Dr. Zeba Hisam September 1st 1995, published in DAWN Mostly people do not understand the term depression. I did not understand it either until I went through a long period of despondency, when the days stretched out in a long cheerless span. It was then I stopped equating the term “depression” with mild case of blues or temporary unhappiness. From my own personal experience I can say that depression is a continuing state of hopelessness and helplessness. Whatever the cause, the symptoms are the same in every case. It is a condition where the victim becomes so miserable that he has to push himself to get up from the bed in the morning. A depressed person automatically feels better towards the evenings and wait anxiously for the night so he can go to bed again. He doesn’t want to be questioned about his lethargy. Despite taking sleeping pills, he remains awake during the night, and feels miserable in the morning. To him, the cheerful rays of the sun are like the dark. The day ahead is another mountain to climb. The deeper one immerses oneself into depression, the harder it is to come out. But where there is a will, there is always a way. If you are a victim of depression and want to come out of it then it is essential to develop the will to conquer this state. It is important to discuss how one is feeling with someone close like parents, brothers or sisters or even a sincere friend. You don’t need to discuss the problem with everyone-only with those you love and trust. Don’t stop the tears. They are supposed to flow. Develop complete faith in God and offer prayers. Read the Quran along with its meaning. Try to read only a few lines and ponder over the meanings and explanation given on the side the page. Try to find out the topic that is related to your problem and read the meaning. When I started reading the translation with a purpose, I could not believe what I was missing out in life. I thank God that I was born a Muslim. One should be as clear as possible about the cause of depression. Most people do not understand the real problem. Rather, they are afraid to admit it even to themselves. Sometimes they are confused if the causes are too many. When no reason is found, depression is attributed to one’s inner self. But I don’t believe this. There is always a reason that gives rise to depression and this be probed thoroughly. One should be truthful to oneself and admit readily the cause of depression. If you are undergoing severe depression, try to avoid blaming others for bringing on this state. Time should never be wasted in sulking. You must develop a positive approach to life. This will entail forgetting about the past and thinking about the present (not even future).At least try not to recall the past. Brush away those thoughts that enter your mind. A continuous effort is needed to burry memories and concentrate on something else. Never view the past from a different angle i.e. if I had done that, the outcome would have been quite different. What has been done can not be undone so it is no use brooding. The main step is to try and accomplish simple goals. You don’t have to think that” I will achieve this or the consequences will be awful”. Rather, “I will try to sit on the chair for sometime rather than staying in bed the whole day”. This much only should be the aim initially, not more than that. If you succeed in this, take on bigger goals like getting up early in the morning, taking a bath and changing. The try and do some work even if it is only dusting or cleaning the room. If for some reason, you are out of a job, never consider yourself inferior or incapable of starting a career. Your abilities are still intact, only a conscious struggle is required. Never be discouraged that a long time has been spent on doing nothing. Just remember that more time will be wasted if you continue to think like that. Never compare yourself to other colleagues who have achieved high positions in their careers. Circumstances are different with everyone. It is better late than never! Life is not unworthy. It is a blessing from God. In this whole universe, there is not one being who is worthless. If someone is facing a problem, there are millions of people who are going through even bigger mishaps. God tests His creation by putting problems before it, and at the same time, endowing it with courage and tolerance. People who go through these problems are lucky in the sense that a bitter experience teaches them a lot, and depending on how they take it, helps mold their character in a positive way. Understand that nobody but yourself can bring out of your depression. You have to rely on yourself. Don’t wait for someone to come and sprinkle happiness on your life. Always remember that happiness is inside one and it has to be dug out. Most people imagine that happiness awaits them when they reach their goal. So they ignore the simple pleasures on the way. If the results of expectations are reversed, the happiness on the way is lost as well. In such a situation, one becomes very touchy. Simple things can give real enthusiasm. A new spirit can be awakened. There is one instance when the past must be remembered- what were your hobbies? Try and take an interest in them once again. This may be very difficult initially, but it can work. When I was going through my period of depression, I had no idea when I would take an interest in what had earlier engrossed me, when I would once again start listening to music , reading, writing or go out to water the plants and marvel at the beauty of flowers. I was once lying on my bed in complete despair, with tears in my eyes and a leaden feeling in my heart and soul when I saw “Nawa-e – Gham” by Allama Iqbal and randomly opened it. My eyes alighted on a poem that worked small miracles on my soul. It taught me to see my unhappiness from a new perspective. I had always thought that I would not be able to understand Iqbal’s poetry and so had never read it before. I thought the same of Ghalib’s poetry. But gradually, because of my depression, their poetry opened up new vistas for me. For the first time in my life I realized that what a powerful medium poetry is and how much it can affect the mind and soul. Similarly, music and songs with cheerful lyrics also perk up sagging spirits. For me beautiful lyrics sung by melodious musical stars like Punkhaj Malik, Malika Pukhraj and Tahira Syed gave birth to the desire to live, to go on. Western classical music also did much to boost this desire. Similarly, plants give one joy. Try to care for a plant, water it, change its soil and see how much it lifts your spirit when the first bud blooms. Put a mud bowl, one filled with roti, among the plants, to attract the birds. It will give you pleasure when birds dip their wings into the water and drink water. At last one day, you will find that your depression is no more, it is over. You will not believe it but that is also how it happened with me. Just remember: only determination is required to get rid of depression.