The Battle With Depression

So this is something I’ve been dealing with most of my life. I don’t know if it’s a chemical thing or a personality thing or what. When I read Eat, Pray, Love, and Elizabeth Gilbert mentions that her therapist said that she would battling depression on and off for most of her life because she has a tendency towards it, I was like “Yes, that’s literally what I felt like I’ve been doing”.

The American Psychiatric Association provides the following definition for depression:

Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. 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.

The funny thing for me is that there usually isn’t a huge cause for it. I’ll be wandering around just doing what I need to be doing and suddenly, I will realize that I’m just not feeling like myself anymore. It’s not like some big event always causes it (although that has happened as well). It almost feels like a bunch of little things that stack on top of each other and when I look up, I’m under the weight of all of that stack. I end up feeling like no one gets it. I end up resenting people for not understanding how I feel. I end up feeling like I’m a hole that I will never get out of.

I remember feeling that way when I was younger but I didn’t realize what it was. I’m really good at continuing to put one foot in front of the other so I would just keep doing whatever I was supposed to be doing (school, work, etc.). I think when I finally visited a therapist for when I had it really bad is when I learned to recognize it for what it was.

It comes and goes. I’m in the middle of trying to pull myself out of it right now. The best thing about recognizing it and beating it is that once you do it one time, you know you can do it again. It is tiring. It is overwhelming. But it is possible. I’ll continue to put one foot in front of the other and find love and happiness where I can. I’ll find help where I can because I know that it’s not possible to do this entirely by myself either.

The American Psychiatric Association also says that:

Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life. Depression can strike at any time, but on average, first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Women are more likely than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime.

So if that’s you, please know you aren’t alone. There are a lot of us out there and we work hard at finding contentment and happiness. It’s not an easy battle but it’s one that is worth it. So get help, talk about it, do whatever you need to do to fight it. Because I promise that not being depressed really does feel good.

Couples and Communication

So I’m going to tell you the truth about my new year’s eve. My husband and I had a fight. It sucked. We were both tired and we had been dealing with illnesses traveling around our family for a few weeks. There came a point where stuff we had been thinking about and not saying just all came out. It wasn’t the greatest way to start off a new year but we figured it out.

We try to both be understanding of each other but sometimes, that leads to resentment. Holding stuff in doesn’t really help resolve anything and then, one of us ends up really angry at the other.

The problem with this situation is that constructive communication is something we both had to learn. Putting our ego aside for the benefit of our relationship is something we both had to learn. Talking to each other with the common end goal of moving forward is something we had to learn.

Unfortunately, these aren’t lessons that are readily available in the Indian culture. We don’t know that we need to continuously evolve in ourselves and in our relationships. The end goal is usually to get married. No one explains that you have to keep working on your relationship after the wedding. It’s just assumed that you will stay together regardless of anything else. We are taught that we just need do what we need to do and that’s it.

But that isn’t it. Awareness and improvement are a relatively new concept in the Indian community. Happiness and emotional needs are also new concepts as well. So we have to realize ourselves that we need to be able to look at our lives and analyze it so we can make it better. As a couple, we need to be able to talk to each other and figure out a way to move forward that is beneficial to both people.

Marriage is something that should be fun. Sometimes, there are occasions where it isn’t so much. But as long as we talk and try to understand each other, it should be a short-lived situation. Then, we go back to having fun.

My husband and I sure did.

Relationships: Be Lame or Have Fun

Relationships are hard. Even the best relationships take some work. But, it’s possible to make a relationship easier if you just know how.

The hardest part about any relationship between 2 people is that you are going to have 2 sets of personalities and opinions. And if you’re lucky, those personalities and opinions really make the relationship a lot of fun and exciting.

But occasionally, there will be clashes. Here’s the bottom line: you can either let those differences hurt your relationship or you can help make it stronger.

When I was younger and in a relationship, I held onto things every time there was a fight. I would stew in my anger about things not going my way or if it seemed like my wants and needs were being ignored. I grew up with that image in my head that my significant other was supposed to create my every happiness (I’m sure every Bollywood movie I saw and every fairy tale I read helped grow this expectation). How surprised was I to realize that that expectation didn’t translate into real life.

Somewhere, between all of my relationships, I learned how to be responsible for my own happiness. I learned that if my significant other was happy, I was happy. I learned that sometimes, in a relationship, you’ve got to swallow your pride so that you and your significant other can move forward together.

Now, I’m in a relationship where we encourage each other to do things that make us happy and give each other the space to do so. When we fight, we take some time out and then address the issue and move on. We realize it doesn’t help either of us to be mad over something just to keep our pride and, in that, lose time enjoying each other.

My husband told me one thing while we were dating that has stuck with me throughout our relationship: “You can either be lame or you can have fun.”

I choose to have fun every time.

 

A Tale of A Turban

I recently have taken a part in a movement called 1000 Speak For Compassion. It involves flooding the blogging community with stories of compassion. I think it’s important that we continue to see how compassion helps us rise past the struggles and keeps us moving in a positive direction.

This month’s theme is writing about Building From Bullying. I was lucky enough to not have to ever really deal with bullying but I have heard stories about what my husband went through as a child. I wanted to share one.

