GUEST COLUMN: Dr N Prabhudev
BENGALURU, Aug. 22
Don’t be sad,” or “Don’t cry” Vs. “It’s normal to feel sad” or “It’s okay to cry.”
Sadness, happiness, fear and anger are basic human emotions! “Sadness gives depth. Happiness gives height. Sadness gives roots. Happiness gives branches. Both are needed, and the higher a tree goes, the deeper it reaches, simultaneously. It is always in proportion. That’s its balance.” — Osho
Sadness can fluctuate throughout the day. In certain moments, the emotional burden might feel particularly heavy. You might cry often, feel numb or drained, and struggle to concentrate. Your sorrow may often seem light enough that you can barely feel its weight. It might linger in some form for days or weeks! Persistent sadness is something else entirely. It can wrap around you like a heavy blanket, muffling the sensations and joy of everyday life. This sadness can leave you feeling low, empty, and defeated.
Feeling sad is not at all unusual. After all, sorrow is a normal human response to disappointment and hurt. Emotional reactions to life’s ups and downs are natural and normal! It’s also normal to feel like you want to be alone sometimes. Downtime can be healthy. You may want to just relax in a quiet place to recharge. You don’t always need to be around people or socialize.
As a child I always heard my father’s stern voice, “Don’t cry. “Boys don’t cry! To this day, I feel the physical sensation of gulping the tears back down. I have hardly cried – first when my father breathed his last and next when my mother passed away! On anything sad, I tried to laugh about it Cover it all up with lies, Hiding the tears in my eyes! ‘Because boys don’t cry!
Boys don’t cry I do not express sadness in front of others. I have internalized the implicit message that sadness is for the self. I spent my youth constantly suppressing or distracting my way out of any inkling of sadness. I thought I had found the answer to life. All pleasure, no pain.
But there was a shallowness to my experiences. I realized that until I learned to swim in sadness, I was always going to be afraid of the ocean of intimacy that existed out there. I decided to confront the sadness. The feelings would rise and peak but eventually pass. None of the sadness lingered.
Outdated attitudes like “big boys don’t cry” encourage men and boys to hide their tears. But crying can be healing — and necessary — for all genders. It’s okay for men to cry. Crying can be a healthy way to process your emotions, and it can have a range of emotional and physical benefits. Hiding your emotions can make it harder to cope with your feelings and seek support.
Depression is when your symptoms of sadness and loss of interest in life are there all the time. You feel sad and withdrawn just about every day. Those feelings don’t let up. You can’t just shake off depression, even though other people in your life may tell you to “snap out of it” or that you can control your emotions. Depression isn’t something you can talk yourself out of feeling. Depression can affect your work, your home life, and relationships.
You may not be able to fall asleep or stay asleep. You also may oversleep and not want to get out of bed. You feel tired and sluggish. You may no longer care about yourself or how you look or dress. You may snap at people often, feel angry or resentful, and have verbal outbursts over small slights. Your mind is in a state of haze! Depression is treatable. Don’t hesitate to take help! Don’t try to deal with depression on your own.
We often suppress sadness because we are afraid of appearing weak or being a burden to the kith and kin! Psychological pain can be just as damaging as physical pain. Expressing sadness elicits empathy and bonding. Sadness often motivates people to self-reflect and evaluate their feelings and thoughts about the events. The next time you are sad, find a medium that works for you — write, sing, play music, paint and even travel. It doesn’t really matter what you do — just create and let the pain transform something mundane into something profound.