“You don’t find the happy life, you make it.” Thomas S. Monson
I have been thinking a lot about happiness the last couple of days. I decided to join my husband on a small walk to check the mail yesterday. As we were walking back home he made a comment about how I seem to be happier lately and smile more. He asked me what had changed. I told him that I really didn’t know and he replied, whatever it is, keep doing it.
The problem is that I am really not sure that anything has changed. I feel like I could blame most of my sadness and struggles on hormones. Probably mostly even on that time of the month. But that’s a whole different conversation. I think when I am not struggling with hormones it’s so much easier to see the positive things in life. I can’t even explain how excited I am for this new year. I have big dreams, but I think the biggest part of my excitement is the personal development that I am working on. I am making some changes in my life physically and spiritually this year. I am reading “self help” books which I think is a really big part of it. These kinds of books are the ones that motivate you to better yourself. As I read them I feel like I can see the areas that I want to improve and then I am given strategies to help me make those changes. It seems easy to pick out the things that we don’t like about ourselves. It’s not so easy to know how to change those things that we want to improve on. There are a lot of good books out there and I would be happy to share with you my journey and the things that I learn a long the way.
Ok, this is where things got interesting. I was in the middle of writing about the quote at the top and essentially choosing to be happy and my thoughts went in a completely different direction. This is still a little bit of a confusing topic for me though. I have had people talk to me about the aspect of making a choice to be happy. My husband and I just had a big conversation of it. I do think that sometimes happiness is really a choice. In my current thoughts, and maybe one day as I am working on this personal development stuff, my thoughts will be changed, I think that sometimes, your head can be in a place where you just can’t focus on the positive because you are down to far to see anything but the negative. For me depression is a real thing and I feel like when someone is struggling with depression, telling them just to be happy, think good thoughts, things like that, just won’t work. What I share next is a very personal experience. Something that I know that other people have struggled with to different degrees. I want people to know that this is an ok thing to talk about. To find people that they can reach out to who understand because they have been there too.
A very special lady to me recently passed away. She was special to me for more than just the reason that I have known her since I was a young child. A few years ago I went through a very dark time. I struggled so much with feelings of inadequacies, feeling like my family would be better off without me. I did not like my life. I hated the way I felt all the time. I felt like I just had no control over anything. This lady came back into my life at this time and she talked to me on a few different occasions. She was the one that told me that it is ok to talk to my doctor about going on medication for depression. She helped me understand that sometimes we need help. She helped to take away some of the negative feelings that I had associated with depression and medication. I can relate it to another part of my life and it makes a great comparison. I have learned that I am anemic. Several times I have gone to the doctors and been told to go on an iron supplement to help my body get the iron that it can’t seem to get on its own. In my head there was nothing wrong with that. It was just medicine that was needed to help me not feel so exhausted all of the time, that would help me be healthier. I realized, with some help from others, that medication for depression is the same thing. For some people are bodies don’t produce enough of what we need to be happy. We can feel tired, and struggle to do day to day things that would be easy for other people. This includes seeing the positive things in life. There is something that can help us to make life manageable. Help us deal with the things that would otherwise, to us, seem overwhelming.
The next lesson I had to learn is that sometimes (probably even often) things aren’t easy, short term fixes. When I first started medication, I told myself “this is just temporary, help me get back on my feet”. I didn’t want to admit that it was something that I could need long term. Well then that iron problem came back to teach me another lesson. After a couple of years of working with my doctor with my iron levels, he told me that I had two choices. I could either continue with what I had been doing, blood work to tell me my iron was low, supplements for a few months, blood work to check my iron levels, off of iron supplements for a few months, blood work, back on iron supplements. Or I could just choose to go on iron supplements for the rest of my life. Let me tell you, I have a huge fear of needles. I know it’s all in my head, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s there. So, naturally I chose to just do supplements for the rest of my life. I have, in the last 3 years gong back and forth trying to tell myself that I thought I was ready to come off the medication, slowly worked my way down to the low dose just to realize that I wasn’t where I needed to be. I have been surprised though how I have learned the signs and feelings I get as I better understand my body and what it needs. As that has happened I have learned that for now, it looks like medication is long term for me. Now I am ok with that. I know what it does for me and I know that I don’t like the person I am (especially to my family) without it. My husband always seems to get the worst of it too. Good thing he is so patient with me. 😊
I have to say that when I first started writing this blog, this is not where I intended to go. I guess the purpose to it now is that, if there is anyone reading this who is really struggling with feelings of being overwhelmed. Something that lasts more than just a couple of weeks. I know from personal experience that it is a really good idea to go talk to your doctor. They will help you with different options until you find what is best for you. For some people, maybe all you need is a good friend to vent to. For some, it might be a professional counselor that will help you work through some of the feelings that you are struggling with. For some, medication will be what is needed, and that is OK.
Life is hard, but the good thing is, we don’t have to do it alone. I wanted to end with this last quote. No matter the struggles or failures we go through, there is another day tomorrow to try again. We can learn from experiences and use those experiences to help others.
“One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final.” Thomas S. Monson