You’ve heard this term since childhood from your father when he talks to his patients about it on the phone. Hence, I wouldn’t be surprised if you probably always thought of it in a clinical context. But well, I’m sure by now you’re aware of how common depression is.
These days we tend to judge ourselves too harshly. A little stumble here and there sees us down in the doldrums in no time. I say this based on the kind of stress I see you youngsters taking up these days. While a little amount of stress keeps you on your toes, it is alarming when it gets deeper and starts affecting your overall demeanour. What hits me are the kind of reasons that trigger depression these days. Peer pressure, competition, attraction to the opposite gender, their performance in studies/work, meeting the expectations of close ones are some of the issues that are a part and parcel of experiences one encounters in their youth. But how we deal with these issues is what is significant. Back in our days we had somewhat the same problems but we seemed to have more patience to deal with these issues. I feel our level of reactions were not as intense as seen in the youth these days. I guess we also had less pressure on us back then.
Excelling in studies, getting admission in the right university and carving a successful career is just one part of life. Important, yes for earning your future bread and butter, but achieving high grades is not the only way to do it. It breaks my heart to see young students taking their lives just because they failed in one particular exam. There are so many ways to address an issue. If only they would have come out in the open and discussed it with someone who could guide them better. Giving in to suicide over a few marks is a downright waste of precious life. If ever comes a time when you feel that you’ve not lived up to your own expectations, call me right away. I will help you see more than hundred attributes that you possess and for which you are genuinely appreciated by people around you.
When I listen amusedly to the dating stories of youngsters these days, I’m astounded as to how having a girlfriend or boyfriend amounts to being cool. And not having one is equalled to being something wrong with you. I mean, whoever it is who decides that cool quotient is not on the right track. I remember, a couple of years back when you were still a child, you once came to me and told me how, so and so is ‘seeing’ so and so in your class. Out of curiosity I had asked where they ‘saw each other.’ And you had replied, ‘In the school, during the recess.’ I had smiled at the innocence of it all. It was a blessing to be in that phase to simply see things as they were and not delve deeper in the complex dynamics of relationships. But well, once you grow up, you discover yourself, ‘seeing each other’ takes a different connotation altogether. However, let me share with you a gem of advice. Despite how good it feels to have a friend/girlfriend, there is life beyond that one person. For your own good let your world not revolve just around that one person no matter how special they are. There are so many interesting people, things, places and experiences to explore besides this one person. If someone ever lets you down, remember that life does not stop at that. Make an effort to dive deep into some other activity that stimulates you mentally and you’re sorted. These are passing phases. In all probability, a few years down the lane you would be sharing your experience with your kids and laughing about it.
You may wonder where depression figures out in all this. Actually it does. While it has nothing specific to do with you, it sure has something to do with your generation of people. The causes for depression in your age group is predominantly for these reasons. I am confident on your maturity at dealing with these issues if they ever crop up, however, my protective maternal instincts urge me to bring it up with you and make you aware of it.
All said and done, god forbid, if ever comes a time when you feel depressed these few things listed below can help you come out of it.
- Avoid interacting with the person or exposing yourself to the situation that is the root cause for your depression. If that seems difficult try distancing and detaching yourself mentally from that situation. It takes a bit of practice but is not impossible to do.
- Talk about it with someone close. If you can’t think of anyone better, I’m just a phone call away. I promise I won’t judge you for it.
- Write about it. Read what you’ve written after a day and try to understand your mind better. The easiest way to do it is to save it as a note on your phone. If you’re not up to writing about it, write down anything that comes to your mind. It could be a free write. Who knows you might surprise yourself with what you come up with.
- Listen to peppy numbers on your music list. If possible turn up the volume and dance like no one’s watching.
- Go out and get some sunshine. Soaking in some vitamin D is vital. Dark dingy places are gloomy. Now you know why I insist on drawing open the curtains to the windows in your room, first thing in the morning. If you don’t feel like stepping out, simply find a window, balcony or terrace with a good view and feast your eyes on the natural beauty around. It could just be a patch of sky or a green shrub that soothes your eyes.
- Indulge yourself with your favorite food. Try the new restaurant down the street or better still rustle up that extra tangy pasta with gooey melted cheese that you’re so good at making and call your buddies to share it with.
- Give yourself a makeover. Go for that bold new haircut that you have been considering for a while or buy some new clothes to jazz up your wardrobe.
- Take a weekend trip with happy people. By happy people I mean those who make you laugh heartily and look at the brighter things in life.
- Binge watch F.R.I.E.N.D.S. or any other show that cracks you up.
- Write down a list of affirmations. Affirmations are short, powerful statements. When you say them or think them or even hear them, they become the thoughts that create your reality. Go through them every single day and genuinely believe that the things that you wish for are already yours.
As I come to the end of this letter, there is one more thing I wish to stress on. No matter how depressed or stressed you are never ever turn to any kind of toxic habit to get momentary relief. I have 100% faith in you when it comes to this, knowing your aversion for all things addictive. But when you’re in a new place, exposed to a new culture, among new people, the temptations will be huge. Use your fair judgement to stay away from things that could turn into long term weaknesses.
Instead, look for getting that high by doing something good for someone. I once read about someone who would write an inspirational quote on a piece of paper and leave a few of such anonymous notes around randomly in public places for strangers to pick up and read, say on a bench in a park, in a train or in a book in the library or anywhere where it could be found by someone. Isn’t that a swell idea to make someone’s day? There are thousands of other small yet meaningful ways that you can derive joy by spreading it generously. So go ahead, make people around you smile and keep smiling – always. And when you’ve done that to your heart’s content, soak yourself in a hot bath to release all the stress of yesterday in anticipation for an invigorating tomorrow.
‘Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cures for depression.’
― Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle