Do I equal my depression?

There was an excellent piece of writing (in Finnish) in our main newspaper about how depression is percieved in the society. 

The article talks about how, if you are able to work, have friends or perhaps go for a jog, your depression is not believable.

Found on Pinterest

It’s pretty risky to think that all suffering from depression would act the same way. Even health care professionals seem to make this mistake a lot of times. 

But we all have different personalities, and we all have different lifestories.

Let’s talk about me for a moment here, cause that’s a subject I’m quite familiar with… 

Why I got depressed, when someone else in my situation might have survived without?

For eight months I was practically not sleeping, and eating such a low-calorie diet (breastfeeding diet because of Junior’s allergies), I must’ve been starving. But I was used to taking care of everyone else, before thinking about myself. We had two small kids to take care of.

I wasn’t really asking myself, how I was doing.

I am stubborn as hell, a control freak and an overachiever. It was so hard to admit I needed help. It was even harder admitting the depths of those dark holes that I had been down. 

I felt that I didn’t “deserve” to feel as bad as I did, cause I had all these beautiful things and people in my life. But the anger, the panic attacks, the despair and the apathy was there and I didn’t invite it. But it took an actual physical illness to eventually gain me access to therapy and medication. Because I wasn’t just laying in bed all day. Because I put my mascara on. Because I showered?

Even as I write this, I’m not entirely sure, if I will ever post this. 

In some ways I want to participate (if I can) in making depression less of a taboo.

In others, I’m afraid people will start judging everything I do (or even worse – they will start acting differently towards me) based on this somewhat minor detail about me. I say minor, because fundamentally I am who I have always been – in good and bad. 

But if you have never gone down this path, some things must be hard to understand… 

Like how, when I was in my darkest place, for a social worker to ask me to spend 15 minutes playing with our kid was like asking for the moon. 

Like how it is possible to spend a night out with friends acting all happy and “normal”, while being afraid of the next day. 

How it is totally possible to wash your hair and do your make-up, but still want to jump off a balcony so you wouldn’t have to listen to anymore demands from anyone, including yourself.

And how it is possible to come back from that dark place and become you again.

Or perhaps even a better version of you? My happiness project is not strictly speaking a means to cure me from depression. I do other stuff for that, as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts. The happiness project is more a tool to help me grow as a person.

So that I will be braver. So that if I fail in something, I will bounce back faster. So that my need for making people happy doesn’t eat me up. So that I can believe people can like me for who I am – even if I am a bit awkward, talk too much and have the weirdest sense of humor. And if I am not liked, that is ok too. So that I will not let my screaming ego stand in the way of doing things. 

(An example; right now my ego is shouting like a maniac: “how selfish to think anyone would want to read about your story! Why should anyone care! If you post this, you will ruin your life for sure!”)

And already concentrating on the little things has helped a lot. It’s never going to be pure sunshine 100% of the time – but that’s just life.

Even a simple “pulla” can make you happy for all the right reasons

My motto for years used to be “think negative and you shall not be disappointed.” In the future I want my motto to be more like:

“Think positive and good things are going to happen.”

Side effected by happiness project

There are things brewing inside me that I totally put down to my trying to understand what makes me happy. 

Now, let’s see what I have noticed, or done lately, that I would never have imagined doing in the past!

– Feeling at ease hugging people. Also having an urge to touch all kinds of things in addition to people. I love the texture of leaves, trees rocks… You name it!

– Exploring my surroundings and finding beautiful new places (nope, not been a given at all! New things and places can freak me out!)

This place is like a 20 minute walk from home. Took me a year to have the courage to go find the place.
 

– Sang infront of a group of people. All sober. In daylight. Didn’t pass out. I think I found myself a new hobby!

– Followed my intuition telling me, I should try to get to know one person better. This one sort of backfired in some ways, but I’m still proud of myself for speaking out this time, instead of bottling that thought in.  I mean, if new places and things are scary, how about people then!! 

– I’m enjoying jogging. What the f? I have always hated jogging. Now I need to stop myself so I won’t overdo it. Perhaps I have finally realized, I don’t have to taste blood when running, for it to count as exercise. 

Generally that annoying voice inside my head telling me I can’t be this and that, can’t do this and that or can’t say this and that, is quiet more often than it used to be. It’s exciting, but admittedly a little scary at times too!

I may follow my intuition more freely these days, but my ego still likes to play the drama queen when something doesn’t go exactly according to plan. 

I’ll keep on my chosen path towards happiness and perhaps the ego will soon hush up for good.

Happiness boost: find like-minded people

I told before that one of my first babysteps to being happier was to attend a writing course. Little did I know what inspiring people and stories I would find due to that course…

There was this girl on my course (I say girl even if we are both somewhere in our 30’s) who was a brilliant writer and a slightly quirky character that seemed to appeal to me. When she suggested setting up a writer’s group, I jumped right in – even though strangers tend to freak me out – let alone when the other people seem to know one another from before. There was a pause in our meetings as life took us to different paths, but we sort of revived the group this spring.

