Monster Under the Bed (A Short Story)

“Mom, what is depression?” My four-year-old girl asked as we sat on her bed.

I closed the book of bedtime stories in my lap and glanced down at her. “Where did you hear the word, honey?”

“You were telling Gramma on phone.”

I did mention it to my mother that evening. I debated whether to tell her, but then I saw her big eyes waiting for me. Might as well warn her now.

“Well, baby,” I began, “Depression is that monster under your bed that grows each time you go to sleep, eventually engulfing your whole room and kicking you out of your own space. It’s the phase where you start to doubt not only yourself but also everyone around you, doubt their intentions even if they’re essentially good to you.

You damage the people who love you by being withdrawn, upset or losing temper because more than the people disappointing you, you keep disappointing yourself. There’s no greater pain than living with someone who constantly pulls you down, is there? And when the voice is coming from within, it’s difficult to make it stop talking. Headphone claimed they could shut out the noise, but not the sound of your voice.

In depression, you never know if you could be whole again. The feeling is so far out of reach, you don’t even remember how you were before it started to settle in.

Little things crumple you—a fight with a friend, an exam coming up, a negative remark. You handle it by shutting the world out and thinking about that problem day in and out, sometimes magnifying it in your head. You start to eat too much or too little. You start to ignore the calls, ignore your health.

But that is a completely wrong way to handle it. It neither solves the problem nor emancipates you from it.

The only way to deal with the situation is raising your confidence. When you are secure in yourself, there are very few outside forces that rattle your inner peace. And stress or depression is nothing but your inner peace shredded to pieces.

But increasing confidence is not a cake walk, especially if you’re the type to hang behind a crowd, head low. So step one is to be prepared. If you have a presentation or exam or meeting coming up, be well prepared in advance for it. I have learned stress bogs you down, while healthy pressure keeps you grounded.

But being prepared is possible only when you know what to expect. What do you do in case of a situation that is outside your control? Like a tussle with a friend or someone spitting a rude remark or spreading rumours about you? In that situation the only thing you can do is remain calm, not react and not give the others the pleasure to see you stressed. When things get worse, just walk away. Nothing or no one is worth more than your peace of mind.

But that needs some guts and guts come when you have enough confidence. Confidence is nothing but just the understanding that you are above these trivial nuisances.

Another thing to boost your confidence is to maintain your hygiene. If your outer appearance is in order, it empowers you. People tend to pay attention to a person wearing a suit in a meeting than the one wearing a superman t-shirt. When you’re pleased with your appearance, you automatically feel secured and exude the calmer vibe.

Achieving all this takes time. Trust me, I should know. But one day, you’ll learn.

Besides, when you have a daughter who looks up to you and considers you her hero, you start to pull yourself together because that’s your only choice.” I smiled. “No wonder they say there’s strength in motherhood.”

I looked at my daughter who was asleep beside me, the book of bedtime lying between us. I hadn’t meant to explain it to her as specifically as I did, but I couldn’t stop. There’s a comfort in sharing your problems and triumphs with someone who is too young to understand them.

I kissed my daughter on the cheek, the person who was the reason I was whole again, and gazed at the peaceful look on her face. I tucked her in and dimmed the night light. This time, I didn’t glance under our bed before sliding into the blanket next to her.

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