Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Making the choice to be happy

One of the most difficult things about living with a chronic illness is that it's well...chronic.  While we can find some relief through medication and alternative therapies, it's just relief; it doesn't cure us or make it all go away.  One of the "side effects" of being chronically ill is depression.  I don't mean "just"** clinical depression but situational depression as well.  **Please note- I am not discounting clinical depression by any means, it is merely what you think of when you think "depression."

Clinical depression, while treatable, is a severe form of depression. Someone who is clinically depressed must have the assistance of a doctor if they are to get better.   Situational depression is what we feel when something happens in our life that is very difficult.  It can be brought on by stress, or when you are having difficulty adjusting to something going on in your life.  It can sneak up on you.  In the beginning it’s like a blanket that you wrap around you when you have a chill but then once you feel warm, you cannot get it off.  While it may FEEL horrible when in the midst of it, while it CAN truly paralyze your life if you let it there is always hope.  We can fight back from situational depression before it morphs over into clinical depression.  

If you are wondering how, in the middle of a really rough patch, you can get yourself out of the "Why me's" and the doldrums brought on by your situation-it can be done if you really want it.  I truly feel that if you step back and look at your life objectively, you can make the decision to let go of the cloak that is the depression.  We all know that I am a very big proponent of making the time to count your blessings as a way to bring gratitude and positivity to your life but even more I believe that we have to really want to bring those things into our life.  If it is not a specific choice, you can do the exercise without reaping the benefits and that will only serve to make you frustrated.

Being happy is a choice.  We have to make that choice every day.  It’s not enough to just say “I want to be happy”.  Rather, we have to get up every morning; no matter how much pain we are in, no matter how tired we are, no matter how easy it would be to just pull the blankets up and put the pillow over our heads, and we have to say to ourselves “I choose to make today a good day.”  Not just once.  Every.  Single.  Day. Until it becomes ingrained in us.  We have to look past the pain and stiffness, we have to look past the exhaustion and we have to take our day minute by minute, hour by hour and choose to see and feel all of the great things that we have been given. 

Two things spurred this post this morning.  First, I read a post online yesterday that said “unlike most of you, I don’t have good days and bad days.  I have bad days and less-bad days.”  On some level I can understand that.  The second is that I drove over 5 hours yesterday in my round trip to Indy and back.  The ramifications of that drive are that my knees are sore, my back is throbbing and when I got up from my chair last night and my bed this morning, everything was super stiff.   Additionally I know that I have a very long day (10-12 work hours) on my feet ahead of me today and tomorrow.  It would have been very easy is for me to fall into the pity party that was just lurking there waiting to be had.  It took a lot for me to find the bright side this morning- but I did it.  Instead of letting the pain, stiffness and exhaustion set the tone for the day I made a conscious decision to make today a good day.  I made the decision to be happy that I can go there and do my job today, that I have a job to go to, that I have a family that loves and supports me in a myriad of ways, that I had two sweet puppies that were snuggled up to me and so on.  By the time that I got around to beginning this post, the “bad” things had become just a byproduct of my day; a nuisance to be dealt with and to power through while I go through my day.  There are just too many good things to allow the “bad” to be what colors my world.  Speaking of which, my “status” yesterday was a great quote that ties into this nicely. 

“Your attitude is like a box of crayons that color your world. Constantly color your picture gray, and your picture will always be bleak. Try adding some bright colors to the picture by including humor, and your picture begins to lighten up.” - Allen Klein

I hope you find the bright colors in your box of crayons for today.  I know I will.  


Cassandra Mary said...

Wow, thank you for the beautiful reminder and brilliant quote!! I have been struggling lately with the depression of realizing the pain is catching up to me. It's a constant battle, one day/hour/minute at a time, to make the CHOICE to be grateful for the blessings, no matter how small.

Thank you!

Kim in FL said...

Can I "borrow" your status! I love it! Loved the blog today!