The Funky Writer is back on her pavilion with the most hashtagged topic of the week- mental health.
First things first:
People have been posting stuff like “If you wanna talk, I am here.”
No need to call them up to rant out feelings, dude. They are the same people who would never even call you back if they missed your call! As soon as this popular news would die out, once again mental health would be the same hush-hushed topic that generations have decided to sweep down their beds.
Okay, so coming back to me, I am here to talk about depression and anxiety. I wanted to write about this since last year but finally I have managed to pitch in all my thoughts into this article. I hope that this would be helpful for people who are struggling with keeping their minds healthy as well as for people who want a lucid understanding of the concepts.
THIS ARTICLE IS A SUBJECT OF MY LIMITED KNOWLEDGE AND OBSERVATIONS ON THE CONCEPT. THIS NO WAY REPRESENTS ANY STAUNCH MEDICAL ADVICE OR RESEARCH. PLEASE CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL IF YOU HAVE ANY SORT OF MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES.
We all seem to be sad sometimes, maybe we are in grief too, what is the big deal? We are humans, and as emotional creatures, it is okay to hit the low. How do we distinguish depression from sadness and grief?
Sadness is a natural emotion, just like happiness or anger. You express sadness when, say, your dad didn’t fulfil his promise of getting you a Hotwheels or you had a fight with your sibling. But it is temporary, and it goes away soon.
Grief is an aggravated version of sadness. It can go on for a prolonged period of time, when you are dealing with a stressful situation, like, the death of a loved one, or you being denied admission to your dream university.
Depression is a state of prolonged sadness, that starts off with a reason and then slowly the reason evaporates but you still have that void in your head. If you remain continuously sad for more than 2 weeks, you are depressed.
One of the major differences between grief and depression is that grief doesn’t make you feel bad about yourself, while depression does. Some of the behavioural changes include:
- Incessant crying for no reason
- Excessive eating or flunking meals
- Sudden emotional outbursts, like anger or sadness
- Extreme emotions, like excitement or feeling down
- Anxiety and nervousness
- Stress and frustration
- Confusion, taking time to make the simplest of choices (say choosing a food item or a dress)
- Staying aloof, or getting attached too often (to people)
- Difficulty falling asleep or feeling sleepy/lethargic the entire day
- Negative minded even in the most positive situations
- Self-harming (like hitting head/hands against the wall)
- Phantom pain (bodyache, etc.)
- Suicidal attempts
- Succumbing to intoxicating pleasures like drinking/smoking
- Discontinuation of hobbies
Depression is curable, though it can come back into your life again and again if not treated properly. It is not a stand-alone condition. I have created this cycle for a better understanding:
Long periods of depression can cause a reduction in performance due to a lack of concentration, leading to low self-esteem. This can be further aggravated by frequent comparison of self-performance with others. Anxiety and nervousness can set in when you are under confident or are anticipating negativity in any activity that you undertake.
Anxiety is our body’s response to stress. It is normal to panic during situations like interviews or elocutions. However, if you are constantly dwelling under fear of anything and everything under the sun, then you are getting anxiety attacks. Some of the symptoms include:
- Increased heart beat (a thumping sensation in the chest)
- Dry mouth
- Cold sweat
- Tremors (limbs start shaking)
- Negative thinking
When we are performance centric and face dead ends, we seem to be more anxious than depressed. The fear of failure or log kya kahenge can push us into depression. Feelings of loneliness and unworthiness can further worsen the situation. When we start seeing ourselves through the eyes of others, we constantly fail to achieve happiness or success.
But why are we depressed?
The following reasons might hand out a clue or two:
- The loss of a loved one (physical or emotional)
- You have suffered violence/betrayal that might be sexual or non-sexual in nature (physical or mental)
- Work/academic/family stress
- Prolonged illness, like organ failure or diabetes
- Living someone else’s life
- Dissatisfaction with current lifestyle
What to do if you are anxious/depressed?
The first step to ease out your pain is to accept that depression and anxiety are for real and will not pass away like a midnight summer dream. Only then you would be able to work on eradicating the sadness from your life.
Some of the following activities are worth a try:
Eat, sleep and repeat!
