As I reflect on my past, I do recall drowning while everyone else is above water. I told my mother about how I haven’t been feeling myself lately. I’ve been feeling stuck, rather having these chains hold me back. I found it very difficult to communicate my feelings to her. I remember her telling me that I could talk to her about anything. She understood how it felt to have depression. She’s had two kids for god ‘s sake, who am I to complain about my life? She told me how she had a similar issue. She used to be on antidepressants, wondering where her life will lead her. For a moments notice, it felt good to know that someone knows how it feels to drown. I wasn’t treated as someone with a problem, or dismissed as someone with a mood swing. It was a real problem, which had negatively affected me last semester. My mother, the toughest woman I know had the same issues I had. She still has them to this day, and we both know that we have each others’ back. Just like Brené Brown said:”Rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection…”. I wholeheartedly agree with her. I don’t know if I would be here without talking to mom that unfortunate day, but I know it motivated me to become a stronger, empathetic person.
What do you mean?
I remember when I told my friends my news many months before my mom knew. They always had a silver lining to the way I was feeling. I know that some children in Africa don’t have access to clean water, I know some people are dead in my situation, I know that your feeling this way too, but why aren’t you trying to tell me the truth? I never understood why they always gave me the run around. I believe it has to do with a block of empathy. While I say this, I don’t necessarily mean they do not possess empathy, but rather lack the skills to understand it. I had some friends not even respond, rather not even care when I reached out to them. It made me realize that there is a huge difference between Empathy and Sympathy.
What’s the big idea?
There is a huge line which defines Empathy and Sympathy. I believe Empathy is the understanding of others emotions by putting yourself into their shoes. Sympathy is basically like feeling sorry for someone, or rather giving minimal effort to understand their situation. Empathy is a deeper connection between individuals; it allows us to connect with each other on an elevated level. Sure we can all feel sympathetic, but only few people can feel empathetic. It’s just because it takes experience and perspective to fully comprehend how and why.
This wonderful article goes in depth while explaining empathy and how it relates to our society as a whole. I found it very insightful for understanding empathy in depth.
I also found that this study from the University of West Florida helped me understand the correlation of empathy and depression. Though this does study does not directly affect me, I find it very useful. The methods used in this study will help anyone who has been through depression understand what happens in certain scenarios.