Listening to yet another friend saying “I'm depressed”, I wonder if we've overdone the whole psychology thing. I mean, on one side we have the strict Indian parents who call it “unnecessary drama.” And on the other side we have the newbies – people who've had access to all the information in the world on Google, which Facebook news feed always brings up videos and articles on depression and how its symptoms are ignored until it's too late, who read stories on wattpad about the depressed and lonely girl catching the eye of the most popular guy in school and all that … Have we somehow glorified depression?
Asolescents, we all have mood swings. A sweet text from a random stranger can feel like the top of Mt. Everest while mom asking us to clean our room can make us feel like we're being forced to jump off Mt. Everest. Nothing new in it. This has happened with every teenager over the years, though the battleground may be different in each generation. We want our parents to be good listeners and then we feel they're introducing our personal space if they ask how our day has been. To some of us, our peers seem to be the only ones who 'understand us', while to others peers are the thorns that must be avoided on a daily basis. We want love but we do not understand what love really is. We want freedom but we do not know what we really need to be free from. But as we grow up, we usually come to realize that although none of the people around us were perfect, they loved us and meant well for us. That's how it's been till now.
But suddenly, out of the blue, we had Google flinging phrases like 'depression, neurosis, Insomnia, anxiety disorder, panic attacks, etc' at us. And we were like “Oh my Gawd, that's something new.” Soon we had scholarly articles on depression and anxiety jumping at us out of our mobile screens. Every story would have a depressed person, usually a girl who cuts her wrists and a guy who finds that beautiful somehow and selflessly, altruistically draws her out of that dark hole. And we loved it. We loved the fact that we had someone to blame for our mistakes.
Of course, I do not mean to say that depression is not real. It is very, very real and due to the rising pressure on children these days, it is becoming more spacious which is probably why it has begun gathering so much attention. But when fifteen year olds start behaving like the world has ended when their phones are confiscated, or when seventeen year olds drink to “drown their problems” ie Dad asking them what they are going to do in life if they do not study, or when children commit suicide for not being allowed to watch some TV serial (one such incident happened in India in the year 2013) … you know something is going wrong.
These days we have more books and articles and TV shows and seminaries on how to be good parents and not much is being said about being good children. Somehow, we have understood this as our license to live the way we want, act irresponsibly, let all our God given abilities go to the devil and still expect our elders to smile and stay silent. We want our parents to be perfect; we want people to accept us even if we act like bratty, moody, sulky little monkeys. We have learned that it is always their fault that we are miserable, that it's because of the way they treat us that we are 'depressed'.
And I know what I'm talking about. At the risk of sounding like an old hermit, let me say that I have been through this. I never smoked at people or made an effort to talk to them and expected them to love me and reach out to me. I thought that my parents are torturing me just because they expected me to study. Just study, nothing more. Nobody forced me to do anything I'm not capable of. Nobody left me in isolation willingly. What people said to me or did to me was just a reaction. The reason I was miserable was because I was not doing anything about the calling God placed on me. (And believe me, everyone has a calling). But I tried to make everyone around me miserable because I in my mind, was the damsel in distress while everyone else was an ogre.
And now, I see the same thing in most teenagers I meet. We do not want to live responsibly, act compassionately, or talk encouragingly. But we want all of that from others. We do not see how everything is just a reaction to our actions. So when we do not get what we want, what do we do? Throw the adolescent version of a temper tantrum – go into 'depression'
Do not be fooled, my friends. Do not be fooled into thinking that depression is 'cool' or 'beautiful' or whatever. Do not think that saying “Nobody loves me” is the new fad. Depression is a devil inside your head all the time. And most of us can not even begin to comprehend how that feels. Do not use depression as a sword against people who love you just because they do not always act the way you want.
So instead of trying to make everyone around us perfect, why do not we focus on being better people, better students, better children, better friends, and better humans? It's OK to make mistakes. That's how we grow. We do hurt people. That's being human. But never palm off the responsibility of your mistake onto somebody else. Ask for forgiveness from God and men and move on. Try again. Do the best you can do, be the best you can be. Find your calling and owe your life to it. Then you will find peace and grace flowing into your life and joy flooding your heart.