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Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Don't hesitate to seek help

One thing I often hear from patients in my consultation room is, "Why did this have to happen to me?"

    Depression is said to be more common among people who are devoted. They work past their natural limits, or don't say when they are tired, not wanting to impose on those around them. When I say, "Your devotion backfired," and they reply back softly, "Is it wrong to be devoted?" I always regret what I said. Devotion is a strong point of such people, and we shouldn't say, "If you were less hard-working, you would have gotten by without getting depression."

    In other cases, they say, "I was betrayed by my colleagues," or "I was diagnosed with cancer." Having fallen into low spirits and been recommended to see a psychiatrist, they visit my clinic and say, "Why me?" "Is there no God, no Buddha?" I then give a muddied response.

    When I see these people, I wonder whether, even without an unequal society, life is simply unfair and absurd from the start. Not everyone who works hard is rewarded like in "The Ant and the Grasshopper."

    Before I resign myself to believing that life is unfair, some people come to my mind. One of them, after suffering from a disaster in their life, began working to help society because they "wanted to help people suffering in the same way." Another person had struggled against a string of unfortunate incidents, saying, "Still, I don't want to become someone who is jealous of others." Another person said, "I can't fully recover, but I want to live out this life I was given," and continued living out their days with care, cooking and cleaning. So many times, I have been shown by my patients how dignified humans can act.

    Of course, we should do what we can to avoid meeting unfortunate events in our lives. But there will still be some probability that problems will occur. Sometimes we will be visited with multiple bad things in a row. It's normal at those times to feel down, or to curse one's fate, and we needn't overly restrain our feelings. At the same time, we shouldn't completely give up, and as long as we have a means of recovery left at our disposal, we have the ability to pull ourselves back up. It's OK to ask for help from experts or friends, too, and this is what I want to say to people who feel that this year has been an unlucky one for them. (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

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