MY LIST OF “GLIMPSES OF HOPE”

“Somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace”.

-Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love.

I had never, in my dreams, thought of penning down this experience of my life. But you know how God surprises you with those precious opportunities you never thought you could get? So I hope people will be kind and patient while reading this chapter of my life.

Glimpses of hope – this topic of Candles Online drives me back to the lane of my life where I was accompanied with a beloved friend of mine called “Depression”. I am sure every person reading this article has had a friend similar to mine, which proves that I am no extraordinary rather a normal person like all of you.

I do not remember the exact date but I can freshly remember the exact feeling. It was a Friday night, I was home alone, sitting on the floor of my bedroom and weeping unconditionally. Feet turned cold, wet cheeks, trembling hands and rapid thoughts crossing my mind leaving me numb on the floor. I heard a voice inside my head, asking me, “What makes you cry?” to which, “I have no clue” was my answer. Soon after that I patted my eyes and pressed them as hard as I could to stop my tears. I wanted to stop crying, but all my efforts went in vain. The worst kind of sadness in the one which cannot be explained!

The worst part of this phase was that I couldn’t do any Root Cause Analysis of the situation. Because everything in my life was running quite smoothly. Good grades, strong friendship, love of my Parents, I had it all. But my beloved friend “depression” made my condition worse day by day. Sleep just wasn’t sleep anymore. It became an escape place for me. It was strange how I could totally be a normal person in the crowd but would end up cold and numb on the floor once I would be home alone.

I wanted to talk about it, I wanted to yell and scream, but all I could do was weep alone and tell myself that one day, everything’s going to be just fine. I remember hugging myself and mumbling “you are not alone”.

Finally, unable to handle it alone, I conveyed about this relationship with beloved depression to my father. I call it my beloved friend, because depression has taught me many life lessons just like a true friend does. I was surprised to know that he had the same experience too. Though he did not end up weeping on the floor like me, but his emotions matched mine. That is when he told me, “beta, we are humans, and we break down sometimes which is completely normal.” I am fortunate to have such an understanding father. He even explained that only physical illness does not require treatment, but assistance is required even when our mind gets sick. He was ready to find a counselor for me too, though it wasn’t required later on. May God bless every child with a father like mine!

He further reminded me that whenever you feel you are in unbearable pain, think about people who are not as fortunate as you. Think about the soldiers in our border, think about their family, which lives in the hope of meeting them soon, either alive, or with their body wrapped up in our Tricolour Flag. Think about them and absorb some strength from their courageous heart!

So from the very next moment, that is what I did. God has a beautiful way of giving you life lessons and the best part is, you don’t have to look so far, because your ‘Glimpses of Hope’ are somewhere around you, waiting for you to notice them.

hope-in-focus
‘Glimpses of Hope’ are somewhere around you

Firstly, I paid a close attention to the Man in my life who managed his family so well, kept his loved ones happy with all the strength in the world even after being physically impaired. No storm could stop him and he would always stand up as the Superhero of his family without the Superman’s cape! He became my first glimpse of hope.

Secondly, I saw the struggle of a girl, who was of my age and I addressed her as my sister, who supported her family and helped her father clear all his debts, by killing her dreams and working for her family instead. She would stand as the ‘Tiger’ of her family whenever required and shield them from all the troubles. She would smile and hug me with inspiration even after going through all the dark times alone. She became my second glimpse of hope.

Thirdly, I envied the strength of my friend who would keep her emotions intact, even after facing all the conspiracies of her own relatives against her family. I envied how firmly she would still trust and inspire people even after her faith had been played and broken by her own blood relations. Instantly she was added to my list of “Hope”.

Fourthly, I aspired to become like a friend of mine, who literally had been through hell and back, struggled through the taunting and discourteous behaviour of the society but still carried a ray of hope in her soul and faith of humanity in her heart. She still chose to express her smile to the world which once made her life miserable. She then became my ‘Glimpse of Hope’.

Lastly, I feel so fortunate to have read a book called “Eat Pray Love”, by Elizabeth Gilbert. This book brought me closer to God. It showed me a path of peace during the darkest tunnels of my life. This book created another Ray of Hope in my heart.

Though I have not written the names of people in the list of my “Glimpses of Hope” expressively in the article but I am pretty sure that they will recognise themselves while reading it. Lastly, I would like to thank all my readers for investing their precious time and reading this piece of writing. I believe that you will look around and find your ‘glimpses of hope’ soon, because the word H.O.P.E. itself says, Hold On Pain Ends!

Happy reading!

LIVING ABOVE DEPRESSIVE SITUATIONS – A CASE STUDY

We had a very serious week discussing on one of the most difficult subjects like depression and how to combat it.  In the mega article I mentioned how combating depression needs to be a lifestyle for a person going through depression. And today in the final note I will present a case study which might bring clarity to what I explained on last Sunday. 

