AM I DEPRESSED OR JUST SAD?
Well isn’t it virtually the same thing?? The truth is that even though they are not synonymous terms, our experience and the way it effects the way we feel, think and act are truly the most important thing.
Depression is a clinical term that is used mostly to help other clinicians communicate symptomology that a client may exhibit. Whether its Major Depression Disorder or Persistent Depressive Disorder (and its myriad of specifiers that are used to further categorize the human experience) the truth is that you can call it whatever you want. Our experiences are each unique and unless you are a clinician knowing the specifics, it doesn’t always matter.
It is helpful to think about sadness as a normal and universally experienced emotion. In fact, it is one of the core emotions that can be identified across all cultures and ages throughout the world by simply looking at non-verbal cues.
Sadness, depression, gloominess, sorrow, the blues- we have all experienced it at different levels- and often our first reaction is one of escape.
How can I turn this sadness or depression into joy? And how can I do it as quickly as possible? Well, I will share some tips on how to begin to lessen the blow. However, I do want to clarify that if you have persistently felt depressed (when endless Googling of your symptoms is no help, and no Pinterest board has been able to aid in any way) speaking to a mental health clinician or your doctor about it might be your next course of action. If these are not available to you, churches, community centers, and confiding in a friend of family can help you begin your journey to heal.
1. Don’t make it Personal: Humans across the world (and even some animals) can identify sadness- so as unique as the experience may be know that there is nothing wrong with this feeling. Accept it- say it out loud- I AM SAD! And when someone asks how you are feeling do not say “good”- if admitting you are feeling sad is a bit of a stretch try at least communicating that you are not 100%. Sometimes just accepting how we feel can have a tremendous shift in the way we are treating ourselves.
2. Make it real: A big part of feeling sad or depressed is our ruminating thoughts. It’s like we have the same sad movie on repeat- but the cruel critic’s commentary special edition. So, write it down, draw it, take some playdoh or real dough, name it and make it real for yourself. This helps us shift our focus from our thoughts and externalize our experience. After, burn it, flush it, burry it, or freeze it. Repeat as much as you need.
3. Be your own best friend: This is when meditation can be immensely helpful. We can hear how harsh we can be to ourselves. So, say it- and then think would I say this to my best friend? No, probably not- so switch the roles and begin to change that internal dialogue. And, if you’re anything like me my internal dialogue is basically me having a full-on conversation with myself or my dogs. This is helpful for me- I can hear how ridiculous I am being- and also, I can use my dogs as a way to say really nice things about myself. So, try it- it’s a process, but eventually over time you will begin to notice that having a little bit more acceptance and compassion for yourself makes everything a little more zen.
By: Nicole Y. Herrarte