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Around this time of year, you can find endless charts and articles comparing colds and flu. Is it a cold or is it the Flu? The symptoms of each are then compared, with the hope that the reader will pinpoint what’s making them sick, then be able to brag to their family that they either have the “worst cold ever” or the “most severe flu known to man.”
When it comes to determining mild depression, severe depression, or (as is more often the case) a simple case of the blues – things are quite a bit harder to read.
Let’s get the obvious taken care of first:
If you EVER feel so down that thoughts of suicide or a feeling of “I honestly don’t care if I live or die” enter your mind, see a doctor immediately. Thinking that you, all by yourself, can treat depression this severe is equivalent to thinking you, by yourself, could cure cancer with an olive. You deserve a happier life, and you know it as well as I do!
If you’re feelings of sadness are interfering with your life – to the point that you don’t want to do activities you once enjoyed, and if this has been going on for more than two weeks, re-read the paragraph above, paying close attention to the last sentence!
Then, there’s the obvious group of people who are dealing with sadness and unhappiness for a legitimate reason: The loss of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, financial trouble, illness, a bad relationship, etc. These are all temporary dark valleys and we all go through at least one of them in our lifetime. Fortunately the sun comes out again eventually.
But what about the feelings of unhappiness that have no apparent cause?
If you’re like most people, the thought of suicide is as far removed from you as obesity is from the Olsen twins. What’s more, you probably still take an active role in your favorite activities. For the most part, if you’re busy and others are around, no one would even guess that your world has turned mostly blue.
It’s my sincerest belief that many times what we feel isn’t a feeling of unhappiness as much as it’s simply the absence of happiness. In the same way that an 18 year old will moan, “I’m so bored…” – we often say, “I feel so down…” When, truth be told, what both are experiencing is an absence of stimulation – not the presence of another plague.
Think about it. We’ve all gotten to the point where we feel like we have to be busy or entertained during our every waking hour. Whether it’s the tv, the internet, the radio or a portable movie player, have we, or have we not, forgotten how to simply enjoy quiet time? Our society has even made phones more entertaining and exciting.
When the buzz and bedlam quite down and we find ourselves alone with our thoughts – if we aren’t careful we can mistakenly identify the situation. Instead of embracing the quiet and still, and welcoming the clarity and peacefulness it can bring, some people often think, “Uh oh. Something’s wrong.” Then they rush right in to claim their boredom or depression.
Next time you feel out of sorts, hold yourself accountable. Ask if there’s actually a reason for the feelings or if you’re simply reacting to the increasingly oddity known as quiet.
I think we’d all benefit from reacquainting ourselves with quiet time! There’s a lot to be said for literally finding your quiet place and taking advantage of the clarity of mind it brings. As the art print at the top of the post says, The quieter you become, the more you hear.
~Make each quiet moment count double,