Negative/depressive situations from the beginning

I know a person who was born with a cardiac problem and was operated at 2½ years of age. He had all sorts of restrictions from the very childhood. There were restrictions on his food. There were restrictions on his movements. There were restrictions on his running with friends. There was restriction in playing football, cricket etc. for him. There was restriction on his studies as he had to go out to have normal education. He was brought up in a very conservative and restrictive atmosphere. He was small. So he used to cry and then forget. His heartaches were short lived at that time.

At the age of 7 he was infected with tuberculosis. It was difficult for him to stay with his parents as his dad was working in a place which was unhealthy for him to live on. His grandparents took the responsibility of taking care of him; to take care of the physical part of him but he suffered mentally after departing from his parents. He was only 7 or 8 years old at that time. When the he used to violate the restrictions, he himself had to suffer and also used to invite the stricter restrictions. He was 10 years old yet had not gone to any school as there was a fear in the minds of his parents and other family members that he may not take on the strain of going to school and study. But finally, he was admitted into a school directly in the fourth grade because of his aunt who was a teacher in the same school. He continued his study in the school.

In the school he used to stand alone in the shades when his friends used to play. He had no choice except for standing and clapping for his friends. He could not participate in many things that his friends were involved in. But he did well in his studies. He stood first in the whole school in his tenth grade.

He was 16 years old. He was an adolescent. He was unruly too but his situations didn’t allow him to even freak out like a normal teen. After schooling he joined a college. He used to go to his college by manual rickshaws. It was embarrassing for him to go by a rickshaw when the girls were even riding bicycles or motor bikes to the college. He used to go to the college at least 40 minutes ahead of everybody so that nobody would see how he was coming to the college. He suffered mentally and was depressed as he could not take part in any other curriculum for his health except regular studies. So many times he used to hide in the bathroom and cry. He used to ask God why He created him this way. Why couldn’t He just take his life?

At home alone, he used to day dream and fantasize a lot. He developed an addiction of reading wrong books. He developed a wrong attitude towards his grandparents as well as his aunt when they used to correct him for all wrong doings. He used to miss his mom and dad desperately. He used to think why they didn’t look after him instead of leaving him there with those people.

He finished his bachelor degree and got admitted for the post graduation in a university. There he suffered from mild depression. He was a grown up boy of 23 years old. The mental demands were more but scope for its development was less because of his physical restrictions. He was a loving guy and loved all his friends so much. But in return when he didn’t get the same love he used to feel depressed. He used to spend most of his times in day dreaming and grumbling to God sitting at a place alone.

All his studies finished. There were many opportunities for higher studies and good jobs but he could not go for anything, all because of his health.

He fell for a girl once but was rejected after two months of the relationship. He hasn’t known the reason of rejection till now.

His health deteriorated further in the year 2000-2001, as the passage in his heart which was made during his first surgery was already blocked. He was taken to a renowned hospital. The doctor said they need to do a surgery again – a very complicated surgery.

Finally, his condition improved after the surgery and he came back home. Then he joined an organization far off his home after three months of rest. His mom stayed with him initially. Then she left and went home. He was all alone for the next 2 years. He who himself was so unable to understand and never given any opportunity to understand before when he was younger, had to battle all alone. He felt the loneliness deeply. He wanted a girl in his life. But there was a thought in his mind that which girl is going to marry him, a heart patient. He tried on his own. Even one of his colleagues brought him many proposals which he didn’t like at all. He was disgusted. He stopped searching for anybody.

Battling in depressive situations

All these situations were negative, depressing for him. He was negative about his life but he had a hope always, that one day God will do something for him.

Throughout his life he had go through depression or negative situations but he tried his best to come over them by accepting whatever came in his way. 

He played games alone when loneliness tried to overpower him. He invented new games to amuse himself which at times attracted others too. He involved himself in writing stories and songs when he was downcast and depressed. He kept himself busy in drawing, colouring and painting to combat his loneliness. He kept himself busy reading beautiful novels. He started preparing sermons which he never preached to anybody but to himself. He loved to listen to others when he had ample amount of heartaches hidden deep within himself. He made fun, and was humorous to give others happiness. He learned to enjoy within himself.

New phase of the life with new battles

Finally, the negative situations seem to come to an end when he got married to a caring lady. The new beginning of a new phase of his life was beautiful though there were difficulties to carry on initially as he fell ill terribly. Everybody lost hope. But God saved him again. He was healed miraculously.

Life went on for him. But things were not easy as there were so many restrictions for his sickness which inadvertently became a tyranny for his wife too. At times it was not tolerable for him as he felt responsible for all these problems which pulled his wife down along with him. There seemed to be nothing when he was seen by people but there were so many things that have been pulling him down sometimes. He struggled. He suffered. He was depressed yet tried everything possible to get out of it with God’s strength alongside his wife’s immense care and help. The troubles of his wife which incur day by day all because of him pull him down and make him feel depressed and negative.

