By Nicole Quigley – Collegiate Staff
It seems like a lot of young people go through a period where they feel depressed. They feel pessimistic, sad, destroyed and low. It is almost like they feel somewhat empty and that feeling of emptiness just does not go away. It’s like there’s this feeling that something is missing or there’s a void in their life that just never disappears. And, guilty as charged, I have most definitely experienced this, too. I never imagined that I would feel like this. Never would I have thought that I would go through moments of being extremely happy and then extremely sad for absolutely no reason, but here I am.
For a while now it has been really hard to understand why I feel extreme highs and extreme lows. I look at my life, and nothing significant has happened to make me have these emotions. I go to college, have a job, have a supportive family who would do anything for me, and the few friends that I do have, love me very much. Therefore, I really can’t say I am depressed, right? Well, I have felt like I am at some points in my life. And it was a very confusing emotion for me to accept. This feeling gave me the impression that I wasn’t good enough. Sometimes I felt like I couldn’t accomplish anything, and that I was not good enough to achieve any of my goals. And the most confusing part to me was what had caused me to feel like this. However, now I am learning to deal with it and I am learning to realize that this is all okay.
The biggest thing that I have learned was, you DO NOT have to go through anything significant or a horrific event in order to feel this way. Yes, horrible things can certainly make you feel that way, but it can also be something as little as not feeling accepted, being insecure with who you are or being scared for what the future holds. And for me, these are all the reasons I felt this way. Despite that, I have come to one realization: I am not depressed. I do have anxiety, I do have mood swings, and I do have feelings of emptiness/ sadness sometimes, but I am not depressed. I may have experienced feelings of depression, which is perfectly normal for someone my age that is going through major life changes constantly.
But I cannot let that phase me and I cannot keep talking myself into being depressed when in reality, I am just confused.
I used to let these emotions control me. I would let them dictate what my plans would be for the day, or how I would do in school. If I wasn’t feeling good enough that week, I wouldn’t try in school or I would skip the gym. If I was feeling great about myself I would write in my journal, read my Bible and study all the time. This made me realize that feelings of depression can make us lose sight of our original goals.
Grand Rapids Community College Psychology Department Head Frank Conner said that depression, anxiety, and feeling “empty” all can be related to a theory called “Responsible Hedonism.” Responsible Hedonism is a theory developed by a man named Walter Ellis, and it explains a more proper way of dealing with behavior and mental health for yourself.
“Responsible Hedonism is when you have to do for you first, you are the most important person in your life, and you cannot expect others to think of you before you think of yourself,” Conner said.
He explained that it is okay to be selfish, but to a certain point. Once you become too selfish, you lose sight of your goals. However, if you think of yourself and than care for others, you will become more fundamental.
“Balance is the hardest thing in life,” Conner said. “Becoming functional and evaluating where you are at your best self is when you are going to start seeing your life go towards the direction you want.”
Responsible Hedonism can help us become healthier mentally and feel better about ourselves. If we learn to put ourselves first to figure out who we are so we can, in turn, love ourselves, then we won’t feel so upset with who we are. Learning about who we are before we learn about others is not selfish, but necessary to create good, healthy relationships.
Feelings of sadness and unhappiness can make us drop everything we care about because suddenly, we feel like we aren’t cared about. But, in reality, if you care about yourself, and do everything to make you the best version of yourself, all of the hate, grief, or misery you are feeling will disappear. Once you stop trying so hard to t in, you will find out that the people who really love you will still be there, waiting for you to figure yourself out. And those people who are there for you when you can’t even begin to understand who you are, are the people you need to keep close to you.
Below, I have developed a list of my five top ways to help alleviate anxiety, and help people work through these emotions.
1. Take one hour everyday to do something that you truly enjoy. Whether that is reading, writing, running, painting, do it. You won’t regret it.
2. Try developing one healthy habit you do not already do Exercise, eat vegetables, give up chips, get more sleep, etc.
3. Get o your phone, social media and other apps and electronics an hour before bed to truly fall into deep REM sleep.
4. Talk to someone about your emotions. Journal it, see a counselor on campus or talk to a friend.
5. Make an agenda everyday to follow. When we have a set schedule, we end up reaching goals, getting more done, and have less time to allow our mind to wander.
Spring Lake High School has recently created a project that is promoting self-love. #thechalkboardproject is a hashtag that students of the school have created and it is currently trending on Instagram. What these students are doing is taking a picture holding a chalkboard with a word written on it that usually would be considered “unkind” that they have learned to embrace. Many students will write words such as: fat, skinny, slut, dumb, etc. I have been called many names in my lifetime thus far but have learned to embrace them and use them as a strength.
On my chalkboard I wrote “too emotional.” Many times in my life I was told that I have too many emotions, cry too much, think too much and care way too much. However, I have learned that this just means I am a compassionate person and it means that I really care about the people in my life. I will forever embrace being “too emotional.”