This is a question that is close to my heart. Happiness is something I have been striving for, for a really long time, but as far as I’m concerned, this question doesn’t have a simple answer.
For me, it depends entirely on the situation.
Overall, I am happy, the majority of the time and this is a conscious choice I have made and continually worked on to sustain, but some days are harder than others. Every morning I wake up and while I am still dozing, I mentally remind myself of the things I am grateful for and why I’m excited to be alive. For the most part, this sets me up for a good day. Some days, I get annoyed or sad about things, but can generally avoid falling into a funk by reminding myself of how lucky I am, or how miniscule the issue is in the grand scheme of things. For those of you who follow me on Instagram or Facebook you will have noticed that I post of lot of ‘inspirational quotes’. These get me through minor setbacks and sometimes I post them just because. Unfortunately however, there are days where no amount of gratitude, positive affirmations or cute animal videos are going to change my mood.
And that’s ok. But try telling me that while I’m in one of those moods!
I get annoyed by silly little things. Like someone moving my paperwork off the printer while I’m still printing more, or worse, someone telling me how to do my job! These things I have control over how they affect me. I can choose to let the annoyance spread and be in a foul mood for the rest of the day, or I can choose to recognise them as they are, minor ‘pet peeves’ that realistically should have no bearing over my state of mind for the day. What’s the point in being unhappy because someone put my stapler in the wrong place? Something I wish I had learned sooner.
As I mentioned above, I have days where I just can’t seem to be happy. These days are a bit of a catch 22, as I get annoyed at myself for being annoyed (or upset), which puts me in a worse mood, which kicks off a vicious cycle that only seems to be cured by going to bed and usually miraculously waking up in a great mood. We all have days like that, it’s just one of those things and you know what? It’s okay. On these days, I dislike the Katie who is positive and happy. What does she know about choosing happiness over anger or sadness? Obviously she is wrong, why else would this bad mood be clouding over me so heavily right now? I’m glad these mood swings are now few and far between, but they did used to be the norm for me.
When I was depressed, I was rarely happy and I had absolutely no control over my emotions. If I managed to laugh it would usually be quickly replaced by tears, but when asked why, I couldn’t explain it. Glimmers of hope and happiness would often peek up into my head only to be shot down by negative thoughts telling me how ridiculous I was being. I was jealous of anyone who appeared happy and I’m pretty sure I would have come across as very bitter towards most people.
I don’t know why. That is just how I was. And for the longest time when I first started feeling this way, I didn’t think it was a problem. I assumed it was how I was wired. I had been a pretty angry child who cried a lot, clearly, that was who I was supposed to be and nothing anyone said could convince me otherwise. Depression was allegedly uncommon back then and I’m not even sure I had heard of it until not long before I was diagnosed. And when I was diagnosed, I wasn’t offered a lot of solutions (I also didn’t think to ask), so I was medicated and sent on my way.
I was told to ‘get over it’ so many times. I lost friends because I was so negative and always complaining. For a while I used my depression as an excuse. I didn’t know enough about it, or how to take steps to become mentally well, so I hid behind it. I remember asking an ex if the medication helped me, years after we broke up. He responded that personally, he hadn’t noticed a difference. The only difference I noticed was that I physically couldn’t cry anymore. I’m not sure why and it’s not something I’ve experienced since. Looking back, I think the medication took the edge off, but I should have been seeking other forms of help too, like I am now.
Last year, after The Day That Changed My Life, I decided that I wanted to be happy. So I took steps towards it. But I had to hit my rock bottom to make that decision. I wasn’t capable of choosing to be happy before that and honestly, I didn’t want to be. Happiness wasn’t easy. It was so much easier to be angry at the world and spend my days crying. Happiness took work, which I wasn’t willing to do. Lazing around and feeling sorry for myself took much less effort and for any of my readers who have experienced depression themselves, they will know that energy to do anything other than the bare minimum required to survive can be non existent during a depressive state.
Ultimately, I feel that happiness became a choice for me after a long road of battling negative emotions. I want to be happy now and for the most part, I am. I will continue to share inspirational quotes and positive affirmations, because they help me maintain my happiness and I like to think that they brighten other peoples days too. I take steps everyday, even on my negative days, to try and see the silver linings and good in life and this is something I had to learn.
Do I ‘regret’ being depressed for so long? No. If I had never experienced this depression, I would not be the person I am today. Nothing in life worth having comes easy and for me, dragging myself from the depths of my depression was hard work and will continue to be for the rest of my life, but it makes me proud to know that I have overcome such a hurdle and ‘chosen’ happiness.
Smiles and Sunshine