By Veronica U.-K.

For my 50th post, I wanted to do something different. I want to discuss something that is very prevalent in my generation–an area that despite the great amount of publicity it receives is still overlooked and misunderstood.

It is often believed that when a person is sad, they are deeply depressed. Despair, depression, grief…these are all the same things right?

While working on my novel, one of the characters experiences a great period of loneliness–isolation. In thinking of how to present her, I couldn’t help but wonder how to allow her sadness progress, without becoming stagnant. Then it occurred to me that sadness and depression are two different experiences.

Sadness is when emotions are let out. You cry. You scream. You truly grieve, but then you move on. Sadness is an experience of incredible emotion.

Depression is when you are immobile, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Your brain refuses to deal with the real problem and you just shut down. You simply can’t feel anything. So you eat, drink, make other people’s problems your own, watch marathons on Netflix (without actually watching)–anything that allows you to detach from the reality that you are ignoring.You don’t truly experience emotion.

The truth is this roadblock isn’t something any amount of therapy or meds can get you out of. It is a hole you have to pull yourself out of. When you recognize the reality of the life you are living, you will find all the walls are actually stairs. You just couldn’t see them before, because you focused on their sharp corners you kept hitting your head on.

But when you do pull yourself out, you will realize three things:

– “Going back” is not an option. Nothing exists the way it did before.

– Comparing yourself to others will not change the reality of the situation.

– Regardless of how much pain and loneliness are experienced, it will never go away if  they are not acknowledge and allowed to be processed the way they need to be. Just like a package from UPS, without correct processing they’ll never get to the little corner of the street, where they live. Instead they will be spread all around the neighborhood.

So what comes next? Several things must happen:

-Give yourself a lot of extra attention. Not the way you have before, with self-pity. But with self-love.

-Take care of yourself. Avoid anything that will make you unconsciously detach–alcohol, unnecessary drugs etc. You need to feel emotion. When you let it all back in, it’ll hurt, but then you can love.

-Do NOT make any major decisions like moving, changing jobs, ending/starting relationships. Your judgement could be foggy when you are processing these emotions, so go slow and stay focused on the you you have, in front of you.

-Write. Journaling can help you move forward, as well as what is going right, in your life.

-Talk to someone you don’t have a close connection to. Though it is important to share your feelings with people who care about you, speaking with someone who can be objective will definitely provide you with clarity. A mentor, a health coach, a therapist are all great options.  Just let everyone know you need some “you” time and that should be respected and honored. When you’re ready, you’ll share with them.

Don’t be afraid to feel. Your body–your heart will be lighter; your head will be stronger.