Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Resolution: Get Happy
Naturally, I'm an optimistic champion idealist yellow sort of person. That's why this blog has the name it does. When I think of yellow, I think of fun happy sunshine. I think of things like my mom's zippy dream car. I have also always been a dreamer. I live in the land of big What-ifs. And not the anxious kind of What-ifs, but the "What if there were world peace" kind of What-ifs.
When I was in fifth grade, I had an entire year of low-self esteem to the point of hiding and crying every recess. Until, one day, I said "What if I liked myself. What if I didn't depend on others to provide my happiness." It made a world of difference. A difference that lasted until my senior year of high school, when I was at what appeared to be the top of my game: great grades in advanced classes, president of several clubs including youth mayor of my city, winning awards for my compositions and piano playing, lead in the musical, on track to get great scholarships. But reality was I was battling depression and felt I had no one to talk to about it. On and off again through college, I managed it behaviorally with exercise, diet, relaxation and stress management. I constantly battled the bouts of distress amidst the great adventures and very fun time I had in college and beyond. I did a great job keeping it together, and life really fell into place. I met my dream man, was living my dream life, and even had the worlds greatest children. Through all this, something was nagging and I was ignoring.
A month ago, I went to the health clinic to get some allergy relief. The intake nurse (a beautiful Navajo woman who taught me to say Yá'át'ééh and Hágoónee') told me they were doing a survey and asked if I smoked. Easy: no. Then she asked if I was depressed. I laughed and said, Oh, probably. With a raised an eyebrow she gave me a motherly scolding glance and handed me a survey to fill out while I waited to see the Doctor. The survey included run-of-the mill depression symptoms and asked you to rank how much they've affected you in the past two weeks. I threw circles around numbers here and there, but was actually shocked when I read the box explaining how to interpret my tally. One level, not depressed. The next, maybe and you could consider some behavioral changes. Up a notch, depressed, and you should probably seek help. Then there was my score: severe. The number seemed to shout at me like a New Jersey know-it-all. "You see! Stop ignoring it. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT ALREADY."
My thoughts became consumed with reviewing my past actions. It became a little scary when I couldn't pinpoint how far back the depression really went. Years, anyway. Sure, my life has been stressful, especially this year - but there has been something extra making things difficult.
So, I've begun therapy and am trying all sorts of ways to get this under control. I want to be the happy person that I know I really am. I want to feel like a good wife and mother. I want to be a great teacher. None of this will happen if I don't confront this depression and do something about it.
Like usual for me, things are falling into place, in a good way. Only this time I'm not trying to shove the depression into the back of my mind. I'm calling it out for what it is, and working with it. Instead of hiding out and crying I'm considering the What-ifs. What if I felt like getting up in the morning? What if I actually did those "good wife" and "good mother" things I imagine but just can't get the umph to do anything about? What if I allow myself to actually enjoy activities? What if I exercised, and worked toward getting back a body I felt happy with? What if I actually allowed myself to make friends instead of making excuses as to why I'm too stressed and busy to do anything? What if I become the person I know I am, and like myself?
The practical optimist in me says I WILL do this, I CAN do this, but it won't be easy, it will take time, and it will take effort. I have an action plan. I am making achievable goals. I'm excited for the possibilities. So to those of you who have known me for a long time, you'll be able to say "welcome back" when you meet me again. For those of you who have met me only recently, be warned that the real Amber is about to Stand Up.