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Normal Now

Jim Still-Pepper

devozine, Sad GirlIt is OK to be sad. Sadness is a normal, human reaction. If something negative has happened in your life, you can expect to be sad. 

Sadness does not have to hang around like an unwanted friend. It is OK to be sad; it is not OK to let it ruin your life indefinitely. 

Forest’s Story

Forest was a normal, happy teenager until his dad was diagnosed with cancer. When his dad died, Forest’s depression began. Forest started sleeping a lot. He no longer enjoyed being with his friends. Homework that used to be easy was now a burden. He had some of the classic signs of depression.

Abused Guy2 TS 115723721When Forest’s dad died, people told him it was OK to cry. But their support stopped about three months after the funeral. Then everyone told him to move on. Forest remembers thinking, I can’t move on. Something must be wrong with me because I can’t stop feeling sad.

Forest was fortunate. His mom told him, “It’s good that you are sad. After all, you loved your dad. You will not always be sad; but you are for now. Don’t dwell on it or try to make yourself be happy. If you want to cry, cry. If you want to laugh, laugh. Give yourself time.”

Forest felt a sense of hope. He could not stop feeling sad, but he knew his feelings were normal. Forest still has times when he gets depressed, but his sadness doesn’t rule him or ruin his life.

What You Can Do

N-ever put pressure on yourself to change instantly.

O-wn your actions. Sadness does not give you the right to lose control of your behavior; you are still responsible for your actions.

R-ely on God and others to help you.

M-ake choices based on what you want, not on how you feel.

A-ccept your sadness as a normal part of life.

L-ive life; don’t back off.

What You Can’t Do

C-hange right away. Sadness takes time to work through.

A-nswer every question: Why did it happen? When will I stop being sad?

N-ow! You can’t always change things now; healing takes place over time.

T-urn off your feelings.

 

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DIG DEEPER

Read Philippians 4:4–8. Make a list of what you can do to work through the sad times in your life. But remember, it is OK to be sad.

These are some common symptoms of depression:

  • sadness or irritability that continues all day, almost every day for at least two weeks
  • lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • pulling away from friends and family
  • significant weight gain or loss
  • sleeping too much or not enough
  • restlessness or a decrease in physical activity
  • tiredness
  • feelings of worthlessness
  • inability to concentrate
  • suicidal thoughts or actions
  • failing to maintain grades or relationships.

The more symptoms you have, the more likely it is that you need help. Realize that all of these symptoms can be dealt with. They don’t have to ruin your life forever. If you are concerned about the symptoms you have, show this list to at least two people—a trusted friend and an adult. If you need immediate help, contact the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).

Jim Still-Pepper is a therapist who works with youth and their families in Zanesville, Ohio.

—from devozine (September/October 2003). Copyright © 2003 by Upper Room Ministries. All rights reserved.

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