Gentian is for a mild despondency after a setback. For example, you might have applied for a job and failed to get it. You say ‘I might as well give up’ – but eventually, with a sigh, you fill in another application form for a different job.
Gorse is when you feel very pessimistic. Something has gone wrong and you decide to give up because there is no point trying again. To use the same example, your respones to not getting a job is to say, ‘that’s it, I give up’ and tear up the other application form.
Sweet Chestnut is different altogether. Dr Bach listed Gentian and Gorse in his ‘Uncertainty’ group, because in both instances the problem is not genuine despair but rather a lack of faith. If Gentian and Gorse were more certain of their success they would not be depressed at all. The Sweet Chestnut state comes when all avenues really are closed off.
Imagine someone who has failed to get a job. All the time he is out of work the rent remains unpaid. His wife and children are starving. He has no money to travel to an interview and his clothes are too ragged for him to get work in any case. Then the bailiffs arrive to kick them out of the house.
This is absolute despair, the dark night of the soul, when all possible ways forward are cut off. Even suicide would not be a solution because it would mean abandoning his wife and children.
When you imagine Sweet Chestnut like this you can feel at once the clear difference between it and Gentian and Gorse.
As for Mustard, this is the remedy for when everything in life is fine but we still feel gloomy, as if there were a cloud hanging over us. We might have actually got the job that we really want. We should be excited, but our spirits are low. When people ask why we are so down we can only shrug our shoulders.