The Importance of Being Earnest

   
 Not only was it a play for the ages that is still enjoyed by many with a sense of humor, but the importance of being earnest is especially key when loving one with any kind of ailment. What do I mean by being earnest? Well, it boggles down to this: being serious and sincere compared to whimsical and playful, though that frame of mind has its moments as well. We can’t be serious all of the time!

What I’m trying to say is that it’s much easier for people to take things lightly without realizing they are dismissing something that shouldn’t really be dismissed – an ailment that should be addressed, that needs to be brought into the light, examined, and hopefully treated somehow.

Take depression, for instance. It’s often brushed off as a “funk” of some sort that will pass with a magical amount of time. We all know that sometimes everyone gets down, but depression doesn’t exactly flitter away. It’s a clinical disorder that needs to be treated. 

Okay, so let’s look at another common ailment: cancer. Everyone has had the experience of feeling invincible in their youth but that doesn’t last unfortunately. 

Life has its curve balls to throw at us and more common than not we try to make light of the situation when it comes to health problems. How many programs are there in the medical field in cancer prevention? And yet, when we are faced with the possibility of having cancer, most of us go into denial, thinking it can’t happen to us. No way! Well, yes way – it can! And if we don’t have that faithful friend to snap us out of our denial, it’s much more likely that the ailment can take us over and claim our life. This is a very scary truth! It has happened to people, even people I knew and loved.

So the next time you encounter a situation with a friend or loved one concerning their health, consider the importance of being earnest with them because, after all, you are concerned for them as you care for them either as a friend or a family member. You might be the key to them taking the first step to a better and healthier life.

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is not a myth or an imaginary ailment. It actually affects more people than you think. It’s a combination of physiological responses in our body (anxious sensations) and a psychological component (anxious thoughts and behaviors) that happen or take place as we face certain social situations.

If you are interested in learning more about what social anxiety is, feel free to Google it or go to: http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/disorder/#what. I’m going to focus more on what goes through one’s head during a social situation if you experience social anxiety and how to help someone who experiences it.

Imagine you are in front of an audience of strangers preparing to give a speech. You have practiced what you are going to say or at least you have prepared an outline of important points, maybe inserted some jokes here and there, but you have rehearsed it a few times at least in your head if not out loud in front of a mirror. Now imagine doing that for the simplest of conversations – either with a friend or a stranger. In a nutshell, that’s what it’s like to have social anxiety. All of the nervous energy, the blushing, the sweaty palms perhaps, dry mouth, shortness of breath – it all applies to even the most common of social interactions. Sometimes it’s not as bad with people you know, and it’s more intense with strangers. But it can happen in any social situation and the negative thoughts that play into the situation – “I look foolish,” “they are not going to want to talk to me again,” etc. – all hinder us from being ourselves in a social situation.

It’s not so much as we can’t express ourselves freely, but it’s a sort of nervousness that takes over as we find ourselves surrounded by a large group of people perhaps, or even a single person we do not know so well. We have to find a way to break through that nervousness, those negative thoughts, the physiological responses that our body goes through, as we face these situations head on. For some, that means medication as a form of treatment, for others it takes a getting used to, a getting comfortable with being in an uncomfortable state. But all in all, it shouldn’t hinder us from participating in social situations and events that are at times essential to our human existence. We should be there for important events in our family’s life, for our friends, for loved ones as we do care about them just as much as anyone else does if not more.

In any case, social anxiety is a real problem that several people face on a daily basis, and there are things you can do to help. If you notice that someone retreats from social interaction or does not like being the center of attention, do not force them to interact against their will. This does not help in any way. If anything, this could make their symptoms worse. Let them approach the situation if and when they are ready. They will eventually come around. Try not to put them on the spot when they are interacting. Just be patient with them as they speak. Try to remember that they are undergoing these symptoms (physiological and psychological – dry mouth to negative thoughts) as they speak with you. Sometimes you will notice a tick or some kind of impediment. Just be respectful in trying not to draw attention to it. You want them to feel as comfortable as possible under the circumstances. Eventually, the tick will disappear as they become more comfortable speaking with you.

Try to seek out conversation topics that interest them and watch them bloom into social creatures even just for a moment perhaps. Encourage this type of interaction, and it will help them grow greatly for humans innately crave social interaction. It’s in our genetic makeup. And anyone who experiences social anxiety has this internal conflict to deal with as well. Here we have a deeper need and notion to interact, and then thoughts and sensations that negate this need when faced with an interaction. So be kind and take care in your interactions with others whether they appear to be nervous or not, for you can only imagine what is going through their mind or their body while they are conversing with you.

Depression – Do’s and Don’ts for Loved Ones

This is not going to be your usual brief overview of clinical depression. Instead, here’s a blog post from an individual who deals with depression on a daily basis and with her loved ones who really needed some guidance as to what it feels like to be depressed.

1. Please understand that being depressed is not a choice that can go away with our choosing. It’s a feeling, yes, and even an illness that comes in waves of intensity for some people and lingers in a mild form for others, but in no way do we choose to feel depressed! Trust me on this one. 

Please refrain from remarks that treat it like a phase of some sort that can be shaken off. These remarks not only make us feel worse, but they also don’t provide much help to us. Instead, give us some space or at least respect the truth of the matter – that we are feeling depressed. Ask us what you can do to help. Maybe we can talk and figure something out, or we’ll ask to be alone for a bit as we work through it ourselves.

2. We don’t necessarily need or want your intervention all of the time. We understand you mean well and you want to be of help to get us out of a “funk” as you may perceive it to be. However, sometimes we just need to feel what we feel. In that case, just be supportive by granting us that space. 

Sometimes it does help for us to talk things through with you and it’s always healthy to share what we feel, but we don’t necessarily want to do this every time our symptoms intensify.

3. Depression doesn’t always have a clear and identifiable cause. So don’t expect us to be able to explain why we are depressed all of the time. Oftentimes, we don’t even know the “why” of what we feel – just the “how.” 

Instead of asking why, remind us of everything positive about us and our life. Encourage us not to dwell on the negative. Be loving and supportive by taking your time with us, not dismissing us as ill or a Debby-Downer. Remind us that we are loved no matter what and be there – present – with us when we need you.

4. Depression is not a life sentence – it’s a condition that sometimes worsens and other times lingers. It can be treated and should be treated with proper medical attention and often with medication. Above all else, someone struggling with depression should be treated with respect. 

If you feel stuck and/or hopeless, have trouble sleeping, or you feel like you have nothing going for you, I encourage you to at least talk your doctor or someone you know and trust. Sometimes it takes a healthy push or a hand to hold to take that brave first step toward a healthier life. But you can do it, and let me tell you, it gets a lot better! You need not suffer alone.