One of the best ways to de-stress is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A good diet and a good night’s sleep of 7-8 hours can leave you refreshed and relaxed.
The best perk of staying at home is maa ke haath ka khana. Eat good food, eat a lot of it if you want to, exercise a bit, and turn off the lights by 11 p.m. Stay close to your family. You can see the change in yourself!
Keep a journal.
If you feel that you have no one to speak to, then voice out your concerns on paper. Sometimes, even after talking to people, your chest might feel heavy. Then in that case just write down your feelings. You’d feel better. Making this a regular habit can go a long way in making you emotionally stronger.
Restart your hobby.
One of the biggest hints that you’re depressed is your lost interest in hobbies. It can be, indeed, very difficult to do something that is not much required in your daily life for survival, like cooking, studying or going to office. However, hobbies can give your life a new perspective to work on.
I had a hard time writing this article, since I had lost touch of my keyboard. My hands could only type out assignments. I just used to listen to music, but now I shake a leg and put in my tune while my song is on.
Say goodbye to negativity.
Many personal incidents have brought me to the conclusion of staying away from toxic people who are forever jealous of you or are angry at you and hence keep on hurling sharp, hurtful statements at you. Many times it has happened that people have reached out to me for favours only; they are not concerned about my time or wellbeing.
Stay away from such people. Learn to say NO. They might be your ex colleagues or old schoolmates. At first, it might seem as if they are trying to stay connected to you, but in reality, all they want are favours and once they’re done with you, they’re done with you. And what are you left with? An empty heart, and possibly you might denounce mankind.
Sharing is NOT Caring
When you keep talking about your troubles to everyone, firstly, they would not like to hang around with you and secondly, they might use these statements against you: to put you in a bad light or simply, make you the talk of the town. A personal advice is to talk less and listen more. Talk to selective people only, like your closest friends and family members, who love you and do not judge you unconditionally.
Binge watch shows.
I was never a fan of Amazon Prime or Netflix. But sometimes, when your mind is full of negative thoughts regarding yourself and your surroundings, it is good to take a diversion and feed something else into your brain. This way, you look forward to events unrelated to your life and might find solace in stories. Thanks to the lockdown, I got a chance to watch some of the specific series and movies that I had wanted to watch since years. Have a look into my lockdown list:
You can also read your favourite books if you are a bibliophile instead of a movie person. Sharing a list of the PDFs that I have:
You know it’s time to go to the doctor when you are not able to handle your feelings with home remedies and counselling by family and friends. Consider going to a professional counsellor first before visiting a psychiatrist. Bells start ringing when you are not able to focus on your day to day life without having a good cry or imagining about how worthless you are. Warning bells: when you tend to get suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide or self-harm yourself in the anticipation of ending your life to get rid of the suffering.
Counsellors are active listeners, and can mostly pinpoint the source of sadness. They would help you to focus on the positive aspects of life, by telling you to conduct simple exercises like making a list of positive things in life and putting it as a mobile wallpaper. They also might tell you to take tests to determine behavioural patterns. Counselling is like a placebo effect; when someone shows interest/confidence in you, you tend to bloom up and feel better, as depression makes you an easy prey to judgements by the public.
A counsellor might refer you to a psychiatrist when plain good thoughts don’t work; your brain needs medical intervention.
Your psychiatrist might prescribe you anti-depressants on the basis of the severity of your condition. For example, if you have moderate depression, then your doctor might prescribe you a low dose antidepressant.
What to do if your loved one is depressed?
Talk to them. Listen to them. Kindly do not give them any advice in the beginning. Let them work on themselves. If they fall down, you pull them up, but don’t keep on pushing them unnecessarily. They know what is right and what is wrong, they just need time to figure it out.
Spend time with them. Eat their favourite foods, go out and take a walk in the lap of nature. Fresh air always helps.
Slowly, show them the positive side of life. This might take days, and frequent counselling might be required. However, if you feel that you need expert guidance, then it is a good practice to go to a professional.
I hope that my article helps. Remember, mental health is as important as physical health, and you need healing and peace to progress in life. Do whatever it takes to be happy. Just don’t get hurt and don’t hurt others. You never know when someone’s suffering starts!
Stay safe, and take care.