I have been listening to colorblind from glee cast a lot lately. Simply a beautiful song with lyrics that speaks to me. I am adding the video here and hope you like as much as me.
This post is from everyday health, you can find the original article here
Though public understanding of depression has improved somewhat over the years, we as a society still frequently misunderstand or overlook depression and its symptoms.
Because of the continuing stigma, we don’t always recognize when people in our lives are struggling with this illness. Worse, too many people go undiagnosed because of erroneous assumptions about how depression manifests and what to look for.
This results in a number of people who’s depression is hidden, either from others or from themselves. Especially when a person with depression is undiagnosed, they may develop ways of coping with their problems that conceals their illness from those around them or keeps the person from recognizing their symptoms for what they are.
We need to unlearn the assumption that suffering is always clearly visible to us, so that we can better understand and help those who struggle with illnesses that go unseen. Here are some signs that someone might have hidden depression.
1. They might not “look depressed”
Due to media and cultural stereotypes, most of us have assumptions about how someone behaves and looks if they’re struggling with depression. We imagine someone who rarely leaves their room, doesn’t dress themselves well, and constantly looks miserable, but people with depression do not all behave in the same way.
All people are, of course, different from each other, and the symptoms and coping abilities of people with depression also differ. Many are able to keep up a facade of good mental health to protect themselves, but they aren’t suffering any less simply because they can do this. Similarly, those who are unable to keep up such a facade are not “weaker” than those who can.
2. They may often seem exhausted or complain about always being tired
A prevalent side effect of depression is constant exhaustion. Not everyone with the disorder struggles with it, but it’s extremely common. For those who experience this symptom with their depression, it’s often one of the hardest side effects to cope with.
Also, if someone is living with an undiagnosed depression disorder, the cause of their exhaustion can be baffling. They can get plenty of sleep each night and still wake up every morning feeling like they only slept a few hours. Worse, they may blame themselves, believing it to be laziness or some other personal fault that’s causing their low energy levels.
This is also a symptom that’s difficult to conceal for those who have been diagnosed with depression but are attempting to keep it from their peers, as it often affects their workload and personal relationships.
3. They can be unusually irritable
A depressed person’s behavior might be interpreted as melancholy even if that’s not what they’re really feeling. Irritability is a frequently overlooked symptom of depression that is also very common. This should be understandable, since depression is a health problem you can’t “see” or strictly measure, making it hard to combat.
The constant work it takes to keep up all the necessary aspects of life while dealing with depression also drains the person, and leaves little room for patience or understanding.
If someone you know discovers they’re clinically depressed and shares this with you, you may initially be confused if their previous behavior didn’t fit the common misconception of the shy, silent depressed person. If they tend to have a short temper and are quick to annoy, that’s actually a side effect of depression.
4. They could have a tough time responding to affection and concern
The main misconception about depression, which has been hinted at in the paragraphs above, is that it’s about “feeling” sad.
On the contrary, depression is mostly not feeling anything, or only partially and briefly experiencing emotions. It depends on the individual, but some people with depression report feeling almost “numb,” and the closest thing to an emotion they experience is a kind of sadness and/or irritation.
Because of this, appropriately responding to gestures or words of affection will be difficult for them, or they just don’t think about it any more.
They may even get irrationally irritated or annoyed with you over it, because it may simply be too difficult for their brains to process and respond to your loving gestures.
5. They might frequently turn down activities they used to love or would otherwise enjoy
Unless other explanations could equally be possible, an uncharacteristic lack of interest in activities over an extended period of time could be a sign that someone has depression. As mentioned above, depression is just as physically draining as it is mentally draining, which makes enjoying all the things you usually do difficult.
Previously-loved activities can even lose their appeal in general, because depression also commonly makes it difficult to enjoy or feel fulfilled by much at all. If you have no other way of explaining their decreasing interest, it could be a symptom of clinical depression.
6. They can develop abnormal eating habits
Abnormal eating habits mainly develop for two reasons: as a form of coping, or as a side effect of lack of self-care. Eating too little or too much is a common sign of depression. Overeating is often shamed the most, when food can be the one source of pleasure a depressed person is able to give themselves and thus causes them to eat excessively.
When a depressed person is eating too little, it’s often because their depression is affecting their appetite and making eating unappealing. It can also be a subconscious need to control something, since they cannot control their depression. If someone is undiagnosed or has not shared that they have depression, people will assume their eating habits are a personal fault and judge them for it, making the person feel worse.
7. They may start needing more from you
A depressed person legitimately can’t function like a mentally health person. There will be things they will no longer be able to do as much of, as often, or at all. Pestering or shaming them about it will only hurt, not help. If they’ve been keeping their depression private, it will be that much harder to deal with others getting irritated with them because they can’t perform at the level that’s expected of mentally healthy people.
This is why it’s always best to be understanding with those in your life, both work and personal. You don’t know if someone isn’t just slacking off, but is struggling with a real health problem.
8. They can have bad days, and “better” days
Depression can have its ups and downs. If someone has hidden or undiagnosed depression, they might seem like they get random mood swings, depending on if their depression is consistent or not. To you (and to them, if they are undiagnosed), the changes in mood seem without cause, but it’s simply how some people’s depression manifests.
