Iam dour, morose, and see the glass half-empty and the dark clouds surrounding the silver lining.
It made me decent at my course (Industrial Engineering) because IEs are always looking for things to improve and taking note of every minute inefficiency.
I’m not the best person to have around at parties, which is okay since I start thinking of “smoke bomb” exits an hour into any social gathering.
So this confession may feel like an attention-grab to others: for the past few months, I’ve been feeling depressed. This is not to make light of depression or any mental illness; it is simply a statement that I have been going through depression-like symptoms at a time when we are all supposed to be happy “seeing boys and girls selling lanterns on the streets.”
This isn’t a science post; it’s anecdotal evidence from someone who has had close personages suffer from full-blown depression and seen the proof in the pudding. Allow me to share a few takeaways from my sojourn.
No one wakes up saying, “I want to feel sad today!” I’ve tried to narrow down the cause (circumstances, mental state, social media) and have come to find that sometimes the chemicals in our brain cause us to feel depressed even when all seems okay.
Don’t even start the “there are people worse off” argument; that’s insensitive and a cheap way to blow off someone who could legitimately be suffering.
Everyone processes things differently. One of the surprises that have come with opening up about this is the shock—and even indignation—that a well-off chinito should even deign to feel depressed and can’t “pray it away.”
The book of Job in the Bible contains chapters where Job cried out in misery, guys—don’t mess with a former Sunday schooler. I’m not like others who are serene like Jesus in their “storms,” but I’d like to meet the person who set the bar for who is and isn’t allowed to feel down—we need to talk.
On the flip side, receiving support and understanding from unexpected sources reminds me that hope comes in the strangest forms (and is always welcome).
People need to do what they can. Mental (and physical) illness is devastating, but I am reminded of recovering cancer patients doing their best to exercise despite their condition. “What you can” will vary; it may be as simple as reaching out and saying you need help. For me, it’s continuing to hustle in work and forcing myself to get out even if I would rather reread “Lies of Locke Lamora” 10 times. Never underestimate the power of “little”—didn’t Jesus praise a widow giving her last two copper coins because it was all she had?
In the light of Christmas, the greatest gift some of us can give is being there for friends who are feeling down. They may not say it, but they appreciate it from the bottom of their hearts—I know I do.