I spent 25 years searching for happiness. Ultimately that is what depression is? I always believed there was something wrong with me as clearly I looked like what most told me should bring me happiness and with the constant feedback I received from family that was I was too emotional, too sensitive, too dumb, get over yourself, grow up, blah, blah blah I was miserable… So I searched and searched for the answer to my misery and how I could change myself and my life in order to be accepted and find happiness.
I used to hear and read over and over that happiness was an inside job and I just thought that was a load of crap! And it didn’t apply to me. How could I possibly be happy when I didn’t have the degree, career, money, man, house, kids etc. etc. I felt incredible pressure to “do” life in a certain order and without these things or circumstances I was miserable and felt like I had failed at life.
I also read that loving yourself was paramount to finding true happiness. But this brought up internal conflict for me as growing up loving yourself was a derogatory term. You were labeled “up yourself” and frowned upon so it was something I avoided at all costs! I was not taught to take pride in myself whether that be any achievement or taking care of my body. I was also not given any praise or positive feedback for anything so even before I have reached my teenage years and the influence of the media is greater I was already battling low self-worth.
So as an adult I spent 25 years chasing happiness through the external and the following channels.
- In my next purchase. I was a shopaholic. Mainly clothes like most girls. Usually on credit.. I was always combing the stores for my next bargain and then more recently online shopping meant I could shop anytime! I hated being seen in the same outfit more than a few times and was always so excited to go home with loads of shopping bags. My wardrobe was overflowing! The joy from shopping is always fleeting.. that’s why we go back over and over again to chase the next purchase.. and the next.. Sourcing happiness from material things whether it be clothes, a house, car, technology is a never-ending cycle.
- In my next relationship. Despite having a few long term relationships clearly with my low self-worth they were not going to be the right ones and although they lessened my depression they inevitable brought up other issues. Having a healthy relationship with a partner starts with a healthy relationship with yourself. My single years brought out the very (very!) desperate Jane and my depression hit an all-time low and would see my two attempts to exit all together. Coming from a space of desperation of course I got my heart broken over and over. But it wasn’t just romantic relationships, I have not been consistent with friendships either. As soon as my issues started to emerge I would move on or they would. I would put a lot of effort into searching for new friends online as well as a partner with the hope that the next relationship would give me happiness and resolve my depression.
- In the next person to solve my problems. I was always seeking out professional help. I have seen dozens of different psychiatrists, psychologists, psychoanalysts under the traditional therapy method. If I didn’t find the peace & happiness I was searching for I would move on sure that the next one would give me the answers. I also did the rounds of alternate therapist’s; energetic healing was one I stuck with for a long time and I do believe contributed to my recovery. I have also tried kinesiology, naturopathy, transformational healing, reiki & hypnotherapy.
- In my next home. I am a homemaker and part of my attachment to the picket fence dream was not just the man and children but the house. The breakdown in my second marriage saw my devastation not only for the relationship but over the loss of my house that I had spent 100’s of hours decorating, renovating and cleaning. So I very much resented the “shoe box” living (one bedroom apartment) which was all I could afford through my single years. So I would move regularly, trying different areas to live in with the hope that the next move would bring me happiness.
- In my next job. Changing jobs too often is still frowned upon in the corporate world which I totally disagree with but it depends on the reasons. There is a big difference in changing roles to gain more experience and skills in comparison to why I was changing jobs which was searching for happiness or because I had pissed off too many people! A corporate role was never going to give me happiness given what my passions are in life but as I was good at my job it was relatively easy for me to obtain a new one. So I did regularly sure that the next job would bring me my man and happiness..
- In my next physical enhancement. With my unhealthy obsession in my exterior naturally the aging process was not something I embraced or dealt with well! So I was always trying the latest painful skin treatment hoping that the next one would magically turn back the clock, make me youthful again but more importantly make me happy. IPL, fraxel, botox; all very painful! And expensive.. my dependence on my exterior was continually reinforced not only by the way society glorifies attractive women but youth and with the realization that I actually was one of the lucky ones the pressure I felt was massive. I am attractive so why don’t I have my dream life..? why am I so unhappy? I felt there was something seriously wrong with me! So keeping what I perceived as the only thing going for me consumed me!
- In my next escape. By this I don’t mean holiday escape, I mean escape from my reality! Drugs and alcohol do have a way of giving you some happiness… albeit brief! And can be a great way of relaxing and socializing if it is for healthy reasons. But for me it was an addiction and a means of escape from myself. When you spend every waking moment hating the very person you spend all your time with a temporary escape allows you to find a brief respite. Watching TV was another avenue to block out my pain and reality. But the high always comes down, the morning always comes, the entertainment always ends. Another never ending cycle..
- Recognition from others. Having had an unsupportive family my entire life, never feeling good enough and suffering with low self-worth I have continually sort out validation from others to feel happy. When you have no concept of your own worth the only way to source any positive feedback is from others.
Since my recovery from depression and regaining my self-worth I read back over these points that describe the old Jane with compassion and relief that I no longer feel this way! But too many of us fall into these traps as comparisonities runs rampant in society today. You only have to turn on the TV to see where we develop our insatiable need for material things and happiness from external factors.
Happiness truly is a decision within your own mind, it’s a perception, its focusing on the awesome things in life (and there always are no matter what the circumstances) its living in the present moment and not obsessing about the past (which no longer exists) or worrying about the future (which also does not exist) but ultimately its taking responsibility for yourself and your own happiness. Easier said than done!
Happiness is not a destination, its a way of life!