August 9, 2020 § Leave a comment

I keep meaning to review a book here, called Lost Connections, by Johann Hari. The author himself struggled for a significant part of his adult life with depression, was on meds for many years, and then eventually went in search of the root causes of depression. His findings made sense to me. I will find time to read his book again and write a proper review soon, but as I remember it, Hari found five different ways in which we are increasingly disconnected, which causes depression.

More recently, for whatever reason, whether because I’ve been tapering off my meds or because I’ve been doing small incremental things like creating my own workspace or because of a combination of it all, some of my interest in connecting with people has returned. This, by the way is one of the disconnects Hari talks about in his book — the disconnection with people, if I  remember right.

So this is a lesson I’ve learnt for myself now. One of the reasons for my depression is the lifelong disconnect I’ve had with people — even though there were always friends in school and college and at work. I had walled myself off of them. It is only now that, in many ways, that I’m opening up to my wife of 20 years even. Getting back to my therapist, on the phone this time, also seems to be making a difference.

So today, for example, on a walk with a close friend — a Saturday ritual, when we visit him and his family every weekend — our conversation was largely about his work, which he is very passionate about: currently one important project of his is about helping manual scavengers in our city and the villages around it. This conversation was a first-time departure from the usual talk of my anxiety and my depression and everything that I’d been going through.

So my interest in connecting meaningfully with people is returning with a difference as well — with a genuine interest in them. My anxiety remains, but I’m able to push through its hase and connect with people. That may hold the key to getting better in the long run. Meaning, the anxiety might stay, but I might find ways to cope much better with it.

I still can’t read the daily news, filled with so much doom and gloom and death and hurt. But on a personal level, I’ve now an intense interest in knowing what my friends are up to, and if they are doing alright. This is how normal, mentally healthy human beings are, right? For me it’s a new experience. Some I WhatsApp, others I call. I would prefer to call even those whom I message, but I know that they can be busy and it might not always be convenient to talk to me when I call.

Today a friend sent me three videos to watch, featuring someone like a life coach called Nina Camille. My friend said the advice of this coach really helped her during a bad phase. I listened to all three videos and some of it made sense — basically about treating oneself gently and progressing to a healthier lifestyle, and inculcating practices that raised self-love first, so that we could then share with others.

Perhaps that’s critical. To really connect with others, we need to first know ourselves, and be happy with ourselves. Isn’t that what depression is all about — being unhappy with oneself to varying degrees. Anyway, according to this coach, there are things we can do everyday to be happy even when there are circumstances that we don’t have control over that are sadness inducing.

#anxiety #depression #happiness #pursuitofhappiness #friends #connectedness #connections

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