“I miss you”, a late night text, where a 20 to 30 something year old sends a message to a friend, family member, or past/ current romantic partner. Three words outlining the emotional void felt somewhere between the adrenal gland, rib cage or shoulder area, casually attributed to as “heartache.” That feeling of sudden sadness, confusion or dissociation where we recognize something we had or something once familiar that is no longer there.
Let’s call this, “Leaving the nest syndrome”. The excitement and anticipation of leaving home becomes the internal drive of most junior and senior high schoolers or more local 20 something’s seeking to branch out and try life on their own. That euphoric sensation of invincibility drives us through the stressors of packing and unpacking, momentary set backs of lost moving vans to broken glassware to unreachable landlords to semi-helpful new roommates. All that is met and managed through as the thirst for freedom drips with salivating delight. We made it. Home at last.
Where exactly are we moving to? Where are we moving from? Can we ever truly leave home? What do we seek to leave behind?
Most might say, from childhood memories, parental or extended family stressors, economically depressed communities and limited mid to high paying salaries for the average college grad as the reason to flee from home aka the past. A desire to start new. Free to create, design and mold life as she or he sees fit.
So why then are we meeting spaces of 20 to 30 year olds simmering with daily stress, anxiety and depression? These are meant to be the happiest times of one’s life. Starting careers, nurturing new families, building newer professional/academic connections, molding a home life, life is meant to be ripe in opportunity.
Yet, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), close to 300 million people worldwide report living with depression. Meaning a sizeable portion of our everyday neighbors are not living life to the fullest, not feeling a sense of freedom, and are more at risk for self harm behaviors including binge drinking, drug abuse, violence and even suicide. WHO further notes that suicide has become the second leading cause of death for individuals 15 to 29 years of age with pockets of the world facing immense barriers towards access to quality, affordable and sustainable mental health services.
How did we get here? Why is it that today, in 2018, with the most technologically advanced means to stay in touch with anyone literally across the world—to the moon and back—segments of our population are ladden in loneliness, sadness, depression and anxiety? All of which are conditions that have the ability to impact our most basic functions to sleep, eat and socialize in our day to day world.
What are our solutions? First, let’s start talking. Truly talking. Or do we let the facade of projected happiness through vacationing, homeownership, irrationally perfect family/children postings and accumulation of additional material possessions postings on social media send to the universe the message, “Yes, I’m happy and I’m ok. More than ok, I’m great.”
For those living on Cloud 9, we salute your ability to thrive, meet life head on and feel completely free from financial and social stressors. Now, for the 300 million people reported living with chronic depression, let’s start talking about it. Let’s talk about our stressors and challenges. Let’s make an effort to reach out to friends, mentors, and loved ones. For a deeper and more personal discussion, consider meeting with a mental health provider who specializes in managing stress, depression and anxiety. Take the time out for yourself. Self care is a #1 strategy when managing long term depression and anxiety. Consider exercise, yoga, reading, journaling, prayer, mediation, clean eating, and socializing with uplifting peers and family members.
In our day to day world, be sure to look out for one another. And maybe next time, you get that text from a distant loved one or friend saying, “I miss you”, take a moment and text them back, “I miss you too and I care about you.” Better yet, pick up the phone and call them. You have the ability to enrich and even save someone’s life, way more than you know.