But he never put a full stop right there. He used all these experiences to help others when they came to him for help.

Final Revelation

This person was very close to my heart because I share the same body, same mind, and same spirit with him. Yes, instead of all the negative situations that came my way, I learned to live above them. It could happen only when I shifted my concentration from my suffering to the suffering of others, from my problems to the God almighty, from my depression & negative situation to His amazing grace. I am a living proof of God’s  wondrous grace before all.

Combating the daily depression is not easy yet it is not impossible too. The eyes need to be focussed on something greater and higher instead of something lower and of less importance.   It was only God’s grace and my readiness to receive His grace that could change my negative attitudes to positive.

My brother in law always says, “God takes all which is worst in us and makes it best for us.”

Stay blessed!

 

BE SAD, NOT DEPRESSED

Sadness is a normal human emotion. Had there been no moments of sadness in our lives, perhaps we would not have cherished the happy moments that life bestows on us. In fact, psychologists of old have identified ‘sadness’ as one of the six major emotions that human beings across all cultures all over the world experience.

Having said that sadness is normal, I would like to draw a line for it. How sad can we be and how long can we be sad?

Events in our lives that affect us directly or indirectly ought to make us sad. If a girl doesn’t feel sad when her parents don’t permit her to marry the guy she loves, perhaps I would question the genuinity of her love. If a boy doesn’t feel sad after flunking in the exams, perhaps he is too casual about his academics. If a father doesn’t feel sad on losing his child, perhaps he is too thick-skinned a person. All such events in our lives provide reasons for us to be sad.

However, if this sadness penetrates too deep that we are not able to come out of it, if it lingers on for months together thereby affecting our thoughts, words and actions, we are likely to sink into depression.

Let’s not confuse depression with sadness. Sadness is normal, whereas depression is not. Sadness can be overcome after a span of time. Depression is a clinical disorder and requires prayerful psychiatric treatment. 

A remorseless person is a likely to have a robotic personality. Let’s not be remorseless. We need to be sad when the situation so demands. But, let us not allow sadness take such a grip on our lives that we sink into bouts of depression.

CHECK HOW DEEP ARE YOU IN DEPRESSION?

Depression is a common phenomenon. But when it lasts for a longer period of 2 months or more, then it becomes important for us to get counseled by a counselor or check with a doctor. There are many tests available with counselors for depression. I have a very simple questionnaire which may test your depression level though it’s result may not be taken as final results but it’s helpful. The questionnaire is given as under:

Depression Questionnaire

A. Do you do normal activities slower than the normal speed?

  1. Not at all
  2. Very little
  3. Somewhat
  4. Fairly
  5. Quite a lot
  6. Very much

B. Does your future seem hopeless to you?

  1. Not at all
  2. Very little
  3. Somewhat
  4. Fairly
  5. Quite a lot
  6. Very much

C. Do you feel hard to concentrate on reading/studying?

  1. Not at all
  2. Very little
  3. Somewhat
  4. Fairly
  5. Quite a lot
  6. Very much

D. Do you feel that all your joys/happiness have gone out of your life?

  1. Not at all
  2. Very little
  3. Somewhat
  4. Fairly
  5. Quite a lot
  6. Very much

E. Do you have difficulty in making decisions?

  1. Not at all
  2. Very little
  3. Somewhat
  4. Fairly
  5. Quite a lot
  6. Very much

F. Have you lost interest in those aspects of life that used to be important to you?

  1. Not at all
  2. Very little
  3. Somewhat
  4. Fairly
  5. Quite a lot
  6. Very much

G. Do you feel sad, blue, and unhappy almost every time?

  1. Not at all
  2. Very little
  3. Somewhat
  4. Fairly
  5. Quite a lot
  6. Very much

H. Do you get agitated and angered easily?

  1. Not at all
  2. Very little
  3. Somewhat
  4. Fairly
  5. Quite a lot
  6. Very much

I. Do you feel fatigued and tired often?

  1. Not at all
  2. Very little
  3. Somewhat
  4. Fairly
  5. Quite a lot
  6. Very much

J. Do you feel anxious and hyper-active to do simple things in life?

  1. Not at all
  2. Very little
  3. Somewhat
  4. Fairly
  5. Quite a lot
  6. Very much

K. Do you feel guilty?

  1. Not at all
  2. Very little
  3. Somewhat
  4. Fairly
  5. Quite a lot
  6. Very much

L. Do you feel like a failure?

  1. Not at all
  2. Very little
  3. Somewhat
  4. Fairly
  5. Quite a lot
  6. Very much

M. Do you feel suicidal?

  1. Not at all
  2. Very little
  3. Somewhat
  4. Fairly
  5. Quite a lot
  6. Very much

N. Do you have problem in sleeping at night?

  1. Not at all
  2. Very little
  3. Somewhat
  4. Fairly
  5. Quite a lot
  6. Very much

O. Do you feel disinterested or unenthusiastic at times?

  1. Not at all
  2. Very little
  3. Somewhat
  4. Fairly
  5. Quite a lot
  6. Very much

After encircling each correct and honest answers, calculate the bullet points of your encircled answers which are given on the left hand side of each options.

