Saturday, May 9, 2009

the pursuit of happiness

My happiness is a work in progress. I’ve struggled with depression since I was a teenager, hit rock bottom in my early 20s just when life seemed to be giving me everything I’d ever wanted, used medication, found it didn’t have all the answers, had a baby and teetered on the edge of the abyss again, used medication again just to keep my head above water, had another baby and fell so far into the abyss I thought I might never get out, used medication as a lifeline and eventually realised that there had to be more to it than that.

So here I am, more than 18 months after pushing aside the medication option and putting everything I had into the alternative. I’ve learned more about myself in that time than I knew going into it, and while I still have my bad days, they are much less frequent and when they come I am ready for them.

I work at my happiness now, but as time goes on it takes less and less conscious effort. There are things that I know will make me happy, and not in a superficial way. They make my soul happy, and stave off the blackness. It feels like the happier my soul is, the more resistant it is to the blackness. It’s multiple coats of Teflon, every colour of the rainbow. Sometimes it helps to make a list:

1. Go outside. Feel the sun, or the wind or the rain as the case may be, on your face. It’s called nature and some days it’s your best friend.
2. Put some music on. Dance. Sing if you know the words.
3. Learn the words. To anything - Somewhere Over the Rainbow, My Favourite Things, Morningtown Ride - and sing them. Loud.
4. Write it down. All of it.

Next week I’m going to a conference in Sydney called Happiness and Its Causes, mainly because when I saw the flyer for it some months ago I just knew I had to get there somehow. So now I’m going, and I don't want to leave my family for two days and two nights but I have a feeling I will not regret it. Part of me is still frightened by the world out there but I’m on the journey now and there is no going back. Enduring stress to find happiness? Let’s just say it’s par for the course.

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