Posted by: jedwardswright | January 13, 2011

Waiting to Be Happy

 I lived life for years and years waiting for certain things to happen so I could be happy.

I was going to be happy when:

  • the kids were out of diapers
  • I finished school
  • the credit cards were paid off
  • I got the job that I wanted
  • the kids were in school

 …and the list went on. There was always something else ahead of me that was going to be the magic key to happiness.

Why wasn’t I happy, really? I needed

  • to find the right medical treatment for my depression.
  • to realize that my (former) marriage was not going to get better when…but needed a sincere effort by two people, not just one.
  • to understand that it was always a good thing to pursue having a healthier life.
  • to redefine success in terms of personal fulfillment and peace of mind instead of what I owned or the opinion of others.
  • to stop staying as busy as humanly possible in an effort to run from my problems.
  • to set a higher standard for how I was going to be treated by the people in my life, and believe that I deserved to be loved.
  • to replace my negative thoughts with positive ones.
  • to find ways to contribute to the world, to try to make a difference, so that I could find purpose and meaning in my life.
  • Finally — religious content ahead — I had to find out that my faith, Christianity, wasn’t about rules and guilt, but about love and freedom.

Obviously, I am very much a work in progress when it comes to some of these points. I still catch myself fussing over what others think of me, or mulling over how misunderstood I feel. Those dang negative thoughts tend to bounce around my brain like Ping-Pong balls unless I make a conscious effort to reshape them into positive statements about myself and my situation. Also, my contributions in life seem grossly inadequate to me. (There’s another negative thought to chase down!)

Finally, I need to continually turn to the source of my faith, God, in prayer, meditation, and Bible reading, to define what it means to be a Christian, because too often I let others dictate my beliefs and behaviors in unhealthy ways. I could be a lot more consistent in seeking Him. I’m sure it would save me a lot of grief.

 For people with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), the first thing is always to get medical assistance for our medical condition. Still, I have found that abandoning my “someday” mindset, and adopting a more proactive attitude has improved the quality of my life considerably. Some days it is all we can do to get out of bed, I know, but even baby steps toward making our lives better now, rather than waiting on some distant future, can make a difference. Reaching out to seek the help you need today would be a good start.

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Responses

  1. Hi! Im on the same journey to find ‘happiness’ and i agree it is not in the past or future but how we view things in the present. I use meditation as a tool to make me aware of the present and its been great for me so far! You begin to learn yourself on a whole different level! It can be hard to make at least 30 min for ourselves in peace and quite but i have found that if i meditate on a regular basis my mind is calmer and i feel more at peace. Good Luck on your journey!

    • Meditation and/or prayer has been proven to improve health in a number of medical studies, and so there is every reason to believe that it is beneficial for depression. This sounds like a good topic for a future blog, so thank you for your input!

  2. It’s so reassuring to know that I’m not the only one who thought fixing the external things would fix the internal problems.

    • I am glad that you can identify!
      Until I was on the correct medication, I wasn’t really able to deal with my external or internal issues well. Even when counseling was pointing the way, I couldn’t see myself or my life clearly enough to make good decisions. More often than not, I dealt with that by making no decisions at all, and my passivity just made things worse.
      Medical treatment allowed me to take control of my life — bit by bit, and the process continues!


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