Interpretations of points total can be one of the followings:

Score between 15 – 30:  Allowable Depression

Score between 30 – 45:  Minor Depression

Score between 45-Above:  Major Depression

These interpretations are needed to be qualified with the time span and causes of depression, which are very important.

Stay Blessed!

BEWARE OF THE EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION

Depression is deadly when it is not treated in time. In India the people are either not aware of these few mental ailments or don’t take them seriously enough. Either they overlook it or treat it with absurdity. As far as my knowledge is concerned there will be many children, teens and women who will be going through severe depression without being given proper attention in our country.

As I was studying on the issue of depression I found some astounding facts on a very helpful site. I thought I will share them with you all.  ‘HEALTHLINE.COM,’ explains the effects of clinical depression which are really scary as I read through.  They are as follows:  

  1. Overwhelming Sadness
  2. Cognitive Changes
  3. Emptiness or Hopelessness
  4. Preoccupation with Death
  5. Clinginess
  6. Aches and Pains
  7. Weight Problems
  8. Poor Appetite
  9. Constricted Blood Vessels
  10. Weakened Immune System
  11. Heart Attack Outcome

I don’t want to explain them much. If you visit the site given above you will find the details about it.

Friends! Please do not neglect when you feel depressed or somebody you find suffering depression.

DEPRESSION IN CHILDREN

I was faced by a persistent depression and there have been times when I was really struggling to be happy and content with my life. One of those times was when I was a kid. As a kid, I was a very shy and subtle girl. I was easily bullied by other kids and as a result of that I kept losing my self-confidence and it also affected my self-esteem. But even as a kid, I figured out some of my strengths that really kept my spirits high. I kept working on those strengths all throughout college and later in professional life. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. It was a constant struggle to not fall back to that “low-confidence me”.

Depression affects kids in a very different way than it affects an adult. Adults have an understanding of their own feelings, kids struggle to put their feelings in words. In my case, I never wanted to go out and play with other kids, I would not make any efforts to make friends with somebody, I would never want to share anything with anybody (food or toys or likewise). I was constantly scared that I would be made fun of. Anything that I wanted to say had to be repeated a hundred times in my head to ensure I am not bullied because of something that I say. All this was happening at its maximum when I was between 6 to 13 years of age. Somehow things changed when I entered my teens and life began to look better. I remember even having suicidal thoughts when I was about 10 years or so. There was a constant feeling “nobody needs me”.

I never shared any of this with my parents because I felt that they would never understand. Keep an eye out for your child. It is important to keep the communication channels very open. Observe for little changes in his/her behavior. Don’t just take things for granted, question “Why is your child behaving the way she/he is”. Most importantly, don’t label your child as extrovert, introvert, naughty, outspoken etc. When you label your child, you tend to look at your child in the light of the label and you would stop questioning the behavior of your child. Your child needs you the most during the difficult times like these. Stop everything else in your life to just ensure that your child is not under this demon named “depression”.

IT SLOWLY DRIFTS AWAY LIKE LEAVES ON A BREEZE

We all have dealt with depression at one point or another. For many it is a temporary issue but for others it is a lifetime of pain and sadness.

The way I have fought off depression is by helping others and immersing myself into one of my favorite things to do…reading and recently…writing. Writing for this blog has helped me deal with some real life issues and helped me put things in perspective. 

When writing or reading is not readily available, such as when I am at work, I will talk with my co workers. Each of them is going through a rough time in their lives for various reasons and many times I can see that they are depressed or sad. As soon as we get the chance, I will go up to that person, touch them gently on the shoulder or arm and ask them what is wrong. Being at work doesn’t give us much time to talk in depth but they always seem to feel better once we have spoken.

Now I am not one who has to deal with depression daily. I have bouts but as soon as I focus my attention on something or someone else it slowly drifts away like leaves on a breeze.

When you feel that sadness begin to creep in and you recognize it for what it is, acknowledge it but don’t let it consume you. Call a friend or go for a walk, work on something you love doing and yes, pray for the strength needed to get through that moment

Author’s Bio: N.Gonzalez lives in the USA, married for 27 years with two grown children. Have been working for retail grocery for last 17 years. Writing is something enjoyed in free time.