Tag Archives: Depression

Positivity, how it can harm and how it can help you.

Positivity has become fashionable. And as somebody who’s never taken to the EMO culture, I’m glad. But as with everything else, there’s a healthy and unhealthy approach to positivity. And as positivity focused as I am, I can also be annoyed by some of the mantras circulating on social media and among friends.

 

Positivity is harmful when you take it too literally. When you block out the hurt and sadness that comes with living by trying to shake it off with mantras like “Oh well, I’m grateful to have the gift of life”, or something equally Pollyanna like, you’re not really dealing with the negative things that come your way and that’s not healthy.

 

Imagine a dinner plate. Initially it’s clean. Then you eat fish, the next day you have pork, the next day lentils and then chicken and so on. And you don’t clean the plate between meals other than sprinkling some water on it. Though the plate is physically okay to eat from, the residue from the earlier meals will be there and eventually as you eat from the plate and never wash it, all sort of disgusting organisms might start building their own dinner plate colony.

 

By always smiling and reciting positive mantras, your mind will end up as grimy as that dinner plate. And eventually the positivity will turn on you and you might have a mental breakdown which it might take both time and professional help to recover from.

 

Let’s go back to the dinner plate. Say now that you do clean it after every meal. You’ve taken time to clear any traces of the previous meal away and the plate is as good as new. That is also how you should treat your mind. It won’t be a guarantee against long term depression, but by going through your negative experiences and dealing with them in a way that works for you, will be helpful in keeping a good mental hygiene. Everything will probably be ok and improve tomorrow, but get the hurt out so that you start off with a clean slate.

 

And what about when it won’t be ok? How do you use positivity towards someone who is terminally ill in respectful manner that’s not gonna infuriate them? I’m no psychologist, but I’ve experienced enough terminal illness with close family members that I have an idea. It’s not something that will be deemed positive in the traditional sense.. But if you think that being there by a terminally ill loved one who more than anything wants you by their side isn’t a good thing, though sad, then isn’t that a form of positivity? And as what to say to them, stay away from “It’ll be fine”; unless they believe in an afterlife that you know they’re keen on getting too. , I think the safest thing is to say “I’m here, I’m not going anywhere and I’m letting you know. It’s up to you what you wanna do with that information.”

 

Positivity isn’t just about good visible results and happy endings. Positivity is about love, self-belief, living in the now, being comfortable with yourself and your emotions, being a good friend and those moments and experiences that keep you moving forward. It is also about cleaning out the old and making space for the new.

 

Positivity is a powerful and constructive tool that can make life more bearable. But be mindful, which is another annoyingly trendy word, of how you manifest it. There’s nothing wrong with mantras. But for your own sake, it’s better to use mantras that you can live by and stand for. But I think mantras are very personal and in my experience it’s better to project positivity onto someone else by actions rather than just than mantras.

It’s a real disorder: Let’s talk about Winter depression

Winter depression, Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). As we say in Norwegian, “Dear child has many names”. Though this isn’t exactly a dear condition.

It’s real though. It tends to hit some of us who are unlucky enough to live somewhere where there’s proper winter. I say unlucky, because if you’re hard hit by this, winter is a bit of a living hell.

Winter is ok if you’re in the mountains, skiing and it’s sunny. However, that’s not what winter looks like in everyday life. Those kinds of winter moments are usually saved for the holidays and they actually happen closer to spring. Oh, the irony.

Not everybody has SAD. I however, am so unfortunate as to be hit quite hard most years. I was under the illusion that I had escaped it this year. We’re half way through February, so spring is technically close. However, after not having seen the sun for about two weeks, I had to admit defeat.

Winter depression is pretty much like any other depression. But contrary to say, clinical depression, winter depression can be cured by just going to somewhere where there’s a lot of sunshine and light. I miss Nigeria!

Like with other kinds of depression though, your everyday life is affected. I find that the only way I am able to function in the darkest of winter days, is to treat my life as a long to do list. I don’t enjoy doing anything when I am this down. Not even the things I normally enjoy doing. So I write out schedules to follow to make sure that I go through the motions.
But though this works most days, I have days where I am unable to do much more than stay in bed. Everything from work to social life is affected by this. And the fact that I am too depressed to do anything gets me down even more. Vicious circle.

What adds to my winter depression, is the ice and snow on the ground, because it makes it near impossible for me to move around outside independently. The snow cover up landmarks I feel for and the soundscape is altered. As for the ice, I have the same issues as everyone else, except I don’t have the luxury of seeing where there’s less ice, so I can’t always avoid the icy stretches. I can just about walk routes that I know well in the winter. I need to go grocery shopping for example. But on bad days, the mental energy isn’t there. So the winter, as well as taking my beloved sunshine and light, also isolates me somewhat.

So if somebody mentions Seasonal Affective Disorder, or Winter Depression, take it seriously. For those of us who have it, it’s very real. We’re not trying to complain or be negative. It’s called a disorder for a reason. Many people don’t take this seriously, so I want to stress the importance of this.

Needless to say, I have been counting down to spring for a while and will keep doing so. I think I need to just stay in Africa or somewhere else sunny for all of next winter to avoid the depression. Isn’t it funny how easy, yet complicated it is to cure it? And no, the lamps don’t work for me. It has to be biological light.