My husband moved to the US from Punjab in 1994. As a Sikh boy, he wore a turban. Now, we hear of stories today where children (and adults) who wear turbans are being bullied and harassed. And that’s today when we have so much access to information and knowledge to know that wearing a turban is just a part of their religion and culture. We know that wearing a turban shouldn’t have a negative connotation to it. And yet, as we see through social media and the news, it often still does.

So, in 1994, when we did not have this much access to information, of course, my husband was bullied for wearing a turban. He was the only Sikh male out of the 3 Indian people attending his school. The only reference that people had to Indian people was Apu from The Simpsons.

He would have to deal with name-calling with names such as “Towel Head” and “Diaper Head”. He would be asked if he rubbed his head, would a genie come out of it (he thought this point was pretty cool but was disappointed when it didn’t work)?

Kids would follow him around and talk to him in the “Apu” accent. They would tell him to go back where he came from. There was one kid in his Physical Education class that would sit behind him and constantly try to take off his turban from the bottom. This kid would steal his clothes from his gym locker and block him from going somewhere.

The teacher would notice and apologize but it didn’t always stop the harassment.

And it’s not that my husband wouldn’t want to defend himself. He thought about punching the kid that was bothering him. In the end, it wasn’t worth it to him because he reminded himself that his end goal was getting an education. His parents had worked really hard to move to America from India for him to get a good education and have success in life. Getting into a fight would only be a distraction.

It got so bad that when lunch periods happened, he decided he would rather go stand in a quiet, empty area of the school for 30 minutes rather than be in the cafeteria with the other kids. It turned out that this empty quiet area existed because there was a computer lab in that hallway. And even though my husband wasn’t a part of that particular class, the teacher let him come in during his lunch period and play around on the computers.

My husband used the opportunities and developed his interest in computers. Today, he is a software engineer with his own successful business.

He didn’t let the bullying become bigger than he was. He was also lucky that the bullying wasn’t to the point of being seriously physically and emotionally abused.

Eventually, the bullying did stop. Once the children realized that he was smart and they needed his help, they stopped being disrespectful based on his looks. Even the kid that would bother him in his physical education class came to him for help with a computer project.

The compassion that the computer teacher showed him by letting him just be a part of the computer lab helped drive him on his path to success. During those 30 minutes each day, he found something that he really loved to do. It kept his focus on the good and kept him moving towards his ultimate goal.

We can only hope that others who face bullies today know how to focus inward and find something that gives them confidence. We hope that they have the courage to move past it and have the support to thrive beyond the bullies. We hope that there is someone to show them compassion when they need it.

Trust Your Gut

Have you ever been in a situation where your body was telling you to get the hell out? You felt uncomfortable and you knew something just wasn’t right about what was going on. You felt stressed and on some level, unhappy (if you chose to admit it to yourself). How many times have you ignored that feeling and gone on to do whatever you were doing anyways? 

I have. With relationships, with jobs, with situations. And I always ended up making myself completely miserable before I realized that I should have just listened to my gut and walked away from the situation.

Why is it that we trust what everyone else says but we don’t trust ourselves? And later on, in hindsight, we look back and clearly see all of the red flags. 

If you don’t feel comfortable in a situation, it’s probably a sign that it’s not the right situation for you. It might be a good opportunity or a good person to date but something is off somewhere and your gut is telling you to acknowledge that before moving forward. 

This especially goes for those who are being forced into a situation (like marriage, maybe?)

This is your life. Remember that. Just because there are those around you that think that you should do something doesn’t mean you should if it doesn’t feel right. You will be the one who has to live with this day in and day out. So it might mean some fighting to make sure that you are getting what you want but standing up for yourself is the only thing you can do when it comes to your own happiness. It’s not that other people don’t have your best interest at heart. It’s just that they might not have the same feelings you do. 

Know yourself. Know what’s right for you. Trust yourself. 

The Need to Be Right

Why is it that we have to be so sure that we know what we are doing all the time? Why is it that we have to always have the final word in a discussion or have to prove that we have all of the correct information? Why do we have this need to be right?

When I was younger, I definitely was like this all of the time. I don’t know if I was trying to prove something about myself or what the deal was. I would argue and fight and make sure everyone knew that I had the best opinion on whatever the situation was. I did learn and grow out of it even though there are times when this part of my personality still comes out. 

I’ve watched other people do this over and over again. There are those who manage to involve themselves in other people’s lives or who will walk away from a good thing just because they believe they are right. I honestly think it’s fine to fight for what you believe in. But why do we have to fight when it’s not something that definitely needs change? I used to fight over which movie actors were the best or what songs were good. I don’t think this is a discussion that needs to be rehashed 100 times to prove that I’m right. 

So what’s the deal then? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we fight uselessly when it’d be just as easy to let things go? Is it our ego? Is it that we have to prove that we are smarter or more knowledgeable to others? Why can’t we accept that we are all human and there is a chance that we might not know everything? 

I think it’s important to accept that there might be value in what someone else thinks and says. It’s important to keep an open mind and realize that we might not know everything. I think there are some fights not worth fighting. Sometimes, letting things go helps us protect ourselves from getting hurt when someone else forces their opinion onto us. Separating yourself takes the emotion out of a situation that might not be worth it. Giving someone else the time to express themselves might teach us something new. 

There are some fights worth fighting and some that are not. Sometimes, our own peace of mind is better than any fight.