Category Archives: These Hard Times

Better Days

f2a543087be1f253b8b42bd1a25bb44fYesterday I was watching Goo Goo Dolls concert on Yahoo! Live. Goo Goo Dolls is one of my favourite bands of all time. Their song Better Days brings so much memories. When this song first came out, I was in middle school. I kept listening to it through out my high school years. When the lead singer was singing it yesterday and said “Just the chance that maybe we’ll find better days” I remembered when I used to sing along and believed wholeheartedly in this line.

When I was a teenager and a high school student, I would ask myself “when will this period of my life end?”. I wanted to finish high school quickly so that I can go to college, and after graduating I would land an amazing job and be an independent adult. I was naïve; I thought that my senior high school year was the worst time in my life. I had hopes for the future, and I’d never imagined that this is how things will go.

I wanted these days I’m living right now to be the “better days” that I was waiting for. I am lucky that for sometime it was, but then things took a different turn. I am now picking up the pieces of my shattered life. I still have hope that someday I will be living the “better days”. If I ever lose this hope, life would be meaningless.

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Childood Hopes

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About a month ago I went back to my parents house in the country where my family still resides. It’s the house where I spent most of my childhood and teenage years. I was rummaging through the dusty bookshelves to find a good book to read, instead I found an old book from my childhood.

This is a story that I used to repeatedly read when I was a kid (don’t remember my exact age then). The story is basically about a young girl named Alissa that likes to read and learn, but she’s poor and doomed to a future of being an uneducated slave. She’s forced to leave her village and go to the city to work for a mean man and his merciless wife. Then she works for a woman in a clothes shop with five other girls for long tiring hours. One day, a regular customer, a tall pretty lady, takes interest in Alissa after a situation that showed Alissa’s trustworthiness. The lady decides to take Alissa to live in her house and make sure she gets a good education and live a happy life.

I remember reading this before going to bed. Although I knew how the story ends, I kept reading it almost every night. I would feel genuinely happy for Alissa every time I read the last page of the book. I think I liked this story because it gave me hope. It gave me hope that eventually justice will be done and everyone will get their happily ever after. If only we remain as innocent and optimistic as we were when we were kids.

Quick Advice: Keep A Notebook

Sometimes we don’t have someone to talk to, and other times we just want to talk to ourselves to find the roots of a specific problem. While keeping a journal is important and very helpful for many reasons, you also need to keep a small notebook for certain times.

If you are going through a tough time in your life or there’s too much going on and you want to do something to help you understand what’s happening and why you’re reacting like that towards it, I suggest you buy a small notebook and some colored pens and do the following.
1- Write down the problem.
2- Ask yourself the question you want to find the answer for and write it down.
3- Start writing any ideas you think might be the answer.
4- Write down your feelings in form of scattered words.
5- Draw diagrams, cartoon…etc that can express your emotions.
6- Use the colored pens according to the mood that the words indicate.
7- Keep writing, drawing, asking yourself questions, and answering it until you feel better and reach the answer to you problem.
8- Keep that notebook to use it later.

Make this notebook your friend. Trust me it will help you.

The Spirit of a Fisherman

I was spending a day at the shore when a fisherman caught my attention. He would repeatedly throw his bait in the sea and roll the reel back to get his catch. I had no idea what he was doing, and still don’t to be honest. I think it was some kind of recreational fishing, or maybe he was practicing or something. I am not a fan of fishing, and that’s not the point of this post. What caught my attention and what I want to talk about is the act itself. He threw the bait many times and every time he’d get nothing. Still, he’d throw it over and over again while keeping a smile on his face. As I said before, I couldn’t understand what he was trying to do, but it inspired me somehow.

We all face situations in life where we fail, get frustrated, and decide to quit. In other words, we decide to stop trying. We would set goals and get determined to achieve them, but in the middle of the drive we would just stop! Why? Here are some reasons why we stop trying:
– We can’t see the point of going further anymore
– We no more have the enthusiasm we had at the beginning of the journey
– We don’t have enough will to go on
so quitting becomes easier and justified. Let’s say you started a project and was so excited at first, then in the middle of it your performance started to slack off. You no more feel enthusiastic as before and start slowly to get off track. Or maybe you are trying to lose weight, you eat healthy and exercise but you are not really seeing the results you were aiming for. It makes you angry and want to reach for the nearest box of donuts. You assume that since you’re not as thin as you imagined you’d be by now your effort is in vain. That’s not true of course! What you’ve been doing is called trying. Trying is your way to reach your goals. If you are going to give up from your first failed attempt, then don’t expect to get what you want. The difference between successful people and failures is that successful people never give up. They never get tired of trying over and over again to see the results they’ve been wishing to see. Let me remind you of a quote by Thomas Edison: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

I decided to take the fisherman as an inspiration for patience and persistence. Let’s look at it that way:
the act of throwing the bait in the sea equals trying. He doesn’t know for sure if he’s gonna get a catch. But he will never know if he doesn’t take a shot, right? Then he pulls back to see what he got. Now there are two scenarios here. The first scenario he will have a big fish right in front of him. The other one is he will end up with an empty hand. If the second scenario happened would it be the right thing for him to put the fishing rod down and start crying over how he couldn’t catch a fish? No! He would try again and again until he catches something, and it doesn’t matter how long it will take him. The only thing that matters is that he does not quit before he gets what he wants.

