What Do You Do When You Feel Down?
Thoughts on dealing with low-spiritedness, mood swings, and depression
I believe a personal experience would do the most justice as I share my thoughts.
I have been unhappy for a very long time, and I do not know why. Maybe I do know why but I cannot find the right words to explain how I feel. Sometimes I feel very happy, but more often than not, I feel so heavy-laden, like the weight of the world rests on my shoulders. To everyone else, I am probably having the time of my life. It appears all is well, and I have almost no problems; things are fine. This could not be further from the truth.
I feel so much despair, but I cannot tell anyone. I cannot even bring myself to share my feelings with anyone; no one would understand me. How do I explain that I sometimes feel despondent for seemingly no reason? How do I explain that my fears often overwhelm me to the point where I experience panic attacks?
I have considered ending it all, calling it quits because I am just tired. I want to rest. I don’t want to worry about the problems or issues I have been bearing by myself. If I succeed, I would be one less problem to the world, and I know no one would miss me.
I have decided to go along with it. Things will never change so why should I continue to suffer? I have thought about all the possible ways I can go, whether I would go immediately or suffer for a while. I am hoping there would be little or no pain involved but even if there is, that would be the end of it all.
I have finally done it. No more pain, no more suffering. I will no longer be a burden to myself or anyone else. I am not taking these problems with me. I can now finally rest.
I watched a short video online by a man whose friend succumbed to suicide. He was distraught and heartbroken, his friend had been going through stuff, and he didn’t know. Why hadn’t he confided in him? He probably wondered how much of a friend he had been to his friend for him not to have considered sharing his issues with him. He probably also wondered what signs his friend had been giving off that he had missed; how could he have not seen that he was struggling with things? He stopped short of blaming himself for his friend’s death. This personal experience could have been his friend’s experience, who knows?
Many people are going through a lot of stuff these days. As things get worse with increases in the price of essential food items and utilities, the challenges increase. Some people cannot even remember spending on their wants because their needs have barely been met. Predictably, many of those who face the brunt of worsening times are those who provide for their family and other dependants; the breadwinners whether they be men or women.
Once upon a time, it would have been easier to turn to a friend or a neighbour to get some help, financial or otherwise, to tide one through the tough times. Nowadays, it is much harder as many more people are going through the same or worse issues. We know but we cannot ask. We all just grin and put our best feet forward, hoping that things would get better while we manage our issues. We wonder how we can seek help from or reach out to someone who could also be experiencing tough times. Would that not be inconsiderate? Would they also not have their tales of woe to share?
It also isn’t just the people who are facing tough times that feel despondent. There are many other people, for various reasons, who experience feelings of deep sadness. Surprisingly, some of these people would be considered very successful, and many would wonder what exactly their issues are. We hear tales of super successful people who take their lives, and we wonder: “but they had it all!”
I often wonder why some people feel saddest at the point many would consider the happiest point of their lives. I once saw videos from an Instagram trend where people were asked to show a moment they were at their lowest. Ironically, in many of those videos, people are supposedly living their best lives. They are blowing out candles on their birthday cakes, dancing at their wedding receptions, welcoming new kids into the world, and receiving awards at work: joyful on the outside, unhappy on the inside.
A lot of people wonder why others don’t share their issues. As far as they are concerned: “if you need a shoulder to cry on, I will be there”, “talk to me if you need someone to confide in” but in reality, how easy is it for people to share? There is the stigma of being looked down on, and there is also the penchant for some people to downplay other people’s issues by comparing them with their issues. “My brother, we all have problems, it is not just you. If I tell you what I am going through now, you will cry for me”. Shared suffering is our response to other people’s silent cry for help because we probably think that downplaying another person’s problem could help them feel better about it.
If you are experiencing a tough time, as cliched as it sounds, you are not alone. Some people can support you, either within your immediate circle or professionally, especially if you are particular about your privacy. I know many people are hesitant to share their problems with others because that information could end up being used against them so speaking with a professional could help maintain privacy. Talking to people does help. On the one hand, verbalising helps release pent-up energy; you may not even need advice, just a listening ear. On the other hand, you could see your problems from another perspective and gain insights to encourage you to keep on.
If you don’t feel like talking to anyone, you could write down how you honestly feel and read your words to yourself. You may realise that what you believe is insurmountable may not be so. It also helps to remember the good times, recall what worked, and how you dealt with your challenges. Focus on your past achievements, not your failures or current issues.
Doing something new may also be a good way of lifting your spirit, and that process of experiencing newness could encourage you to look forward to better days. Exercise also does wonders in getting your blood flowing and lifting a low mood.
Above all, I believe maintaining faith in God is extremely helpful in realising that there is always hope no matter how bad things are. Our tests, trials, and tough times could also be opportunities to prepare us for greater responsibilities in the future. The battles we fight and win today equip us with the skills we need to fight another day; this is the way I see things today.
PS: This article does not attempt to raise issues concerning people who may be dealing with clinical depression as that requires medical intervention.