Just keep swimming.
i used to believe that happiness wasn't a choice, more so just an outcome of being a bit more fortunate than others. unfortunate times can be a true test of our souls and can also be some of the most instructive moments of our lives. some people have never experienced depression, some people have never experienced contentment. i can say that i'm a bit familiar with both.
a couple of years ago i hit rock bottom. the woman i spent damn near 5 years with and truly thought i was gonna marry decided that the spark was no longer there and left me. kicked me to the curb and booted me out of her crib. your boy was devastated. shattered. essentially i felt i had nowhere to go.. i wasn't wanted back at home, i had no job, no money, no car, no phone, and i was thousands of dollars in debt. i began to notice that one by one, each of my "closest friends" began to drop like flies and cut me off. at most times i had nothing to do besides dwell on how shitty life was becoming. i'd go days without eating a real meal, basically became a burden to everyone i associated with. in most cases it would cost money to hang out with me, i was merely an expense. some nights i slept in a little league baseball dugout, some nights i had to sneak my way into my moms house to get some rest and leave by the time she woke up. most nights i didn't sleep at all. i was losing weight, and more importantly i was losing my mind. i was depressed and i became suicidal. i had absolutely no true desire to continue my life. the summer of 2014 changed my entire perspective on life and if i could go back to change it for the better, i wouldn't change a damn thing.
just a couple days ago my mom texted me and asked "how are you?", i respond with "i've been better, also been worse.. i guess i can't complain".. there's a theory in psychology research that suggests we all have a "happiness set-point", basically determining our overall well-being. we swing back and forth around this set-point, becoming happier when something positive happens or the opposite, afterwards returning back to it. our general mood levels and well-being are partially determined by factors like genetics, upbringing, social status- although roughly 40% of our happiness is within our own control. research in the field of positive psychology has shown that happiness is a choice that anyone can make; you just have to start by wanting to do it first. you've heard the saying "a little bit of effort can go a long way.." right? easier said than done, right? i'm not writing this to give a life story. i'm not writing this seeking your pity. i'm not writing this seeking your admiration. i'm writing this to give a few tips/pointers on how to at least try to get out of depression. to at least try to seek contentment.
first things first; speak up.
it may feel impossible to explain to someone the helpless feelings you have inside. it may feel pointless to even discuss it. i used to tell myself that no person nor therapist/dr. can tell me anything that i haven't already told myself in my own head. you need to know that you are not the only one who is suffering. there's a million paths to recovery and each persons is different. whether it be self-help groups, speaking to a clinician, medication, tweeting/blogging, or simply just speaking to loved ones; it’s important to share your feelings. explaining your condition and symptoms will help those around you, even yourself, understand what it is you’re actually going through. depression is an extremely serious issue and i wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy. major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year. 50% of Americans with major depression do not seek treatment for the mental illness. speak. up.
secondly; make happiness your number 1 goal.
take advantage of every last opportunity to smile. reprogram your beliefs and values, form a sense of self discipline. choose to place yourself in environments and be around people that will increase your probability of being happy. you will not find happiness doing the same stuff that you were doing while depressed. you truly have to start by wanting to do it first. practice gratitude, self-discipline and compassion. those who become the happiest and grow the most are those who also make their own personal growth one of their primary values.
third, linger on to positive moments.
our brains have this funny way of scouting for everything and anything thats going wrong in our lives, it's like a magnet for negative experiences and a riot shield for positive ones. this negative bias can cause the brain to react severely to bad news compared to how lightly it responds to good news.. counter that bias, appreciate and linger on to those positive moments no matter how big or small they may be. grasp every last one of them and allow them to make you smile.
fourth, re-develop your sense of gratitude. give thanks.
our lives are filled with incredible gifts that we tend to more-so than not take for granted. we complain that our lives aren't better. we constantly compare ourselves to those that seem to be doing better than us. be grateful; you have life. be grateful for your health if you have it. you may not have perfect health but you have legs to walk on. you may not have legs to walk on but you have eyes to enjoy the sight of the sunset. you may not have eyes to visualize beauty but you have a nose to smell the flowers. you may not have a sense of smell but you have functioning ears to hear your favorite music. think about how incredible it is that we have computers, smart phones, video games. you have a roof over your head, a home, good food, books to read, gorgeous nature all around you, people who love you. all of this and yet we take it for granted. you may not have all of this but surely you have a bunch to be grateful for.
lastly, just keep swimming.
it will get better, but only if you allow it to. i promise you that. the brain is a much more powerful tool than you may think. life is way too short to dwell, life is also way too long to dwell.. you catching my drift? even through rough times, just know that there's more to life than what you're going through at that particular moment. optimism is a major key.
thank you for reading and if you ever need anyone to talk to; contact me on Twitter @redcbw.
it may sound like i'm rambling but these are just some scattered thoughts.
- a man that rediscovered his smile.