So if you are tired of looking for jobs for example, remember the fisherman. Throw your CV, resume, cover letter…etc into the sea of companies and wait till someone swallows the bait. Even if you did not get accepted from the first try, don’t give up. Take another shot and stay optimistic. Always remember: don’t ever stop trying until you see the results you were anticipating. And trust me, all your failed attempts will pay off at the end. The most important thing is to learn from it and use it as your way to a foolproof performance. When you feel like quitting or start to lack the enthusiasm, just remember how important your goal is and how sweet it will be when you finally achieve it. So let’s all have the spirit of a fisherman and go get the catch!

Got the blues? Or…? (part 1)

Have you been feeling down lately? Is it something temporary or have you been like this for a long time now? Are you having the blues? It’s not Monday, you know. Or are you up to something more serious? I want to talk today about a grave subject in our life: depression. The reason why I thought of writing about this condition is that I’ve been having some mood swings lately. But depression is not just some “mood swings”, it’s way more than that.

What is depression?

So what exactly is depression? Depression, according to Oxford medical dictionary, is a mental state characterized by excessive sadness. This mood disorder has persistent symptoms that last for more than two weeks. This illness can affect your thoughts, behavior, feelings and sense of well-being. So it’s not exactly a case of a bad day, it’s a condition that lasts for weeks or even months. Some people think “it’s not a big deal” but it’s actually a serious illness that needs to be treated in order to prevent any dangerous complications.

How to know if you’re depressed

According to WebMd, the symptoms of depression are:

Psychological symptoms:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

Physical symptoms:

  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment

As you can see, depression doesn’t only affect you mentally but also physically. So, if you have most of these symptoms mentioned above you are probably suffering from depression.

Why do we get depressed?

Generally, there are many causes of depression. It is caused by a combination of factors such as a person’s genes, personal experience, neurochemical (a drug or other substance that affects the nervous system) factors and psychological factors. It can also be due to a chronic illness (a condition that lasts for a very long time and usually cannot be cured completely) like diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and HIV/AIDS. But as a normal teenager or an adult, let’s see why you can get depressed.
Let me talk about the psychological and environmental factors here. As a teenager, you are probably facing a lot of pressure in your daily life. Whether it’s your parents’ high expectations, getting good grades in school, or peer pressure, it could affect you in a negative way. All this environmental stress can cause feeling of frustration, despair, self-worthlessness, helplessness, anxiety, and fear. You keep worrying about your social life and social status, your future, problems in your household…etc. The same thing can apply for young adults and adults. Getting a job, the pressure from your boss at work, feeling like you are stuck in a rut, and all the other ‘real world’ problems can be very overwhelming. You start to isolate yourself inside your safe shell to avoid all this. The next thing you know, you are falling in a dark pit. This can lead you to think of suicide as a way out.

Warning signs of suicide:

  • Talking about killing or harming one’s self
  • Expressing strong feelings of hopelessness or being trapped
  • An unusual preoccupation with death or dying
  • Acting recklessly, as if they have a death wish (e.g. speeding through red lights)
  • Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
  • Getting affairs in order (giving away prized possessions, tying up loose ends)
  • Saying things like “Everyone would be better off without me” or “I want out”
  • A sudden switch from being extremely depressed to acting calm and happy

Getting help!

If you show the signs of depression and/or suicide or know someone who does, you should get help immediately. There are a lot of methods to fight depression, and different treatments works for different people; whether it’s support from your family and friends, a lifestyle change, or professional help. I recommend you get help from a mental health professional. They can offer effective treatments such as medication, group therapy, and alternative treatments. Also your family and friends can be a great source of hope that will help you to recover. Do not shut yourself from the outside world and say that you are better off away from everyone else. A night out with your friends or a road trip with your family can definitely lift your mood and prove to you that there are people who care about you, and you’d be selfish to think of leaving them.

Still, some of us might not be able to reach for professional help, or too afraid to ask. And maybe your friends or family can’t provide you the support that you need to get your life back. So in that case, what can you do? I am going to discuss ways you can fight depression if you are alone in this. In Got the blues? Or…? (part 2) I am going to talk to you about how to beat depression from within and finally reach the light at the end of the long dark tunnel.

You can find more info about depression here:
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/index.shtml

You can find more info about teen depression in this link:
http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/teen-depression