Depression doesn't always look like a sad silhouette staring out a rain covered window. Often it looks like...well, us. As if the person is fine. Did you know that? For many suffering from depression, covering up the anguish is a daily routine. Making it so others don't have to worry. Making it so we can function appropriately when we have to. Making us feel as if there is some hope to faking it until we make it feel better and not empty or heavy. Depression does not always look like sadness. Sometimes, depression looks like a smile.
"I get nervous what the future will hold. I can't trust the dark. But then the waves that touch my feet are much gentler than I thought they'd be."
Sharing stories over coffee, sharing hopes during walks, sharking secrets in whispers...when we disclose something personal, we wait for our conversation companion to say "me, too!" Be it a nod, a smile, or a verbal affirmation, these things signal that what we just shared resonates with someone else. It normalizes our experience, taking us from our lonely island to the party on the cruise ship. How important is normalizing? Think way back to your elementary and high school days. Do you remember wanting to belong to a group? To have friends who shared your interests, who wanted to spend time with you? Part of normalizing is finding a common thread and gaining a sense of belonging. To know we are not alone in what we experience, how validating! What a confidence booster! The initial "me, too" starts a cycle we are positively rewarded to repeat -- fear of being "the only one," sharing something personal, normalization, and then confidence. We begin to CRAVE the normalization and confidence, and why wouldn't we?! So, share your story with someone and feel the power of "me, too."
I feel crippled with anxiety...
For those who have experienced the startling effects of anxiety, you know too well how consuming and terrifying it truly is. Those minutes, hours, or days stuck in an endless loop of spinning thoughts and outrageous physical symptoms wears you down. Many people know the classic symptoms: shallow breathing, tight chest, fearful and darting eyes, rapid heartbeat, an inability to focus or sleep or eat...but to truly feel anxiety and spend minutes, hours, days in that loop is unbearable. Those who are on the outside may want to try to be of comfort, but may be at a loss of how to make any sort of impact. Lindsay Holmes details a few tips in her article "5 Of The Most Helpful Things You Can Say To Someone With Anxiety." Take a look and see if they may be of use to you or someone you know. Anxiety is no small matter...be there for someone in a big way.
Do you know how much you complain? Would you say you whine a little? Only over the major things? Would you say you complain a lot? Do you know what "a lot" might be? The Complaint Restraint Project seeks to empower people to stop focusing on the negative and stop complaining. We often think that we find commonalities with friends and potential friends through positive common experiences, but some authors and researchers are finding that the opposite is true: many people bond over shared dislikes. Can you believe that?? To spend the precious moments of your day talking badly about something or someone in a subconscious effort to unite with a person. Sounds a little backwards.
A healthier, happier you.