When you are depressed finding happiness is the last thing you think you will ever achieve. It has been almost 20 years since my battle began and I honestly believed for half that time that I was unworthy of happiness, that happiness didn’t really exist. The belief that I didn’t deserve to be happy became so strong that I quit looking for it. Over time, happiness became an enigma like beauty, something I could adorn myself with but never truly possess.
Wrestling With The Darkness
Depression swallowed me whole. My entire life changed over the span of a few months. At first I believed I could overcome, that this was just a blip in my life, but as the years progressed I believed the brief moments in-between were as good as life would get for me. Unhappiness became my way of life, not just a mood or a moment.
My thinking shifted, which I rationalised was attributed to maturity. I found myself believing that I didn’t deserve better. Because I had always been told that life was hard, I just thought I was now discovering the true essence of how hard life really was. Life around me seemed to be one big lie that everyone bought into, happiness was not really an option for anyone, especially of all me.
I believed life was hard, happiness was an illusion, and I didn’t deserve to be happy. My relationships suffered, my friendships were torn apart, and I held fast the idea of mediocrity. Self-sabotage became the new pattern of life which went unnoticed in my brain, as I perpetuated misery and failure in a long string of endeavours bringing me ever closer to tipping over the edge.
Paradise isn’t always so wonderful
My world began to change at 26. I was living far away from my family and friends, married to a narcissist who encouraged my depression, 85 pounds over my healthy weight, using recreational drugs and alcohol in a very detrimental manner, and playing with suicide like Russian roulette. Any number of elements in my life should have easily killed me, and I knew it. I lived each day hoping something to take me away.
I look at this time period in my life as the blackest. Self-destruction had not seemed like a choice I had ever made in life, but it now seemed like my only option. Life in paradise is not always so wonderful. I discovered that even paradise had a dark side, and I should know, I could find the darkness in anything.
My physical location was literally paradise. Tourist came in droves, spending big money to walk the streets and swim in the beaches I steadily came to detest. Due to the unhappiness within me, my own blackness reached out into the world around me seeking the familiar, and in a place like Hawai’i it was all the prevalent. Inequality, racism, greed, lust, hedonism, indulgence, amusement…
While the tourists sunned themselves, I saw the bitter realities of life on the island. This awareness pushed me further into the blackness of my own mind. Never before in my life had I experienced such hopelessness, such despair, and such acceptance of it. Things were the way they were on Oahu, and people accepted it the way it was. This would finally be my breaking point.
The darkness of my own mind had cocooned me in a downward spiral of hopelessness. I couldn’t take it anymore! Deep inside I still believed that life could be better. Tired of being so unhappy I began to try to reconcile my thoughts and my surroundings with what I knew life could be. It would take some time for my situation to change, but I decided to be happy.
I made a decision, a statement, a life altering, intentional choice to be happy. It came from the realisation that I didn’t want to die. Deep inside my soul I knew I was made for more then death. A year of my life would be spent searching for the right path, but I was resolute in finding out how to be happy. Slowly, over time, I began to build the skills I needed, but nothing would have happened without that choice.
Happiness is a CHOICE. It is not based on circumstances, successes, wealth, or status. It is not something you can take or acquire. No one can give it to you, and it can’t be earned. Once you decide for yourself to be happy, you suddenly find that you are.
It didn’t solve my problems over night, or help me suddenly stop wishing to die, but it gave me hope at a time when I had none. Choosing happiness was the spark that rekindled my life. It gave me confidence to pursue myself. I began to walk, eat healthy, search for people who made me happy, to stop putting myself in situations with negative people. After years of being lost I began to search for who I was and what I wanted to do in life. Without happiness I couldn’t move forward, I couldn’t find stability, I couldn’t truly live.