Dealing with Depression/negative feelings


dr. deshmukh,
my dad put a delicate string fence on a small area of our front yard about three months ago,in order for people, especially mail carriers to walk around and avoid stepping on the grass. he has been trying to get the grass to grow, since he has planted seeds there. however, there have been several times when someone or something has been knocking the fence down. i assume it has been the mail carriers plowing through it. i tend to get very offended when someone messes with the grass or fence. i just see it as being disrespectful. this past week i've been constantly waiting for the mail carriers to arrive everyday to see if someone knocks down the fence. things had been looking good until today. a mail carrier avoided the fence, but still walked right on the grass vertically on the opposite side. he could have easily walked on the side walk that leads to our front door instead. it kind of defeats the purpose of having a fence. anyway i'm real upset over this particular matter. i wish i would have just told the man to walk on the pavement. at first  i was glad that he didn't wreck the fence, but then i was mad that he walked on the grass. he didn't seem like a very kind person at all. i just need some feedback on how to rise above this problem, and how not to get so upset of someone knocking down the fence or walking on the grass. i'd also like to know how i should approach this mail carrier if i should see him again. thanks very much for your time.


Thank you for writing to me. I can understand how annoyed one might feel after someone has disregarded one's efforts, in any way. We all have experienced such disturbances with regards to a variety of day to day things.  

I will divide my reply in two aspects.

1) Mail carriers knocking the fence / walking on the grass
2) How to approach the mail carrier the next time

First things first. The mail carriers knocking the fence or walking onto the grass are triggers to certain thoughts in your mind. It is not necessary for you to entertain these thoughts each time the trigger happens, and we will see how that can be achieved. But what also helps is if you can do something to reduce or eliminate those triggers. Conventional thinking might say the mail carriers actions (triggers) are the cause of your disturbances. But we have to understand that that's not the case. The disturbances are coming from the various thoughts that are triggered after the mail carriers have knocked down the fence or walked on the grass. Having said that, we can always try to improve the environment and thus reduce the number of triggers.

It is important that the mail carriers or anyone who might be near the fence area, know that they are supposed to avoid getting on to the grass. Some people might not notice the fence. Some others might not understand the importance of the fence. Thus, it is the responsibility of the owner to make it very clear to them that this area is not supposed to be stepped upon. To achieve this, you may use any means available such as sign boards, bold colors for the fence, etc.

There might be a limited number of people who repeatedly step on the grass, knowingly or unknowingly. These people may not be aware of how important this fencing might be for you or your father. You can focus on these people and let them know. For example - you may be able to reduce the incidences of stepping by a significant percentage just by talking to this one particular mail carrier who seems to be a not so kind person. We will see how you can approach him.

Looking at the two aspects  -

1) Mail carriers knocking the fence / walking on the grass

You have mentioned that you feel offended when someone does this. And you probably see their actions as "them being disrespectful" of you and/or your father. You might also think they are being disrespectful of your efforts, or of mankind in general. In this regard, can you write more about what you think about the situation? You can write your thoughts as answers to some of these questions -

a) What does it mean to you that the mail carrier is being disrespectful? What does it mean to you about you/ your efforts / about the mail carrier and about life in general?

b) how annoyed do you feel? And what do you think will the worst outcome be, if people continue to step on to the grass no matter what. Will you be able to survive that? Is there a possibility that even after the worst outcome has happened, you and your father may still build it all up again?

c) When you think of the mail carrier as not a very kind person, what more is going on in your mind? Why must all people be kind to each other? If someone is not being kind, does it say something about you / that person or the world you live in?

I will be able to write more on this once I get to know more of your thoughts. Let us see the second aspect.

2) How to approach the mail carrier the next time

This part is, in my opinion, much associated, and dependent upon how you think about the first aspect. To know how assertive, directive and unshakeable you can be while talking to the mail carrier, you have to know how calm you are from the inside, how accepting you are of this whole behavior of the mail carrier and how accepting you are of yourself being in this situation in life. In other words, you will have to be assertive enough to let him know that this fence has a purpose and that he is not supposed to walk on the grass. If you find the mail carrier a bit aggressive in his approach, you can still make your point. Most people, however aggressive or unkind they may be, do take care of little things. At the present for him, not respecting the fence may not look like a very big offence as long as no one is pointing it out ot him. But he may take special care and surprise you by being careful, if he is told in a way he understands. You will have to take a call upon what kind of a talk will be appropriate with that person. He may just need to be told two sentences or he may need an elaborate discussion starting with how important the area is for your father. But at the end, it is important to know that the point of the discussion is clear to him. You may even involve him in the process by asking him for suggestions for a better fence. This step might pleasantly surprise him and he may cooperate by being careful the next time and by providing you with more ideas.

At the moment I can think of this much. I will be able to write more, though. Meanwhile, you can write to me more on these aspects, taking cues from the three questions I have mentioned.

I hope this helps.

Take care.

Dealing with Depression

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Abhijeet Deshmukh, MD


Hello. I have volunteered here to help you with questions regarding Depression. I intend to focus on the questions which are about how to deal with depression. Even if the depression is part of some other disorder, you can ask me about that. You can also ask me questions related to Psychotherapy for depression. I apply the principles of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy in my own life, and also help my clients/patients with those. I believe in providing my clients/patients with the best possible and evidence based information. The same applies to the online answers here, too.


I am a trained Psychiatrist working since over 9 years. I am also a certified Psychotherapist (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy).

Indian Medical Association, Nagpur Academy of Medical Sciences, Nagpur

"Effect of Indian classical music on quality of sleep in depressed patients: A randomized controlled trial" - (Main Author) - Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, Volume 18, Issue 1 March 2009 , pages 70 - 78

I have done my MBBS from the Government Medical College and Hospital, Nagpur. Psychiatry training - DPM (Diploma in Psychological Medicine) from BYL Nair Charitable Hospital, Mumbai. Psychotherapy training - Primary + Advanced Certificate in REBT from Albert Ellis Institute, New York. Basic + Advanced Certificate in REBT from In Vivo - Mumbai Center for REBT, Mumbai.

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