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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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?