful things that were said to me, and I’ve struggled to let go of the hurtful things I imagined. Depression makes reality hard to deal with.
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Do More. Require Better.