For those who live in areas where there is a definite decrease in daylight hours once a year there my also be an increase in signs and symptoms of depression. Now, I’m not professionally educated in this subject nor will I profess to have answers. All I’m doing with this post is sharing personal experiences that I hope will offer a direction or insight to others and in turn offer them hope and support.
I was raised with the belief that depression was something that weak people had. All they needed to do was to stop being lazy and selfish, and to quit wollering in self-pity. We didn’t have any family members who had depression, we were better than that.
As I embraced adulthood, and embarked on the trails attached to that endeavor, I have learned a lot about the many different levels or layers of depression. Instead of using space to briefly describe depression I’m including two links: Depression and Clinical Depression.
I have come to understand, and except, that I have always been sensitive. My feelings are easily hurt whether by others or by what I’ve done. I spent years hiding behind the persona of a hard, independent focused person, when in reality I was simply structurally building walls that could easily be defended. Thankfully I have grown past that phase in life and have learned to embrace and even treasure the myriad of feelings that at times battle for a front row seat in my heart. I feel more now and therefore I can love more, even though that means I hurt more. Nothing is free in life but I find these trade offs to be very well worth my effort.
With my personal growth I have also acquired the desire to see others in a more sensitive and forgiving light. Instead of seeing the mean spirited say hurtful things bully I see a sensitive person who doesn’t know there is an alternative way to be. I now smile kindly at the person in line at the checkout who is being a complete ass – their day may have been horrible in ways I don’t even want to imagine, I’m not going to add fuel to that fire. Instead, I show them that not everyone is mean and uncaring.
For years I had dreaded family gatherings, sometimes even to the point of tears before even leaving my house. I have now learned to accept and even love the fact I am not responsible for anyone else, or what they say or do. I am only responsible for how I view the situation and my reaction to it. I sat down next to a relative who very quickly moved the chair she was sitting in a few inches away from me. Hurtful? Yes. My reaction – I ignored it. That was a start for me. Now, when I go to these gatherings I go right up to that person and genuinely hug her. Looking at photos of those gatherings I notice one person who seems to always lean away from me when we’re photographed together. I make sure she gets a genuine hug too. I’m no longer allowing their negativity to have an effect on me. I have not yet reached the point where I look forward to these gatherings, but I’m no longer making up excuses to occasionally not go or dreading them. I don’t blame anyone other than myself for feeling that way I do about these gatherings. For all I know I have annoyed or offended those people on a regular basis for years and they are simply acting in a way that they find necessary. What I DO know is that I’m responsible for me and my actions and words. I choose to do my best to be a positive energy in these gatherings and to be pleasant.
Now, that last sentence brings me to my closing thoughts. You can’t ‘look’ at someone and be able to tell if they battle with any of the signs and symptoms of depression. Some people deal with those issues daily while others deal with them seasonally, and so on. Sometimes it’s kind of like predicting the weather, you’re only right on about 3 hours in advance and that too can change. It’s not a sign of weakness to have depression, or have to deal with it, nor is it a sin. We all may have little bouts with depression from time to time and not even know it. It’s what you do at those times that either help you or make situations worse.
Think before you criticize, or share your ‘helpful’ suggestions. Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all. Silent love can be healing, and a hand up for that person.