I’ve always wondered if a flower sees another flower and then laments something about itself, based on the other flower. I wonder if an orange flower wishes it were a purple flower; or if a flower with a bunch of petals wishes it only had five petals. My guess is that a flower doesn’t think of itself in terms of other flowers, but I still wonder.
The reason I wonder is because people have a tendency to see themselves as “less than” if they compare themselves to some external condition. I’ve heard people say things like, “Maybe if I wasn’t so ugly then maybe I’d be happy;” or “If I was taller, then I’d feel better about myself;” or “If my boss would just move to Haiti, then I’d be happy with my job.” But, the truth is that the lack someone feels is rarely fixed through some external condition. Nor is the lack and sadness someone feel about him or herself fixed through saying things like, “You shouldn’t feel that way, you’re awesome.”
Telling someone that he or she should or shouldn’t feel a certain way is a lot like telling a flower with a missing petal that it should just grow another. I doubt the flower would understand the advice; I also doubt that a person who holds negative thoughts about him or herself will accept someone saying, “Don’t have those thoughts.”
Depression blinds people into thinking that they are worthless and that, regardless of their efforts, they cannot amount to anything other than the piece of crap they believe themselves to be. But this world often lays a world of judgment on someone’s head for admitting that he or she is struggling with even a mild case of Depression. It’s almost like someone is left with little choice BUT to think that some external factor holds a key to relief from the constant sadness Depression brings. Those who do not understand mental illness in general, and specifically, Depression, do tend to reinforce negativistic thinking and behaving, even if the reinforcement is unintentional. It’s like this: A girl struggles with Depression, tells someone who doesn’t understand; the person who doesn’t understand minimizes or dismisses the admission, the girl who struggles with Depression then receives more external evidence that there is, in fact something wrong with her.
The truth is that we wouldn’t judge someone as “wrong” who struggled with Diabetes. But, Diabetes is a known disease and there’s little debate about the moral strength of someone who has Diabetes. But even though those who understand Depression and its role within negativistic thinking can get tricked into thinking that anyone can pull themselves out of any situation if they try hard enough. Recovery from Depression and living a life with hope takes time and patience. There’s nothing wrong with the person who suffers with Depression. There are resources that can help and provide support (some can be found here).
I don’t think I’ll stop seeing flowers and wonder just how much they wish they were other flowers. But, I don’t think I would tell them to stop wishing it…maybe I would try to help them see that they are whole and complete, just as they are. Even if they’re missing a few petals here and there.