Every year, we move ahead into the unknown. With New Year's resolution and lots of hope for a brighter future. We make promises to ourselves and to others, to be better versions of ourselves. We try to let go of the mistakes of the past, with a sense of renewal and opportunities for the future. This is what makes a New Year special, we get to look forward to endless possibilities.
The year 2020 was long-awaited, it carried a sense of entering the future we had been imagining since childhood. As we approached the end of 2019, things began developing in a negative direction. The worst was yet to follow. 2020 began with the most devastating pandemic since the Spanish flu, which affected the world a century ago. And just like many times before, another year ended, albeit very differently. After experiencing a pandemic of this extent, we welcome the approaching year with more meaning and hope. But what does it mean to have hope, when we have been collectively becoming more hopeless as a society?
We are living in the age of over-information, where things are designed to make us addicted and anxious. The overall level of depression and anxiety has been at an all-time high, and it’s only getting worse. We often believe that mental health is a mysterious phenomenon that sparks at random in a sick mind. This overlooks the fact that depression and anxiety are mainly physiological and political phenomena.
Look around and you realize that most of the people are having a hard time. Almost everyone comes home from a hard day, and almost all of them believe that their problems are uniquely awful. But we are also told to believe that many others have issues that are much worse and it’s easy to snap out of these mundane problems if only we were not this frail or perhaps lazy. Ignoring those early signs that could eventually lead to depression and anxiety, we continue to push through. That’s what we need to do. But we have been taught unhealthy ways to deal with it. We continue to push through with all our unhealthy ways and then one day out of the blue, we begin to wonder the mysteries of the sudden occurrence of mental health issues.
One symptom of depression is that it shortens your perspective. Most people with depression often report that they cannot imagine the future. It’s not about the inability to imagine something good ever happening again, but they just can’t imagine a future at all.
In his pioneering studies investigating the impact of prolonged trauma, psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk presented the widely known Rorschach inkblots test on his patients. He observed that people that were not traumatized could see random patterns, good and bad, flowers, monsters, murders. But what were those traumatized people seeing?
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