I have been wanting to write about this subject for quite some time. This may sound like a contradiction. Are you depressed or are you happy? Which one is it? That’s like talking about a speed skater with no legs. Well, maybe not.
My writings are simply me documenting the thoughts in my head. Usually I face problems in my life, I figure out how to solve them, and then I try to share my findings with those I love. The hope is others will see what I write and be able to take something from it. The best moments are when someone comes up to me and says, “Thank you for sharing that with me. I really needed to hear that!” Hopefully I will be able to touch you in such a way.
Throughout my life I have dealt with lot of loss. Even in my younger years I had gone to wakes and funerals of older family members and friends of my Parents. Probably the most profound losses were when I lost my Mother and Father in 1992 and 2006, respectively. At the time I did not believe in much of an afterlife; I simply thought that was it.
Finally in 2012 I was able to move on. I was able to let go of the pain I had been harboring, and then I was able to turn those feelings into love and happiness. I thought I had conquered the pain of loss. Early this summer I was to learn about a whole new chapter of loss in my life.
There was someone who was part of just about every major moment and decision in my life for many years. Almost overnight our contact was severed. In this situation, life on this Earth still goes on, but reconnection seems impossible. Unlike lying Mom and Dad to rest, where there was no coming back in this lifetime, this person and I could possibly reconnect. Unfortunately, the desire has not been mutual. In some aspects, this loss has been more profound; there was never a final goodbye as I was able to experience during the funerals of Mom and Dad.
My life was turned upside-down. I stopped being me. Those close to me saw a dramatic change in my demeanor. Gone was that constant bouncing-off-the-walls happy personality. It was still there, but some of that personality was replaced by something dark.
As I was recently baptized and confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was given the Gift of the Holy Ghost. That is best described as a constant companion, offering soft-spoken guidance. This inspiration is best received when doing what is right and listening for its messages. Additionally, I have been told by other members that I have the Gift of Discernment.
Within the past months, I have been able to help others in ways I never thought possible. I am able to feel the spirit or vibes people give off. When people talk to me about things that matter a lot to them, I am able to pick up on more than just the words they say. Usually I follow up by offering what most people consider advice. Instead, I simply believe I am just telling people what they already know. I simply just help them understand themselves better. Sometimes I am also inspired to share with them insight that I would not normally have.
Many people find “happiness” by scoring a bigger TV or a new car. In the big picture, people think they are finding happiness by being socially accepted. These are just imitations of true happiness. Ultimately, I have learned to find true happiness through serving others. Not only do I have a huge, loving heart, I love to use my gifts to touch the lives of others. Although I cannot control when and how these gifts will be used, I very much recognize when they are available. Because of this, I will forever be a happy person deep down inside.
Sometimes I feel these promptings and this inspiration in a very soft manner. Other times it is like someone is telling me over and over again: “Jimmy! Go and talk to this person. Say (this) or say (that) to him or her!” It is such a frustrating feeling to know the answers to someone’s challenge but to not be able to do anything about it. It is hard to just let go of things when you know there is something you can do to help.
In the end, I was no longer able to help this person who is so important to me. I had felt so helpless. I had gone through my own trials in life. I may not have the answers to everything. With a heaping dose of empathy, the willingness to listen, and a great talent of using analogies to help others with a sense of understanding, I can at least do enough to help someone feel empowered enough to begin being self-sufficient.
I had to find a way to just take care of myself. Without a consistent usage of my talents, I felt like I was keeping all of this to myself. This made me feel selfish. With that came guilt and eventually a little shame. To learn more, please check out Brené Brown’s talks on vulnerability and shame. I had became stuck.
To see how a relatively happy person can experience depression, please check out this recent TED Talk:
What is really bad, as Kevin Breel points out, is that we all are depressed to some degree. We all have issues. We all could use some counseling. I am proud to say that I have become an incredibly strong person, despite my recent struggles, through going to counseling through LDS Family Services. I could not imagine my life without this assistance. Years ago I could not believe it when the person I am referring to had suggested I seek counseling. I had felt insulted. That is just the way our culture works.