If you know the person has depression, it’s possible to falsely believe they’re permanently better because of a few “good” days. While it’s always great if someone has a day that’s better than the one before it, you should always let them tell you what they’re ready to handle and when.
Assuming they’ve completely recovered and pushing them too quickly into things might overwhelm them and make them retreat into themselves again. Be supportive of your friends and family who have depression, but let them make the calls.
I love reading books. Especially book that makes you think about your own life, or give you a glimpse into a world you didn’t know excited. Furiously happy is one of these books.
In her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.
According to Jenny: “Some people might think that being ‘furiously happy’ is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he’s never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos.”
“Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you’d never guess because we’ve learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, ‘We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.’ Except go back and cross out the word ‘hiding.'”
FURIOUSLY HAPPY is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it’s about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways-and who doesn’t need a bit more of that?
Depression is like a heavy, black blanket where no light comes in. It is hard to breathe, as if someone put a candle inside a glass-jar with no oxygen. It is even hard to see any light, any hope as the blackness surrounding you hides what could have been positive and uplifting. Luckily, there are ways to throw the blanket away, even if it`s heavy and you feel like the energy to lift it just isn`t there. Here are ten things you can do if you feel depressed or hopeless.
- Try to figure out what used to make it happy. Write it down and read it when you feel sad. Try to do some of the things that were good for you before you got depressed. This can be small things, like eating something you like. For someone it can be meeting a trusted friend, or playing your favorite music
- Find or make a box that is only yours. Feel free to decorate it any way you want. In it you can put things that remind you of the good things in life. It can be pictures from times you felt happy, emails or letters from someone who care about you, or objects from your past that you loved, and that remind you of happier times.
- Talk with people who care about you.
- Get out of bed. No matter how tired or lethargic you feel, try to get up and do SOMETHING. If you are seriously depressed, everything is an effort, so remind yourself that it is a real accomplishment if you manage to do small things. Depression is a serious condition, almost like having cancer or another disease. It`s not your fault, and you deserve to give yourself positive feedback like you would to a friend who suffers.
- Try to exercise. Research shows that only five minutes of intense exercise is enough to produce results. Your mood will life and your brain will be flooded with nutrients and oxygen that might contribute to feeling better. If you can`t manage to get a pulse, try to at least take a walk or do something else that involves moving your body.
- Take a warm shower, and feel every drop on your skin. Feel the warmth, if possible close your eyes to intensify the experience.
- Register what you think. Depression have a profound effect on your thinking, so it`s important to notice what you say to yourself, especially if you start to harass yourself. You would`t verbally abuse someone else, so why do it to yourself?
- Eat healthy. Some types of food are known to lift your spirits. It might be diary products like cottage cheese or warm milk with honey, or types of food with tryptofan, the precursor to serotonin. Serotonin if often lacking in depressed brain, so try to enhance the level of it by being conscious about what you eat.
- Read good books with tips, or stories from others who have been depressed and managed to get out of it. In this way, you won`t feel so alone. I highly recommend books from David Burns, they are easy to read and full of practical tips.
- Protect yourself. When depressed, you don`t need to put yourself down by being self-destructive. A lot of depressed people, feel they don`t deserve anything good. But isn`t it the other way around? When you feel so bad, you actually need to be taken care of, either by others or yourself. Self-soothing and self-compassion are two of the most important skills you need to get better.
- For some it might help to write down happy memories you`ve had. Read it when you feel like nothing good happens, because our brains are biased to search for mood-congruent information and this might get you out of the rut. If we are sad, sad memories pop up like balloons eager to burst. For that reason, reminders might be necessary to drag yourself out of the negativity spiral.
These are just some tips, what matters the most is finding your own ways to fight depression. These tips might ignite some ideas that might help you remember what to do when you feel like everything is hopless. Depression is like your enemy in a war, so be sure to be well equipped when you have to defend yourself from lethal attacks.
June 6 at 9:04 PM
Inside the newly opened Meditation Museum in Silver Spring, exhibits refer to the pursuit of “God,” the “Supreme Soul” and often “The One.” A constant visual theme is orangeish-reddish light emanating from a vague, otherworldly source. The message is clear: Meditation is about connecting with the divine.
“If the mind can be in a state of experiencing the energy of God’s light or presence,” said Sister Jenna Mahraj, a nightclub owner turned spiritual teacher whose organization opened the museum this year, “it’s like everything we tend to find so disheveled — it starts to find its own purpose.”
Yet in gyms, businesses and public schools in every direction from the museum — which sits on busy Georgia Avenue — meditation is often presented as something akin to mental weight-lifting: a secular practice that keeps your brain and emotions in shape. Gyms list it alongside Zumba classes, and public schools say it can help students chill out before tests by calming the mind and training it to look upon disruptive thoughts from a non-judgmental perspective.
This rough juxtaposition between the religious and secular versions of meditation epitomizes a key debate about the ancient practice as it explodes in the United States: What is the purpose of meditation? And who decides?
To Mahraj and her community, called the Brahma Kumaris, promoting the religious component is part of the purpose of the Silver Spring center, which is more about spiritual advocacy than a museum in the classic sense.
