Optimism: Is it a deliberate choice or a mastery of the mind?
Think back to the worst moment of your life- whether it was the loss of a loved one, betrayal of a close friend, a serious fight with your best friend, heartbreak due to a bad breakup or long-term relationship, etc.
Now I want you to flashback to this particular, unpleasant moment, and think about how it made you feel? Devastated, frustrated, agitated, depressed, angry, remorseful? More likely than not, these unexpected situations life throws at us makes us feel less in control. Control is power and without it, we begin to feel empty. To put it bluntly, we like to have some type of control in our life; we simply crave it as human beings- it’s completely and utterly normal. However, when we lose our grip on the world this certain kind of emptiness begins to envelop us and transforms everything we used to feel into a stone-cold demeanor. It is almost like we’re dead on the inside but still trying to smile and shrug it off on the outside. With lack for a better word-it sucks. Sucks so bad that it literally sucks the life out of you…
Your entire outlook on life has changed and you can’t quite place a finger on it to pinpoint what triggered such an outrageous emotion in the first place? Where did these constant feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and unpleasantness come from? These continuous thoughts start to overpower you in such a way that you can’t seem to snap out of it even when you try your hardest. They start to cloud your judgment and what was once the easiest thing ever for you becomes incredibly difficult and challenging to accomplish. You want to cry and just let it all out-but you can’t. It feels like you are choking or worse (dying) and you can’t breathe but you’re still lying there wide awake like a statue-like figure that cannot move a muscle. You want to scream, beg, and cry for help- but you’ve lost your voice, your willpower to try and fight the anxiety off. You would love to more than anything to let the words out but you can’t find the right words and they just won’t come out. This becomes a torturous, frustrating cycle, as if someone is dragging you across a floor filled with needles- it aches but you can’t seem to make it stop.
That, my friends, is an abstract exaggeration of what really goes on in the mind of someone who suffers from chronic depression or a severe form of anxiety. More often than not, it is far worse than what I wrapped tightly in a nutshell. The indecisiveness doubles drastically and your ability to function like a normal human is a constant battle between the chemical imbalances/tricks your brain is pulling on you and your body’s reaction to it. Mental health, as often as it’s stigmatized, is a growing dilemma in not only the U.S. alone but throughout the world today. Depression being one of the major mental health illnesses out there, is frequently looked down upon and perceived as a “disability” in the workforce.
For instance, how many times have you overheard a parent scolding their eight-year old child with something like, “You’re only eight years old, what in the world can you possibly be depressed about?!”
The ignorance in that is beyond me but unfortunately, this is only one of the many parents out there who fail to recognize there is a serious problem and should be treated as such. It is really disheartening to watch, let alone have to suffer through all alone especially if your own parents and close family members fail to support you. Depression is a very real thing and an extremely terrifying one. Millions of children, adolescents, and adults suffer from it around the world on a daily basis. It becomes an internal battle with yourself everyday. Even getting out of bed can be a rewarding accomplishment for them. So, the next time you want to make a rude remark or overhear something similar to this in public- don’t just stand there and do nothing. Offer a helping hand or an ear to listen, you might be the only difference in that person’s life. It all begins and ends with you. You never know whose life you could save with such a small, simple gesture as this.
To move on,
Of course nobody likes to be depressed and sad all the time. Life is too short for that, but sometimes that is a lot easier said than done, along with a countless of other things. Keep in mind; you are not alone, ever. Chances are, you probably did not meet another similar individual to yourself yet- that you can genuinely relate to and trust. As opening up can be an extreme struggle, so can socializing with others, and meeting new friends. Essentially, even the easiest of tasks become the most difficult. Hence the reason why, I invite you to practice getting into a positive mindset first and allowing it to practically change your life. As the saying goes, “Attitude is the key to success.” It most certainly is but this does not occur overnight. For some, it’s almost a no-brainer, while for others it takes continuous effort day in and day out to change their “pessimistic” perspective on the world. It is not easy. If it were, everyone would be happy all the time and there would never be any issues right? We would all live in a perfectly, unified, just world and war would cease to exist. Unfortunately, the rational side of us, our conscience instructs us otherwise.
Telling a depressed or severely anxious person, “just start thinking positive” is a joke. It sounds like a solution, but once again, if they could do it all on their own-they would! The illness itself is a lot more powerful than that. It takes over their mind, actions, and thoughts-like a darkness that glooms over the sky once a stormy front approaches. It becomes cold, pitch-black, and like a bug you crawl so deep inside a hole to burry yourself in the sorrow that you cannot seem to overcome. Some days, the world is in your arms, while others, you never want to leave your room to face the cruel world of reality. You find yourself on the extreme spectrum of things; extremely happy, extremely depressed, or extremely mellow– there is no in between. Mediocre does not exist. You wish you can control your overflowing negative thoughts, emotions, and feelings, but you just can’t. You want to snap out of it and revert back to your true self, but you don’t know how. You want to cry, laugh, and sleep, but you are too distressed.
What keeps you up at night? Is it worth it? The pain, the sleepless nights, the manic crying episodes, etc.? In five years from now, is what you are excessively worrying about going to even matter? If your answer is no to one or more of these questions, then stop. Stop what you are doing and start living, my dear. As the polish saying goes, “Złość piękności szkodzi.” Translation in English: “Anger harms your beauty.” In this case, replace anger with anxiety or worry.
At the end of the day, if it does not matter then quit stressing yourself out about it. Worrying never changed anything, anyways. If actions speak louder than words, then I advise you to start ACTING now. Pray, laugh, drink, eat, cry, but most importantly don’t forget to LIVE. Live before it is too late. We spend so much of our precious life trying to build a perfect life for ourselves and others that we become oblivious to how much time is passing us by. There is no such thing as perfect. Imperfections are what makes each and every single one of us beautiful individuals, it makes us worthwhile, and sets us apart from others. Why compete with your friends, colleagues, or neighbors? Beg to differ, instead. There are so many negative pessimists in this world, why be like them? In a world where you can be anyone; be yourself. Focus on yourself, for yourself. You will be surprised of how much can change in such a short amount of time.
If there is a will, there is always a way. You just have to go out there seek it desperately, find it, but above all, pursue it. Do it in spite of what everyone else thinks, prove them wrong but more prominently- prove yourself right. Don’t be afraid to fail, struggle, and stand in one place– it is all part of the process. Don’t rush, take your time. Travel, enjoy the journey while it lasts because these moments do not last forever. Don’t take it for granted; embrace it and appreciate this very moment because this is exactly where you are supposed to be. You’re allowed to be a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously. It is OKAY not to have every aspect of your life figured out the older you become. Options become overwhelming and the road to success is never a smooth, well-paved one. Practice mindfulness and you are bound to a more happier and healthier you. Robert Frost reminds us, “I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.” After all, you are the best investment you can possibly make in this brief life because there is only one of you and tons of them. Make it everlasting.