Sometimes, one of the best ways to cheer yourself up is to make someone else happy. When another human being thrives, it becomes contagious. Even watching my garden grow or my pets flourish puts me at ease. For all our flaws and moral shortcomings, our species is still an inherently nurturing and social one. It’s very difficult to prosper in a negative social or physical environment. It’s been universally observed for centuries that happiness is strongest when it is shared.
Note, I’m not depressed right now, but it’s something I’ve experienced and observed time and again.
When you’re betrayed, dumped by a partner, or otherwise emotionally hurt by another human being, it apparently activates the same areas of the brain that are triggered by physical pain. Indeed, notice the use of physical words like “hurt” or “heartbroken” to describe these circumstances — that implies a certain intuition on the matter.
Conversely, when someone says or does something nice to you — especially when it involves physical touch like hugs or kisses — it triggers hormones that promote happiness, trust, and optimism.
Thus, the relationship between mental well-being and overall physical health is deeper than we realize, and should not be seen as entirely distinct (especially since the former is often seen as less important or “real” than the latter).
I have often been accused of self-indulgence, namely of acting like a know-it-all and being arrogant about my intelligence. And in many cases, those criticisms are valid. I try to be modest and reserved for the most part, but I know I can try too hard to be the smart one in any given clique (not to mention online, especially Facebook).
What most people don’t know is that I only act that way to shore up my self-esteem. My mind is all I have. I’m not good looking, fit, or particularly talented. Indeed, at best, I’d be lucky to be baseline competent at even the most basic tasks. And when you wrap mediocre package up with anxiety, OCD, and depression, you can see I don’t have much going for me.
And honestly, that’s okay, because I’ve come to terms with these things for the most part. But that’s why I try to harness my intelligence. Reading, retaining information, and writing are all I’m good at, and even then, I frankly don’t think I’m exceptionally intelligent (and no, I’m not saying that to fish for compliments to the contrary).
In a weird way, I wish some people knew my true motives and realized I’m not trying to act better than them. Indeed, it’s because I think I’m not better than most people that I act this way. But it’s best I keep such realities a secret. People seem to prefer an arrogant smart alec to a depressed person.
For the record, I’m not really sad or anything right now. I’m just reflecting.
It’s been said that depression is the inability to construct a future. If you see hope and potential, then hold on to it, because it’s a good sign that there may be a chance at happiness and fulfillment. Don’t give up. Follow even the tiniest spark. A lot of lives have been saved that way. Best of luck.
Though I am not a self-harmer, I am glad to see that this observance was created, and that more and more people seem to be aware of it. Like every mental health issue, this is one that needs more acceptance, understanding, and attention. Nothing makes psychological struggles like this more difficult than having to suffer alone and under constant stigma or oppression.
I’ll keep my message short: if anyone ever needs to talk to me about this or any other topic — even a mere rant — my ask and submission boxes are always open. I’ve had many friends go through this, and I’ve spent years trying to help them through it. I’m no expert of course (though I’ve thought about becoming one some day), but I am someone who will care about you and listen to what you have to say, and I’ll do my best to be there.
With that said, best wishes to all of you fighting through this difficult ordeal. You’re not alone, and there are many of us out there who care about you and believe in you.