Just say you admit you have some issues that could be resolved through counseling. If you start talking about it to a friend, it is possible that friend may stop talking to you. Your friend may think you are weird. Your friend may think you’re too much to handle, may judge you, and possibly stop being there for you. All I can think of is this person also needs help. This person is afraid of the shame that may come upon him / her for needing help, too. We need to stop being afraid. If we all are in need of help to some degree, then there is no shame in seeking counseling. If anything, be proud that you were strong enough to seek out help!
For me, I stopped doing many things. I was stuck. It was so easy to no longer cook, clean, do dishes, etc. I did not know how to move on. Since I did not have the closure I was hoping for, it seems as if I was unable to create closure in other areas of my life. Doing dishes meant the previous meal had come to a close. Picking up after myself meant I was done with the recent project at hand.
I even stopped doing many things I enjoyed doing! In addition to cooking, I have almost never been reading my books, writing in my journal / blog, or reading my Scriptures. For a while I even stopped going hiking or reaching out to friends to hang out or talk.
The more depressed I felt, the less likely I was to reach out to friends for companionship. Just like Brené Brown’s explanation of shame, I had that devilish voice inside saying, “Don’t bother calling her. She’s sick of hearing your sob stories!” “Don’t waste your time calling him. He has a life. He is married, has kids, has a job, other friends, and in no way hastime to listen to you feeling sorry for yourself!”
It is all a lie. My life is filled with so many wonderful people. I am just a phone call or text away from some amazing souls who would give anything for me. I have a second family living two buildings away. I am even considered an uncle to their children. If I can fool myself into thinking they don’t care about me, then I can sell Eskimo Pies to Eskimos! I have other family members and friends who love me dearly. I know I have added so much value to their lives with my time, talents, and love. It’s illogical that I could ever feel alone in this world I have created for myself.
To get another perspective on things, I invite you to watch this talk, quite similar to that of Kevin Breel. It was recently delivered during the October, 2013 General Conference of the LDS Church. Although there are some stuff that is LDS-specific, the majority of the message could be related to by anyone.
“Trust [in] happier days ahead.” -Elder Jeffrey R Holland
No matter what you are going through, there is someone else out there with a similar story. I know through experience that when I get down, I start playing the victim role. I begin to feel sorry for myself. “No one else out there feels the way I do.” “Nobody would ever believe me.” “No one else could understand.” Again, these are all lies. These lies just push us farther from the healing process. We are a lot more similar to each other than we would normally accept or want to believe.
If at times you feel down, just know that you are not the only one. I am here with you. I sometimes become depressed, too. What I can tell you is that I am almost in a good mood. That comes from this inextinguishable fire inside that keeps me going. No matter what, I am imperfect. I will make mistakes that I will regret. This usually is followed by guilt (and sometimes shame).
The first thing you need to do is to talk to someone about things. That’s what I do. People love to help others. There is someone out there who wants to listen to you. I know I surely would! You may be apprehensive, thinking you may scare some people away. This is going to come across as harsh, but that’s okay if you lose some friends. This is not only a test in life for you, but it is also a great test to find out who your real friends are. The best friends will listen to you over and over and over.
If I come to someone for help / companionship because I am down, I am not looking for a lecture. I am hurt. I need someone to listen to me. I need someone to let me know that although what I am going through is not desirable, the way I feel is normal and okay. Cutting me down or otherwise judging me for my mistakes will never assist me in improving my situation. You should be looking for that same kind of support when needed as I am describing.
Sometimes all we need is a warm embrace. Before you are quick to judge, take a moment to discover your sense of empathy. Listen to that person in need; you might be that person sometime soon needing help yourself.
This became much bigger than I had anticipated. Although I have had so many wonderful experiences in life to bring me happiness for a whole lifetime, sometimes life does get me down. Sometimes I don’t know what to do in certain situations. Sometimes, I get stuck altogether. The thing is, my story is the same as yours. The only difference between you and me is we have different chapter titles and character names in our stories.
Thank you for listening.