What’s wrong with me? When his coworkers found out about Mark’s promotion — something he hadn’t even applied for — they slapped his back, shook his hand, and gave him high fives. Mark couldn’t figure out why he didn’t feel that happy. When told about the new job, he’d agreed out of shock. Now he smiled back and said thanks to the congratulations, but inside he was in turmoil.
What if this didn’t work out? What if he couldn’t do this more-important job? What if he failed? Everyone else seemed to treat his promotion like the best thing that could have happened to him. Deep down, Mark was terrified it would be the worst. Feeling slightly sick, Mark wondered if he should go home for the day.
When depression settled into a person’s life, emotions become confused. A promotion at work may produce thoughts of despair and fear. Minor daily irritants can become major life hurdles. The joy of others can become a gloomy reminder of inner insecurities. When our inner thoughts are in turmoil, we have much greater difficulty navigating daily life and our emotional imbalance can tilt toward depression. The demands of life can make us angry, fearful, resentful, frustrated, and irritated. Life produces an emotional response and for some, depression becomes that response.
Depressed people have lost their emotional equilibrium. All of us are born with an emotional spectrum, with the capacity to move across what we call positive and negative emotions. The positive side is exemplified by optimism, hope, and joy. The negative side can be represented by anger, fear, and guilt. Of course, there are a plethora of emotional responses in between these extremes, but I have found these positive responses and these negatives responses to be the strongest at pulling people one way or the other across the emotional spectrum.
People who are depressed live pulled to one side of the emotional spectrum — the negative side. Their emotional responses are so over-represented by anger, fear, and guilt that they have lost the ability to absorb and experience optimism, hope, and joy. Without joy, there is no hope. Without hope, there is no optimism. Without optimism, there is no future. People without a sense of the future become depressed.
This is not to say that anger, fear, and guilt are unnatural. If someone treats us poorly, it is natural for us to feel anger over the injustice. If we are threatened in some way, reacting in fear may save our lives. If we act badly, it is healthy for us to feel guilt. Anger can help energize us to protect and defend ourselves. Fear can motivate us to seek a solution to our danger. Guilt can produce remorse, helping us to change behavior. In proper proportion, they are healthy appropriate emotions.
We have a spectrum of emotions at our disposal to lead healthy, productive lives; and anger, fear, and guilt are on that spectrum. But like many things, too much of them are not a good thing. It is time to get back to finding emotional balance and live life with optimism, hope, and joy. For more information on how to deal with depression, see Five Keys to Dealing with Depression.
If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, The Center • A Place of HOPE can help. The Center was recently voted one of the Top Ten Facilities in the United States for the Treatment of Depression. Break free and achieve peace. Call The Center at 1-888-771-5166 / 425-771-5166, or fill out this form to connect with a specialist.