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.

January Ran Off!

One of my leading principles in becoming happier is “less whining”. I want to learn how to “let go” of things and usually complaining tends to make things only bigger in our eyes.

But I am still going to have to be honest and tell you why I wasn’t super-successful with my January resolutions. It’s propably healthy for any reader intrested in their own happiness project to understand that sometimes life just won’t flow the way you planned it to, but you still don’t have to throw in the towel!

Number 1 habit to track: play with kids.

I don’t know why this seems so hard to me. I love talking to my kids (especially our five-year-old has an amazing imagination and vocabulary to go with that), I love reading to them, going out with them… It’s not that I don’t spend time with the kids, but this type of playing that I mean here (think The incredible years) just does not come naturally to me.

Winter in Helsinki. You never know what you gonna get.

The goal is to spend at least fifteen minutes (minumum requirement) playing with the kids without interruptions, but especially on weekdays it just feels like a stretch. This is somewhat of a dilemma, because not playing with our kids makes me feel bad, but playing with them just feels like another day at work on top of the one I just came home from.

I don’t know if this makes any sense to anyone – but playing with horses or cars or fairies just feels weird! At least I realize what the situation is like and try to answer “yes” more enthusiastically when either of our kids suggest playing something. Junior of course is sort of easy: he is two years old, not as verbal as his sister, and loves to play with cars. To him the best thing is, when mummy (or daddy) is laying on the sofa so he can use the legs as highways for his cars!

The weeks I was in bed rest though were of course not successful at all and might be one of the reasons this has not become a habit yet. I only wonder how on earth does one make oneself more playful, when one is just… Not? All tips on this are more than welcome.

I will be following Gretchen Rubin’s month of ‘be serious about play’ for sure…

Number 2: SLEEP

I think I was a bit arrogant when it comes to sleeping, thinking I have already taken all the necessary steps towards better sleep. I go to bed early and sleep for 8 hours. Of course the kids wake us up on a regular basis, but that is not something I can control.

What I realized I wasn’t doing: putting my phone away early enough. Even though I use a filter and try to avoid reading bad news in the evenings – I’m a worrier so reading those news stresses me out even during the best of days – you can get badly stuck in a flow of Instagram photos just to mention an example.

As a conclusion, for February, I will switch my phone peering nights to some breathing exercises and a book. A book always has a natural place where you can stop reading and continue later, whereas a social media feed is endless.

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Switching my Instagram browsing for an intresting book.

Number 4: Exercise

Being out of commission three out of four weeks didn’t exactly do much for furthering my exercise efforts. I had quite a steady rythm where I went to the gym twice a week and to aerial yoga once or twice a week.

I would be quite happy with those numbers, if I wasn’t doing an office job sitting on my bum most of the days eight hours a day. Well then. I hired me a personal trainer for 10 meetings! I met her last Friday and she already had a lot of amazing tips and hints. And she only worked with me for 50 minutes. Ten times 50 minutes = a lot of knowledge. Perhaps I was a bit arrogant on this point aswell, thinking I already had all the answers and only lacked the execution. I think the work with my  new personal trainer will merit a post of its own. We will wait and see.

Meanwhile I want to give you a reading tip: Ellen from being-change.com has written a thought-provoking piece on exercising right. I agree that when looking for ways to make exercise a routine that is actually fun we should think about what exercising right means for each and everyone of us.

Number 6: Last but not least. Write. 

I think in the past I might have just been upset about the fact I had to stay in bed for days on end not being able to do anything. Well this year I decided to be grateful for the fact that for once I had time to write, and ponder, and research andandand! I have trouble napping even when I’m really sick. So I always do something – watch the Netflix or read a book… But this time I spent a majority of my hours in bed writing things. On the blog, in my journal and so on. What can I say except even bed rest has it’s perks!

All in all I think it’s the mindshift from not actively thinking about what actually makes you happy, to actively trying to figure out what habits are the ones you need to change, that has made the  biggest impact during January.

I have struggled a little with my project the past weeks due to illness, but I hope I will get you up to date on my January resolutions and how I’m doing with them this weekend.

Today I was reading the news about Trump’s inauguration and suddenly had a really strong urge to think happier thoughts.

So that in mind, here’s a quote for this weekend!

“All you have to do is to pay attention; lessons always arrive when you are ready…”

Paulo Coelho, The Zahir