We got together again a few weeks back and these people feel strangely like home to me, even if I don’t know them from that far back! 

They all do insanely inspiring things, that encourages me to keep going with my projects. But they also give great insight into daily happenings in life, not to mention the excellent food we have been eating lately in our get-togethers.

After our evenings I always feel energized and inspired by these amazing people, there’s no better happiness boost than that.  Not to mention the great book and podcast tips shared!

You can be inspired aswell:

https://findinghazelhawthorne.com/

https://aatteinen.wordpress.com/

Being inspired brings sunshine to my life

Weekly tip: Have a “happy” movie

Those days that make you feel defeated for any number of reasons. It is not always so obvious why on some days you can handle a lot more stress than on others. 

I’m not sure if this will work on really life altering news, but it has worked on heartbreak, on stress, on being picked on, on those days when the world seems too insane to handle.

My tip to you is: have a “happy movie”. Like with the power song, it doesn’t have to be anything artsy, oscar winning etc. For husband it’s apparently Clint Eastwood westerns (yeah, you figure that one out) and for me it’s such classics as Clueless or Bring it on or Devil wears Prada (I thinks he’s still figuring these ones out 😂)

I tend to navigate to these types of silly/ish relationship comedies with leading ladies. Nothing to overload my brain you see!

What’s your go-to happy movie like? Do you have any to begin with or does this sound just plain weird?

Being a Human Entity

As it happens, in my line of business we talk a lot about entities, and as work is giving somewhat of a headache at the moment, I started wondering about me as a being. 

Not saying work is all bad; view from hotel window while on a business trip

I can see a definite decline in my ability to keep up my happiness habits during the month of March AND April, the ones I’ve acquired so far. Not to mention establishing new ones. 

Establishing habits is hard work

I’m partially putting this down to not keeping up with my gratitude notebook habit. I had a monstruous tummy bug twice in March, and I sort of fell out of every routine I had. I think it only goes to show, that establishing new habits really does take time to become fixed routines that will not be affected when life is throwing stuff at you. 

Getting back to the routine after being sick was tricky first because of a business trip and later because shit basically hit the fan at work, and it has been pretty chaotic since then.

Is going with the flow my thing?

Why crappy stuff at work made me think about me and my happiness, is because of this: 

somehow I seem to be reacting to this situation with far more emotion than most. I am not the only one affected, but I certainly seem to be the most annoyed. I feel sorry for others for having to put up with the situation and I can’t help feeling sad for losing co-workers in the process, even if no one is really losing a job. For all I know, they might not even care that much. Some perhaps even welcome the change. But that doesn’t fix the way I’m feeling, nor expedite my getting out of this funk. 

Perhaps the easier way for me (or anyone for that matter) would be to just “go with the flow”. I’ve been given this advice before and many times I try to follow it. But it also feels like a contradiction with my core of existence. In some ways I want to be allowed to be angry and sad and disappointed. This is not like complaining about weather conditions or bad tv selection. 

Then again. 

Is this what my core is really like?

I certainly realize, it’s not helping me with anything. Is being angry and sad and disappointed just something I have learned through the years to expect of myself, perhaps what others expect me to be like.

I want to expect of myself more positive thinking and seeing the silver lining in things. Like I have written before, more often than not I am able to do so these days. 

It’s just that when something “big” happens, that is not necessarily positive in nature, it still shakes me up pretty bad. Perhaps it just takes time for my bouncing back routine to become faster?

Learning to be positive

At least Gretchen Rubin is giving me some hope, while smashing happiness myths, about how our genetic predisposition doesn’t have to be the end of all things happy. 

Obviously I am leaning more towards that Eeyore type genetically. But by just some months of concentrating on what could bring me joy in everyday life, I indeed have become happier.  But boy this journey is going to be a long one!
Would love to hear your surviving methods on generally dealing with the uncertainty, the things that really are out of your hands. 

When do you think it’s ok to feel sad, angry and disappointed?

Be happier in the now

I guess it’s sort of the point of my whole year of happiness – to be happier in my everyday life. 

But in the past weeks I had some new realizations about this. 

First was a discussion with my sister-in-law who commended me on my energy to go walking, go to a diy concrete course, organize our apartment… I think I was so baffled I wasn’t able to answer anything in the moment, but it did start a thought process in my head. 

One: being able to do all the above mentioned things are greatly due to family members. 

Having a husband who is happy to take care of the kids, so I can “do my own thing” is pretty damn valuable. We are also lucky to have most of both our families and friends living in the same city with us. Those are the pair of extra helping hands when we just remember to reach out. 

Two: being able to do and also doing above mentioned own things boosts my energy. Those are the little (or big?) extras that make life just that bit more enjoyable. When you find that something you like to do, it’s not a chore, it’s a huge joy! For me, these diy courses have proven to be a great source of joy – especially having two of my very dear friends there with me to share the experience!

Not a 100% success, but making it was still a joy!

