Article by Nikki W
Editing and Post Design by Christy Zigweid
Photo made using @WordSwagApp
Photo by debw07 via Pixabay CC
The day my daughter was born was the day my eyes truly opened for the first time. When my heart swelled as never before, I suddenly became aware of a consideration much bigger than myself. Any concerns or preoccupations about the life I should have been living became insignificant as I was introduced to a reason for my existence. My real purpose in life. To care for this innocent being and enable her to become all she could be.
Before I became a mother I struggled with periods of depression. During those times I would feel a great want for peace that could perhaps come if I just didn't exist. There were no cries for help or a want for attention, I had no intention of taking my life, I just felt the world wouldn't notice if I just wasn't there.
As I compare the life I lead now (physically and emotionally) to the life I had back then I can't help but wonder if finding a purpose for one’s existence can overturn a life of depression.
10% of the UK’s population will experience depression in their lifetime. This critical illness is much more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days; we all go through spells of feeling down. It’s when you feel persistently sad for weeks or months and it’s something you can’t "snap out of" by "pulling yourself together." According to a recent study led by the World Health Organization (WHO), global failure to tackle depression is costing the world nearly $1 trillion a year in lost productivity and causing “an enormous amount of human misery.” The study urges the international community to make mental health a priority, as without scaled-up treatment, a staggering 12 billion working days – or 50 million years of work – will be lost to depression between now and 2030.
As unique individual’s, depression can vary from person to person and can happen for one or more reasons. In many cases, the first time someone becomes depressed, it’s been triggered by an unwelcome or traumatic event, such as a bereavement, divorce, or assault. Occasionally it may appear for no obvious reason. Whatever the cause there appears to be left a lack of purpose to ones’ life that sits like an empty hole, thereafter getting filled in with a consuming sadness. Yet for me, in a single moment, my illness was lifted and replaced by something more worthy.
Now, there are about a million things online telling you how to find your true purpose in life. If you're feeling unmotivated, unsure of yourself, aimless, can't find your passion, directionless, not clear on what your ultimate purpose is, it appears you’re in good company — many people are in the same boat. The journey to finding ones’ true purpose can be a lifetime of searching. This is different, having a life with no purpose at all gives us no reason to exist.
As said by Ralph Waldo Emerson “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Whether we are conscious of this life aim matters not, the affect will be the same. We are all born with an innate drive to achieve an individual purpose(s). From the moment of our birth we naturally set ourselves developmental goals to achieve. This then, can be replaced by emotional targets ever changing as we evolve along our life’s path. Some are more consciously aware of their wants and then in-turn purpose to be strived for. Whereas other’s follow where the wind may lead, the purpose is still there. When we are stripped of this reason to live, our innate drive has nowhere to direct itself and therefore self-grieves until we can give it a new goal to work towards.
Finding a purpose big enough to shed the depression cloak is no small feat but conscious effort loosens its hold. Deciding to do something to help yourself is the most important conscious step you can take. Try to recognise patterns of negative thinking when you are doing it, and replace it with a more constructive activity. By connecting with others and participating in the environment around you, your drive is given an opportunity to discover a new focus to its attention that might otherwise be ignored.
Let awareness of purpose arm you with strength to over-turn your depression.
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