“This country needs to stop thinking meditation is about emptying your mind,” she said during a recent tour. “I respect all meditation practices, but I don’t necessarily believe in a practice that tries to ‘empty’ your thoughts. . . . I don’t think that’s normal.”
Mahraj is not alone in her concern that meditation might be getting too secular, which can be shorthand for saying that today it is often taught value-free — unattached to a philosophy or worldview. Hindu and Buddhist leaders in particular have raised concerns that meditation may be going the route yoga has in the West, where it has largely morphed from being a tool for enlightenment to one for a firmer tush.
“What are we teaching? That’s a very serious question for anyone who is taking these techniques out of a religious context and into the secular world,” said Clark Strand, a former Zen Buddhist monk who now writes and lectures on spirituality and the way Eastern philosophies are transformed in the West.
“Once you remove them from the spiritual context, then goals default to those of the culture, and that could be to win a war, or make money, or to self-medicate so you can do a job you hate or for which you aren’t paid enough,” Strand said. “Who does [meditation] serve today? Who does it belong to? Is its purpose spiritual or just a commodity?”
Ironically, when meditation began its expansion a decade or so ago from Buddhist retreats and alternative communes to the American mainstream, institutional religion was wary that the practice was too religious — but not in a sufficiently monotheistic Judeo-Christian way.
“The biblical worldview is completely at odds with the pantheistic concepts driving Eastern meditation. We are not one with an impersonal absolute being that is called ‘God.’ Rather, we are estranged from the true personal God” because of our inherent sin, evangelical philosopher Douglas Groothuis wrote in Christianity Today in 2004 — a piece typical of what was found in religious media as meditation began its ascent. “The answer to our plight is not found in some ‘higher level of consciousness’ (really a deceptive state of mind), but in placing our faith in the unmatched achievements of Jesus Christ on our behalf.”
But meditation has spread too far and too successfully into areas such as the treatment of depression, addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder for the debate to remain simply: Is it too secular or too religious? This is because meditation’s boom comes at a time of remarkable openness to questions about religion itself, with people — particularly young ones — probing much more about what, exactly, constitutes a “religious” practice, belief or prayer.
For example, while some say meditating for stress relief is “secular,” doesn’t that address a very modern-day type of suffering? Or is something else theologically meant by the word “suffering”? If you practice a type of focus meditation that involves, for example, chanting a basic word such as “love,” is that secular or religious?
And what is really meant by meditation leaders who tell students to practice “emptying their mind”? People such as Mahraj would see such a phrase as devoid of any philosophy, but others would say secular-sounding phrases aren’t necessarily “empty.”
“That’s a straw man,” prominent brain-science writer Daniel Goleman said of the idea that secular practice teaches nothing in particular. “It pays to stop your stressed-out mind state, let your psychology calm down and your mind clear, that’s just human engineering. In the Buddhist context that’s a preliminary state to a spiritual journey.”
Goleman is the author of “A Force for Good,” a book due out this month about pragmatic — one might say secular — applications of the Dalai Lama’s teachings.
The blurry lines between religious and secular are at play in Mahraj’s work, too. The Brahma Kumaris, an 80-year-old spiritual movement with roots in India, teaches that meditation and prayer are about coming closer to God and “that each one of us is an eternal spirit or soul.” In an effort to spread its teachings in the Washington region, the group opened its museum in downtown Silver Spring six years ago. It relocated to the new space in April.
But in addition to espousing the beliefs of those behind the center, the museum offers a broad range of more secular self-help activities such as courses on vegetarian cooking and budgeting. Mahraj, whose parents were Hindu and Catholic, speaks in area schools, to challenged youth in particular. She hosts a Web-based talk show called “America Meditating.”
But Mahraj says that the purpose of the meditation her group teaches is religious. The regular practice of the Brahma Kumaris is to meditate at home for 45 minutes at 4 a.m., then attend a class together at 6 a.m. that is part silent meditation and part teaching, she said.
“We’re not teaching people to empty their minds,” she said. “We’re teaching them to fill their minds with the right kind of things.”
The soaring interest in meditation has prompted many religious groups to revive their own ancient meditative practices. Jesuit meditation retreats and church-run classes on “centering prayers” — a contemplative Christian practice — are popping up everywhere, as are programs on Jewish meditation. Muslims are discussing more if the classic practice of reciting many names of Allah is a type of meditation.
But the secular-religious debate is appearing among faith groups, too. Some find centering prayers — which call for the practitioner to focus on a general word such as “mercy” rather than liturgy — too secular, said the Rev. Jim Martin, a popular Catholic writer on spirituality who leads retreats in Catholic contemplative practices.
“Some Catholics are suspicious about centering. They’ll say: ‘That’s so Buddhist, is that a mantra?’ ” he said.
Martin and others see meditation as perhaps a secular society’s way of tiptoeing back to God.
“Some say the Christian of the future will be a mystic or not a Christian at all,” he said. “You have to have a spiritual life.”
Anout the author:
Michelle Boorstein is the Post’s religion reporter, where she reports on the busy marketplace of American religion.