Firstly, I’d like to ask you to bear with me on what I know is a controversial, sometimes offensive, and often frustrating statement.
Telling someone with depression to ‘just be happy’ is the equivalent of telling someone with insomnia to just go to sleep, or telling someone with a broken leg to just stop the bone being broken. It just does not work that way. Every article that suggests one can ‘cure’ their mental illness by choosing not to have it is wrong, and there is no question of that. Reading such things has always frustrated me beyond belief, and I just want to get across that this is not one of those articles.
You may have read before that I have, and still do, struggle with my mental health. This past year has been particularly difficult, and the more time that passes with it still being such an issue, the more I want to do something about it. I’ve been in treatment for years but haven’t quite cracked it, and I’m beginning to realise that hoping it goes away and gets better by itself just isn’t going to happen. I have come to realise that to make a difference to my health and wellbeing, I need to make changes.
As much as I’d love there to be a ‘cure’, there just isn’t one. There are, however, ways to drastically improve your day to day wellbeing, but not surprisingly, there isn’t just a pill you can take to do so. It takes perseverance, continued work, and not surprisingly, effort. It’s going to take a change of lifestyle and a change in mindset, which is exactly what I’m working on. I’ve come to realise that the answer for me is, despite me pushing back against the phrase for years, to choose happiness.
In choosing happiness, I am not just going to magically switch off the mental issues I struggle with. I know I can’t choose for them to disappear, in the same way I am not choosing for them to be there.
I am however, making a conscious choice to allow recovery. I am choosing to not just take the easiest path. I am choosing to take all the measures I can to give myself the best chance I possibly have at feeling good.
I am choosing to get enough sleep, exercise daily and eat a balanced diet, because I know a healthier body gives me a better chance at feeling happier.
I am choosing to get up in the mornings and get on with the day, and not lay in bed and hide from the world, even when that feels like the easier option.
I am choosing to try new things even when they seem scary. I am choosing to go to new places and spend time with people, even when it feels like it would be far easier to stay home.
I am choosing to write daily, even when I can’t find the right words, because I know that a creative outlet is good for my mind.
As much as I’d love to, I am not choosing to wake up tomorrow and be magically happy. I am however choosing to give myself the best chance I can at getting there.