A month ago, I gave my first talk at the International SOS Clinic in Beijing. There were less than 10 people in the boardroom, but to me, it did not matter how many people attended. As my husband, Timmie, and my friend, Richard, reminded me, all it took was to touch just one person that day, and to speak from within.
My psychologist started the session with medical knowledge on managing stress at work, mental health and depression. Then the hour passed on to me to share my experience in depression, what I did about it, the causes, and my reflections.
I sat on a high stool at the front, and recounted the dark days of emotional pit bottom.
I was surprised that the audience wanted to know more about how it felt and what I was thinking during the worst periods of depression. It struck me that most people do not know the extent depression and anxiety could cause damage to a person’s daily lives. For one part, we, who have experience with clinical depression, do not readily speak out about the condition. Indeed, not many would be receptive to hearing about hopelessness and anguish. So I would not blame those around us who do not understand for not understanding – in some ways it is also my responsibility to express my feelings as much as their responsibilities in laying down prejudices and understanding that clinical depression is beyond miserly self-victimization.
Most people have felt depressed at some point in their lives, but clinical depression is quite another thing – it involves a consistent period of at least two weeks with 5 or more of the symptoms known to be evidence of depression. Moreover, it is not a state that one can heal in a week with a simple dose of antibiotics as a common cold. The process is long and tedious, and often, friends and family get tired of hearing our plight after a year or two.
I shared my upbringing, my work experience, my previous outlooks on life, and how depression is making me stronger, propelling change, and a force of inner strength and awareness for me. We opened up the discussion after my sharing for about 30 minutes. It was a little awkward for a minute or so, and eventually the attendees started talking.
Out tumble their worries, their challenges, their thoughts, and their fears. A few more reticent than others, but everybody seem to have had some experience with depression, anxiety, and life balance.
Sometimes I feel at a loss, for readers and attendees all want to know how to get out of depression. The surface answer is easy to gloss over: anti-depressants, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, cognitive behaviour therapy… the Internet has no shortage of advice.
Yet, I find that the real “how” is not a set formula. No one will get out of depression in an identical way. Each one has their history, mentalities, constitution, and nature. Each one has their stories, struggles and support groups (or poisonous friends). So each one must deal with their depression in a different way.
What is paramount, is that we help ourselves, is that we want to get better, is that we know we can get better despite the relapses, the convoluted path, and the protracted time it would take. We are the key to changing our mindset, our heart, our mentalities and our thoughts.
After a full two hours, we had to end the talk. One man stayed behind to talk to me. He was the most opened about his experience and admitted he was seeing a psychologist at the moment to figure out his life and the challenges before him. We chatted a bit more and tears rimmed his eyes. I nearly cried too, for I empathize the pain and inner struggle.
So I would say my first talk went down well, and the feedback from the surveys were excellent. Since then I have done another one with a group of entrepreneurs at their training sessions.
I am proud of myself for this little step forward. I am proud of myself for touching if just one person that day.
What are you proud of yourself for today? How are you dealing with your depression?