For many, many years my life used to be either black or white. Happy or depressed. Full on social or completely secluded. I was convinced I liked it that way. The mix of high up and rock bottom seemed to connect me to what I thought life was all about: reflecting on oneself, investigating every emotion and growing from within. I lived that way until I moved to Australia. Here my life changed. Suddenly there were no regular clouds, life was just easy and I was happy. Pretty much continuously which felt weird. Good, but in a suspicious way.
After four years of uninterrupted happiness, I had my children and those feelings of sadness returned with them. While the lack of sleep and time to myself may have played a major role in that, I was not prepared to go back to the way I lived before. I had to find what it is that keeps me seeing the world grey even though it is only a passing cloud. I hope you like it and that it may help some of you.
The comforting feeling of feeling sorry for myself
Do you know this feeling? Everything seems to be going well until something throws you out of your rhythm. Something big and black suddenly overshadows everything. You start focusing on the negative, believing that you are the poorest individual on the whole planet. I am no different. My mood can switch from feeling on top of the world to feeling defeated, small and lonely within seconds. Where there was pure sunshine, clouds and rain take over the sky and darken everything. Why is that? Why do we let little things throw us around like this? How can a simple situation take everything out of context and proportion?
In contrast to now, I used to welcome those low moods. I saw them as an opportunity to retreat, a chance to hide from life, to feel little and sorry for myself. Back then, in my little, slightly gloomy apartment I would run over and over every issue until I got to the point where I declared happy people weren’t living life to the fullest. I believed that only if we experience the dark are we able to truly feel the light. Depression for me was a place of comfort, a place where I had my own attention and an opportunity to blame the world for what I experienced. I remember liking it. But I cannot remember why.
Being happy just seemed too easy
Moving to Australia was my saving grace in so many ways. Removed from my old life, thrown into a society that knew nothing about me and treating my time more like a vacation than the daily grind, everything was just easy. The sun was shining pretty much every day and I very quickly became used to the feeling of freedom. Two months into my adventure I met my best friend who would turn into my boyfriend a few months later. I had a job, a good circle of friends and was so much in control of myself that it was easy to let go of what made me sad.
Only after I had my children did the valleys of my moods return. At the moment when I thought I would and should be the happiest I ever felt, I returned to feeling sorry for myself. Feeling isolated in my pain and trapped in my life. I guess if I hadn’t experienced those joyful years just before, it wouldn’t have made a difference to me. But because I had tasted a life where I was happy most of the time, I was no longer willing to just accept these moods. I started wondering whether there might be a chance to grow without having to feel depressed beforehand.
When you know the trigger you know the enemy
My children are five and almost four now and I have had quite some time to evaluate my life and figure out what triggers my feeling of unhappiness. It is when I feel dependent on others. When I am without power and have no way to control a situation. I get upset when I am not recognised or even rejected for what I do. But I also realised that those circumstances will always happen and that if I cannot find a mechanism to deal with them, I will keep feeling depressed for many years to come.
Yes, I don’t like it when things don’t go to MY plan. I do get upset when I am dependent on others and they don’t deliver the way I expect them to. It all has to do with MY expectations, the way I think things should happen. But I am not in control of others. I have no control over nature. What I can control though are my expectations, my plans and schedules. I am a very flexible person, so I know I can adjust to whatever. All I need to do is to stop myself from turning a small hick-up into a huge drama. I need to step out of the feeling of being dependant on somebody and instead focus on the good things that surround me. Focus on what I can control and on what gives me the feeling of security and happiness and just go with that.
I hope by sharing with you my trigger points and how I (try to) deal with them, I can inspire you to not let a small problem cloud your day. Most of the time it is simply not worth it. Life is as good as our perspective on it.