I Am In Charge of How I Feel (Except When I'm Not)

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While cleaning out pictures in my phone the other day, I came across one of those little notes of encouragement that I often see on Instagram and Facebook. It was this message:

I AM IN CHARGE OF HOW I FEEL AND TODAY I AM CHOOSING HAPPINESS

happiness

Image: Candie_N via Flickr

At the time that I saved it, I thought it would be helpful. I understand its message. We all face difficulties, but we determine how we react and how it affects us. As we like to toss around at work, we “carry our own weather,” which can be sunny or stormy. So I tried to keep that in mind. I kept it where I could see it (on my phone’s lock screen) and when faced with problems I reminded myself to choose happiness!

So why did it feel like I was faking? Because sometimes I was. Sometimes, I’m not in control of my feelings and thoughts. That was especially true as of late. When issues began piling up on me—money, family, career, money, health, money—I started spiraling. Over the past year or so, I’ve been proud of the fact that I’ve been able to manage my depression. There were a few ups and downs, sure, but I felt like I was hiding it well. Control the crazy, I’d tell myself. But over the last several weeks I wasn’t controlling it as well as I thought I was.

I was drinking more. I was withdrawn. Even though I was saying “I love you,” my actions and attitude were pushing my significant other away. Nothing felt like it was worth it; I didn’t feel like life was worth living. Giving up seemed like the only real option I had. And when ending it didn’t work, I felt like a bigger failure than before.

I’d tried choosing happiness; why wasn’t it choosing me?! Why couldn’t I make the smile I’d plastered on my face be genuine? Why was it that even when I tried to see the positive I felt overwhelmed by the negative?

The problem wasn’t that I wasn’t trying. It’s that, when dealing with severe depression and anxiety, trying by itself doesn’t work. Hell, I knew that! As often as I’ve played the part of happy-go-lucky Superwoman, only to crash and burn, I should’ve realizing that it was going to take more than just willpower. Maybe I’d fooled myself into believing I was better, I dunno.

This most recent experience has made me come clean. I nervously apologized and confessed my issues to my significant other. He’s been supportive and understanding, which gives him major points in my book! And I opened up to my bestie, who is in the mental health field and would be an ideal therapist if she wasn’t my friend. But fortunately she had referrals so that I can get good, consistent help. But most importantly I had to come clean with myself about who and what I am and am not.

I am not a horrible, negative person.

I cannot handle my depression alone.

When I am in charge of how I feel, I will still choose happiness.

When I’m not in charge, I will choose help.

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