Remember, 

not everything you do to be happier has to be mind-blowingly huge. 

If you have been dreaming of a beautiful garden – start with planting one flower. Any start is a start. If you think exercising would make you happier – start with doing something once a week. Or if you work at an office, start with taking the stairs instead of the lift / elevator. In a high-rise, perhaps it’s possible to get off the lift a few storeys too soon. I mean it, any start is a start.

Grandparenting

Another thing that led me to thinking about happiness in the now have been articles I’ve read about grandparents, who want nothing to do with their grandkids. And the reason for this? “I have brought up my own kids already and now it’s my turn to enjoy my life!” 

Oh how sad that makes me. I mean, they are entitled to feel like they are feeling, and I am sure they have deserved a break. But in this day and age, where the official retirement year in my age group is something like 2050, 

I would really hope to start enjoying my life before I retire. 

Our kids have a special relationship with all grandparents (we have truly won this lottery and have 6 different people we can count towards this group) and I think their lives would be so much less without them. 

Junior has an especially strong bond with my hubby’s dad, because when he was a baby, they drove around together in a car a lot (desperate times, desperate measures – check my bio for the background on this) and Junior somehow just knows that. 

Our Princess is a bit older and is already able to appreciate different things in different people (well, in the family matriarchs mainly – she’s a bit afraid of men these days 😳) 

I am so grateful the grandparents in our kids lives do not feel that spending time with our kids is too exhausting or demanding. And I fully intend to start living my life so that I don’t have to reach retirement to enjoy my life.

Waving February goodbye

Posting this late due to a stomach bug wrecking havock in my family…

Really? Already?


In touch with my inner… something!

I’m not at all sure I have been successful with my February resolutions. I feel like I’m not getting the tracker boxes ticked as  often as I would like, being a golden star lover that I am. 

On the other hand, I think I am already feeling the results of my happiness project.

It doesn’t mean that I am a 100% pure sunshine 100% of the time. I’m still tired, cranky and complaining on occasion. 

But more often than not, I can see the silver lining. I am more grateful and perhaps just slightly braver in speaking out my opinions.

 All this just makes me somehow more balanced and in return, more forgiving to my surroundings. That is definitely something for a person whose motto for years has been: “Think negative and you will not be disappointed!”

How about those resolutions then

I wrote before, that I had pretty much bitten off more than I could chew for February’s relationship resolutions. I decided I should go back to the very basics and ended up with this list:

  • Date nights
  • Kiss in the morning, kiss in the night
  • No calculation
  • No dumping
  • Do not expect praise

I’m not even sure anymore, but I think some of them came from Gretchen Rubin’s 21-day-project and some are from her book. In any case, all others than date nights are Rubin’s ideas. 

No dumping

I think the resolutions have lifted the spirits of our whole household at least on some levels. Even though I can’t always follow the “no dumping” -resolution, I am especially careful not to complain to hubby when he is out enjoying a (quite rare) night out with friends. There was a time I used to text shout at him all the little things going wrong (in my opinion) while I was home alone with the kids. Being perfectly aware he will not be able to help, and actually doesn’t have to either.

There is definitely a line between being vindictive and asking help when you have actual problems. So I still might call to get him home, if I happen to fall ill when he’s away, but I will keep from texting every hour because the kids happen to be in a funky mood.

No praise, no calculation

This brings me to the resolutions “no calculation” and “do not expect praise”. I get ample time to go out with friends, to courses, to writing, you name it. Even so, sometimes I feel like I have a slight disadvantage compared to husband, because I need so much more sleep. If it’s my turn to put the kids to bed, I will have no “me-time”. 

I think I’ve been expecting to be praised about the fact what a trooper I am to survive without my me-time, while hubby is out. Even if we divide the nights either equally or – most of the time – to my favour.

From the no dumping to the no calculation, I have realized how dumping the going-ons of the house to my hubby, when he is out, only really spoils the evening for us both. He will have spent the night away, coming back home propably twice as irritated. When the whole point is to let him have his “me-time” so I’ll get a more relaxed hubby home. And I will feel guilty about spoiling his night just about the second after I’ve sent the angry messages (did I ever mention I have really poor impulse control??).

I have made some calculations after all, but only to help me realize how much help I actually am getting from my husband ❤ 

Keeping up with the kisses and date nights

You know what, it does help to remember these little kisses to keep your relationship alive. 

It’s a tiniest moment of appreciation. You take that five seconds from your busy schedule (oh believe me, our mornings can be very hectic at times…) to kiss your partner instead of shouting from afar an absent-minded “bye”. Sad but true, I hadn’t paid attention to this in a long time.

We’ve been pretty good about the date nights too. Sometimes just running some errands, sometimes eating out. Just learning to be a couple instead of always just being a mum and dad 😉 

I have now grown to love these resolutions, because they have made me so much more appreciative of what I have. Perhaps I should interview Husband to figure out if he’s actually noticed any changes (have you, hon?)

In March I will try to have some discoveries about my relationship with our kids. Scary.