Thursday, 2 June 2011

Happiness is not a foreign land

One of the biggest challenges of all to anyone who has suffered long term or even recurring episodes of mental illness is to become receptive to the possibility of joy, happiness or pleasure ever happening in their lives. For some it becomes something that only ever happened in the past and could not possibly happen again. For others they feel they have no knowledge of such things at all.

Both statements are untrue. You have to have some knowledge of the concept of joy for you to be aware that it is not currently a part of your life. If it happened in the past it proves it exists and therefore it can happen again and again and again. However when depression is associated and linked to a loss of someone or something that made you happy it can be a long haul and seem nigh on impossible to let it stand a chance of re-entering your life.

Dwelling on the past and only the past can ruin your chances of happiness both in the here and now and in the future. The loss of a beloved home doesn't mean you can't love another home. It becomes harder of course when dealing with the loss of a loved one, but loved ones who love or loved you would want for your happiness, even a child would and that is the key to moving on. Do so as a memorial to that lost love as well as for yourself.

The other barrier that prevents us from allowing pleasure to even get a look in is the feeling that we don't merit it. The causes behind such feelings are often deep rooted and it is common to feel that we can not enjoy life unless others are happy first. Perhaps they are waiting for you to be happy though? Perhaps the best way to help others is by being positive about looking after yourself as by doing so you stop being a doormat for others to wipe their shoes on and start leading by example and earning respect.

This might seem a harsh statement to make, but no one can help anyone who does not want to be helped and many of us (myself included albeit subconciously) fall into the habit of expecting help. I believe that most people want to be in control of their own lives and do not want things decided for us. Yes, there are occasions when we need help, yes there are occasions when we want to and rightly do help others, but as with just about everything it is a question of balance and of setting boundaries to safeguard our own wellbeing.

And then there are thoughts like "How can I be happy when I know there are others suffering from bullying, torture, cruelty, loneliness and all forms of misery?" Such thoughts I found extremely difficult to move away from until I accepted that I am only one person and therefore can not cure the world of all it's ills, nor indeed can I even cure those closest to me of their pain and suffering. I do what I can, where and when I can and that 'when' is only possible if I am at my best, because not to be could make things worse for the very people I am trying to help. Ultimately the only person we can truly say we are 100% responsible for and control the happiness of, is ourselves.

For me the recovery from mental illness is not and can not be said to complete until I have enjoyed life again. I do not believe we can impart solutions to things we have not found answers to ourselves. I feel there are false advocates of positivity when they have not been positive about themselves. I have been one, all sufferers while they are ill are. I always recommend seeking professional help with regard to mental illness and not to only rely upon laymen or even other sufferers. Professionals are the only ones that have the experience to guide us all the way through to brighter and happier days once we have become clinically ill.

I don't doubt and acknowledge that there are many who have found nothing to help, motivate or inspire them in this blogsite, but I hope some have if only by means of other sources of support.

Here's how I made my first step to welcoming happiness back into my life... I caught myself smiling and began to tell myself not to feel guilty for it and in that moment I burst into tears for the pain I'd gone through. When I was done I smiled some more and soon found my smile helped others to do the same.

It is important to acknowledge our sadness and pain, but just as important (vital for a happy future) to also acknowledge all the things that cheer and soothe us too. It's the combination that makes a person true and complete. We appreciate the good things all the more, are grateful for them once we have left the bad experiences in the past where they belong.

In short, all experiences are valuable. We learn from the negative ones what we don't like or want in our lives and from the good ones what to look out for in order to work toward and achieve a happier existence.

1 comment:

  1. Apologies for the long delay in posting. I've had a bit of trouble with blogger's editing facilities!


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