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Am I disappointed or depressed?

As I ease into 2018 I have noticed many individuals I have come into contact with have a feeling of anti-climax, let down and disappointment following the Christmas break.

I have heard dialogue of `glad it’s all over`, `the kids drove me mad` and a sense of something just not being `enough`.

It is interesting to me this sudden turn of events, why only a few weeks ago these same people were a flurry of excitement. Every small child is asked by eager adults `so what is father Christmas bringing you? Expectation is heavy in the air, promoted by the media and we drink it in.

So what about this disappointment? After all the celebrations and gifts the expectation would certainly be, that, we should be feeling something like inner peace and gratitude surely? Some of us may, and that is great, but a lot of us do not. We may feel our expectations were raised only to be unmet. We did not achieve our `appointment with expectation`, thus we became `disappointed`.

So where do the expectations come from? Are we raised to be disappointed? Taught to be `expectant and conditioned to feel ungrateful. Can you hear the phrase “It’s not that we are angry with you, we are disappointed” and not inwardly cringe? Do we want to make appointment with expectations that lead to feeling bad?

Why do we do it? Maybe it is something we have always done, a pattern we recognise in ourselves. Bringing up feelings of fear, loss, expectation and disappointment repeatedly

We dig over our expectations and reassess them thoroughly, yet still we find them sprouting in unexpected places, their roots firmly holding onto feelings of loss, shame and a general sense of lacking something. Disappointment can feel lonely and empty.

When disappointment festers within it can eat away at us, we can question whether we are feeling depressed. Although disappointments undoubtedly feel gut-wrenching, there is a difference between feeling disappointed and being depressed. It’s important to begin to understand and make sense of what you're experiencing and feeling and begin to explore where the root is. Through identifying and therefore gaining a better understanding of our emotions we become able to get to the heart of the problem. “Disappointment is a profound way in which sadness is experienced. People seem to do whatever they can to avoid recognizing that they are disappointed and will twist their thinking every which way to not recognize a true disappointment” (Lamia, 2011).

It may be that we are unable to remember the last time we felt disappointed, but regularly experience feelings of depression. A lack of motivation with a loss of self-esteem and a continual apathy towards life can be symptoms for individuals suffering from depression. Individuals can get fixed into a pattern of believing there is no relief in sight, no effort will be worthwhile due to the inevitable despair coming.

Unlike disappointment which can eventually lead to a more determined mind set to problem solve, those that experience depression are more likely to increase their fatalistic thinking and shut down.

It seems a key difference between defining whether we are disappointed or depressed is whether or not it continues. It can be hard to determine for ourselves what's happening inside sometimes, even though we live with our emotions and feelings day-in and day-out. So it's essential to prioritize our happiness and mental health. Sometimes that means getting to the root of our sadness and figuring out where to go from there.

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