By Amy Clover
I always thought happy people were fakers.
Growing up with clinical depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), I never knew what it was like to be happy for more than a few moments at a time.
I was so used to struggling that I couldn’t imagine a life in which every day was easy. I couldn’t grasp the idea that other people’s happiness could be real.
Or maybe I just didn’t want to.
Because I didn’t want to burden other people with my depression, I didn’t talk to anyone about it.
I tried to act normal. I tried to be like everyone else.
I drank heavily and took diet pills to make myself more attractive so that people would concentrate on my outsides (heaven forbid they find out how much was actually wrong with me).
I felt trapped by my disorders, by everything I thought was wrong with me.
It got to the point of holding so much in, I didn’t think I could handle it anymore.
In 2005, I tried to kill myself.
Thankfully, my roommate stopped me. I was admitted to an inpatient program against my will the next day.
In the mental ward, I had no freedom.
I was forced to be at a group meeting at a certain time. I was told to go to sleep at a certain time. I couldn’t even choose whether I took medication or not.
Being truly trapped was the most horrible feeling I have ever experienced.
When I was released, I felt enlightened.
I had been taking my freedom for granted.
Out here in the free world, I have the choice to do something about my unhappiness.
By accepting the diagnoses of these debilitating disorders, I was removing responsibility from myself. I felt like I was given a hopeless life sentence that wasn’t worth fighting against.
After being shown what life could be like without choices, without trying to improve, I knew there was no way to keep living the way that I was.
I made the choice then and there, to change my life.
Over the next few years, I took steps to overcome my depression, as impossible as that might sound. I decided not to give up and refused to give over to my disorders.
I failed a lot, but every time I fell down, I got right back up again.
7 years later, I am a bubbly personal trainer and online coach, determined to empower you to overcome your setbacks and discover your happiness.
No matter where you are in life, if you are not happy, something needs to change. Life is too short to be lived in a haze of hopelessness.
Many people who come to me online and in my personal training business tell me that they feel helpless to change.
There are indeed some diseases, disorders, and situations that you will have no control over, that cannot be changed.
But you always have the choice of how you react to them and what to do when they threaten to take over your life.
What we want to do is create space for happiness, even if you think your life is full of darkness.
There is light somewhere, and I am determined to help you find it.
I found the following steps extremely helpful on my road to recovery, and I hope you do, too.
Talk About It
Find a trusted friend, family member or therapist who you can talk to openly.
Getting your emotions out and asking for support without guilt is crucial to the healing process.
Make sure this person is:
- willing to help
I am the biggest proponent for therapy because it was so crucial to my journey. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with anything in particular, therapy can help sort out confusing thoughts and issues that you may be carrying with you which could be keeping you from full-fledged happiness.
Instead of dwelling on the negative things happening to you (such as things you have no control over), focus on the positive actions you can take.
What can you do to create happiness in your life? Even if everything around you seems dim, you can always take action to create some semblance of light.
For instance, in the very beginning of my recovery, I had no idea how to start “being happy.” I tried a lot of things to get my mind off the negative thoughts, but I found exercise to be the most effective. It decreased stress, helped me focus throughout the day, and made me feel stronger during and after my workout. This is how I discovered my passion for health and fitness, which has added countless amounts of happiness to my life!
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Make A Mantra
If you didn’t know I’m a self-development writer, you do now! 😉
Seriously, though, mantras help me through every part of my day.
I have a few, but the one I use in most situations is, “You can do this.”
Find a phrase, quote or word that strikes a chord in you. Your mantra should give you strength when you need it in challenging moments.
A few others that I use:
- Don’t let this defeat you.
- This won’t kill me. I will come out stronger.
You can say them out loud, but for social reasons, I tend to repeat inside my own head.
Need some ideas? Check out Pinterest for visual inspiration. There are some amazing images out there that motivate me daily.
I dare you to try to help someone else feel better, then feel depressed after. It’s impossible!
The feeling of giving happiness to someone else has a way of taking the heaviness out of your own life.
Now, I’m not saying, “Go help other people so that you never think of how depressed you are.”
On the contrary, I recommend you put yourself first. Take care of your mental and physical health, but after that therapy session, go volunteer at a soup kitchen. You’ll be amazed what the combination will do for your spirits!
The most important thing to do is to make the choice to fight for happiness.
Letting life happen to you by default leaves you with very few options.
- Why can’t you be the one living the life you’ve always dreamed of?
- Why can’t you be the success story you read about in magazines?
- Why can’t you be the one to change the world?
Make the choice to change your life.