The most daunting and heartbreaking news we’ve heard all week was the passing of someone rather close to our hearts—the brilliant Robin Williams. He was a friend to all of us, pulling our legs once in a while and sharing light humor that kept us laughing for days.
It is painful to let go of the man who took on a variety of roles that inevitably changed us all. But what makes Robin Williams’ loss even more difficult to accept is the real culprit behind it—depression.
What really is depression? At present, the word “depressed” can be applied to both people who are a bit miserable and those with a genuinely debilitating mood disorder.
Clinical depression, as in Robin Williams’ case, is a whole different story, with a whole different way of treating it. On its flipside is the feeling we get when life throws us curveballs that we’re hardly prepared for. These days, a lot of us are used to heaving a sigh, dropping our heads and saying mid-breath, “I’m so depressed.”
As clichéd as it may sound, life has its ups and downs. Sometimes, there seems to be more downs than ups, making it a more heart-dropping roller coaster ride. Everyone’s existence is full of challenges, disappointments, frustration and failed expectations. People say that in order to deal with these, all we have to do is think positive.
Yet, no matter how many times we play it in our heads like a broken record, that simply isn’t possible. Hence, we find ourselves facing temporary or long-term sadness, and dealing with life the way good ol’ Eeyore does. More often than not, our weapon of choice is to passively swallow sadness and bury it in our darkest cellars.
Dealing with sadness
In psychology, our affect, commonly known as emotions, our behavior and our cognition all go hand in hand. But unlike affect, our behavior and our cognition are within our control. Thus, regardless of how we are feeling deep inside, fooling people—ourselves included—into thinking that we are perfectly okay is a piece of cake. We have always been great pretenders, because building a good façade is better than dealing with what really is in front of us.
But that’s the thing about sadness. The first step to leaving it behind is acceptance. Being realistic means that you drop the main defense that all of us are tempted to employ: denial. Accept the feeling and indulge it. Then, identify what is getting you down and topple it over.
Knowing that everyone goes through sadness once in a while, 2bU asked a few people what they do when they are feeling down, and how they try to get over it. With these little tricks, maybe you could find a way to deal with your own sadness, and pick one that would work for you. You never know when life will kick you in the gut again. So, it’s always best to be prepared.
I watch a feel-good movie whenever I’m sad. A comedy movie is perfect!—Carl
I treat myself to sweets when I’m feeling sad. That always brightens my day.—Mike
When I’m sad, I call a close friend—someone who would willingly listen to me rant all day. Sometimes, all I need is someone who would listen.—Mich
I go outside and take a breath of fresh air when I’m sad. It gives me time to think and recharge.—Jen
I eat my favorite food when I’m sad. I savor every bite of it, and that makes me really happy.—Tricia
When I’m feeling my worst, I search for positive quotes and articles. Although they may be cheesy, they actually work.—Paolo
I do something spontaneous and out-of-the-blue whenever I feel down, like an out-of-town trip, a museum visit or a date with my mom.—Louie
I cry. I admit that I’m a crier. But once I’ve let my feelings out, everything goes into perspective.—Ariel
I write out my sadness. I feel so much better afterwards. I sometimes even make a list of what makes me happy.—Marie
When I’m feeling sad, I go to my parents. Honestly, they seem to know just how to fix everything.—Nicole
Though these tricks may work for some people, they surely don’t work for everyone. Search for your own spin, then do it every time. The most important thing is that you do not allow yourself to drown in your sadness. Work through it and find your way to the surface. Remember this: Accept the things you can’t change, and do something about those you can.
Apart from making us laugh throughout his life, Robin Williams was a master philosopher with his own profound depth. So, as Mrs. Doubtfire or Genie or whoever you love him as once said: “You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to.”