There is no doubt that 2020 has been rough for many of us for several reasons, highlighting the pandemic that has done disasters to our routines. All of us are battling fear, uncertainty,depression, helplessness, and stress. The situation has made it very difficult to keep the negative emotions and depression at bay. 

However, this situation has also brought our attention to mental health issues. The health talk has caught fire since almost everyone is fighting stress, anxiety, or depression one way or another. This has inspired me to take a walk down memory lane about my learning journey and deal with these issues. Thinking about how I dealt with my mental health issues, I have realized that I could have done better if I been better aware. 

One or two years down the lane, if someone had asked me about my thoughts on depression and suicide, I would have said that there cannot be a thing like suicidal thoughts. I would have said that life is just too precious to think about ending it. I would have said that if someone thinks about ways to end their life, they are just plain stupid, or they don’t know the beauty of life. I know I sound like a douche. Probably. 

However, I never intended for my views to be insensitive or hurtful, but now that I think of it, they sound insensitive. It was either my impracticality or naivete or that I didn’t understand the human minds complexities and darkness. But now I know that saying how can you be depressed, life is so beautiful sounds more like how can you have asthma while there is so much air.

Having experienced it firsthand, I would like to say I understand some stuff about depression and self-harm way better now than I did before. Lets start with some brutal honesty; we acknowledge and claim to understand mental health issues (depression, anxiety, self-harm) only as long as we don’t meet anyone who has them or if we suffer from them, ourselves. 

Then we label that person as being crazy or unstable and leave them to deal with it on their own. That is one of the possible reasons why most people don’t reach out about their issues. Take it from someone who has been there. The most challenging thing to do when facing any mental problems is to talk to someone about it. 

This difficulty is partly because when you, yourself, cannot comprehend your mental situation, how can you explain it to someone else. Moreover, you feel like even if you try to make someone understand, they’ll take it in the wrong way. So to battle depression or help someone else fight it, we need to understand how it works. Although there is no manual for understanding such complex mental states, some tips can still work wonders. 

So lets get to what depression is. According to the American Psychiatric Association, Depression is a common and severe medical illness that adversely affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.Depression causes feelings of melancholy and a loss of attentiveness in activities you once relished. It can lead to a range of emotional and physical difficulties and can decrease your ability to function. 

However, grief and sadness are different from depression. Suffering is related to loss, whereas someone can be depressed even when everything in their life is going smoothly, or they seem to have everything. Some people confuse their grief with depression. However, in some cases, distress can lead to depression. So it’s vital to know the difference between the two. 

Now, about the symptoms, the symptoms of depression vary. However, the most common include a sullen mood most of the time, sadness, loss of enjoyment even in the activities you once relished, changing or troubled sleeping patterns, and fatigue. Some other symptoms are severe changes in appetite, loss of self-worth, loss of concentration, difficulty in establishing an emotional connection, pessimism, unrequited bouts of anger, negative or hopeless outlook on life, and many more.
Although these symptoms sound common, if left untreated, they can go from mild to severe. The question that arises now is, what can we do about it? The most important thing that needs to be done is the evaluation, followed by a diagnosis. Depression is a mental condition that is very much treatable. 

However, it must be evaluated and diagnosed by a medical professional to rule out any complications and to get a clearer picture regarding the treatments. Therefore, it is so imperative to get professional advice. But sometimes, it is challenging to convince yourself or someone else with depression (or any mental health issue) to reach out to a professional or get help. 

What can be done in such a situation is to motivate that person regarding seeing a professional. You can even offer to find them an excellent therapist to go to. I’m sure they will find this a big help. If they’re still not convinced, you can even suggest them to see the family doctor since most people feel more comfortable with their family doctor than they do with any other health practitioner. 

Once they see a professional, try to motivate them to continue going to therapy. Convince your friend to follow the therapists instructions and to take medicine if prescribed. Motivate them to do little things that can make them feel productive. Moreover, motivating them to see a therapist and supporting them through their treatment is essential; something that may matter
more than that is the emotional support you can offer them. 

Let them know you’re there for them and that they can count on you. Listen to what they have to say. Give them credit and endorse their feelings. Be kind and empathetic to them. Please don’t say something to discredit their feelings. Please don’t make them feel any more pessimistic than they already do. 

Don’t demotivate them. Finally, in trying to take care of your friends or loved ones dealing with depression, don’t forget yourself. You are of no use to them if you are not well yourself. Sometimes, we tend to give so much of ourselves to others that we have so little left for ourselves. Help your friends but save some of your energy for yourself. Try to set boundaries and don’t get carried away. Please do not forget to take time to yourself and practice self-care. You owe that to yourself.

Author: Rtr. Syeda Rawish Zahra
Club: Rotaract Club, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.
RID: RID, 3272.
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