Do you ever feel so melancholic that you think you’re depressed? You don’t feel like getting out of bed. You don’t want to work. And you don’t even want to be around people.
Over the course of my adult life, I’ve felt that way several times. It’s not good. No one wants to feel that way.
But when you do feel that way, you can’t help but ask yourself: Am I depressed? And if you’ve ever asked yourself that question, I can tell you from personal experience and research that it’s a good thing.
Asking a question like that is better than saying, “I’m depressed.” I hear people saying it all the time. But is that really the case? Do you even know what depression is? What makes you think you are depressed?
The Definition Of Depression
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) defines it as follows:
“Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.”
It happens to all of us, right? Life is hard. You can’t expect to have tailwinds all the time. Sometimes things don’t go your way. You experience failure, loss, sadness, and a range of other “negative” emotions.
And that results in bad performance. Not only at work, but also at your personal relationships. When your performance suffers, you’re on dangerous ground.
Because until now, I’m basically saying that life is hard and that it’s not weird that you feel bad. But when are you truly depressed?
APA says that symptoms must last at least two weeks. But even if you’re feeling down for two weeks, that doesn’t mean you’re depressed for life!
There’s an immense stigma on talking about depression. We’re either quick to say, “I’m depressed!” Or we don’t say it at all.
And often, the people who say they are depressed, are just experiencing hardship. They’re not truly depressed.
Face Your Demons
Look, don’t be surprised if you feel bad during tough times.
Let’s say you lose your job, a family member passes away, a relationship ends, your child becomes ill, or your living situation is horrible — and you feel depressed.
GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK.
Those are all mentally hard things to cope with. And often, you can’t do that by yourself. So when you feel sad for a longer period, and your performance suffers from it, ask yourself the question: Am I depressed?
That question has helped me a lot because it sparks introspection—which is the beginning of improvement.
When my grandmother past away, I lived in London in a shitty studio, away from my family and close friends. That was a tough time, and I felt bad.
But I don’t want to say, “look at how hard my life was.” If you’re alive, and if you live in a wealthy country, you honestly have a good life. But you can still feel depressed.
And when you do, it’s important to face your demons. Don’t run away from feeling depressed. There’s no shame in it. I also know people who feel guilty. “I have a good life, and yet I feel like shit. What’s wrong with me?”
That’s modern life in a nutshell. We never get down to the bottom of our challenges.
Carl Jung, one of the most influential psychiatrists, wrote this in Psychology and Alchemy:
“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
You can’t reach inner CALM without an inner FIGHT. Once you realize that, you will get better at coping with life. No matter what you do, don’t avoid your own thoughts, sadness, and like Jung said: Your soul.
If you want to read more about psychology and the works of Jung, I recommend reading Modern Man In Search Of A Soul. It helps you to understand the internal darkness and see the beauty in the struggle.
Hardship Vs. Mental Illness
I’ve never been chronically depressed. So I’m not pretending that simple introspection works for everyone. Depression is real. It’s not a decision or something that people do to themselves. It’s also not a part of your personality.
Chronic depression is called “persistent depressive disorder” in psychiatry. That’s when you’re gloomy for years. And then there’s major depression, which is worse. If you feel depressed for longer than two weeks, seek help.
The last thing you want is to walk this planet in a depressed state. We must be honest — that’s a mental illness. And mental illness, like all illness, needs to be treated.
Don’t Feel Sorry For Yourself
But if you’re just feeling bad now and then — stop feeling so sorry for yourself. Your life is good. And if it’s not, MAKE it good.
That’s your only obligation in life. In a sense, we’re born with that responsibility. When we come to this world, we’re naked and fragile. Throughout the years, we become stronger.
And if you’re feeling up and down a lot, don’t blame life. In fact, blame nothing and no one.
There’s only one thing you can do: Become stronger so you can deal with hardship.