Quest for Happiness: Time to put on your serious hats

This post was inspired by this great talk given by a super eloquent 19-year-old. Watch it. It’s good. http://www.upworthy.com/this-kid-thinks-we-could-save-so-many-lives-if-only-it-was-okay-to-say-4-words?c=upw1

Depression. Ihazit. I started seeing a therapist about four years ago. I entered the therapeutic process viewing myself as Little Miss Self-Aware. I had a psychology degree, but I didn’t know what to do with it. I was the queen of self-analysis, second only to my sister. I knew how the DSM IV defined depression. Imagine my surprise when my therapist told me that I was depressed, and that I likely had been for many years. Up until then, I thought that I was lazy and unmotivated. I thought that I was incapable of working hard. Not only was I suffering from depression, but I was also beating myself for it, as if I was completely to blame for my chemical imbalances. As if the shame and guilt would make it go away.

I started therapy because I was unhappy (well, duh). Mostly, I was unhappy about my lack of career path. I was in a job that I hated. I knew that everything about it was wrong for me, but I lacked the confidence to face potential failure by trying something new. I have cried almost every Sunday afternoon since started the job 6 years ago. The situation has taken a serious toll on my mental health. I knew that it was unhealthy for me, but I didn’t know how to get out, and then I felt stuck in it, which further contributed to my depression. Now, I haven’t quite sorted out the job vs. depression thing. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation. Depression is super annoying. If you’ve never experienced it, consider yourself fortunate. I think that most people have felt grief at some point in their lives. Depression feels kind of like grief, but about regular, every day things. Depression isn’t just unhappiness. It’s pain. If my husband weren’t an atheist, I would call him a saint for sitting by my side during all those tearful episodes, wanting nothing more than to take my pain away. This isn’t to say that I haven’t experienced happiness in my 31 years. In fact, the purpose of this blog was to acknowledge the things in life that make me happy. But the “I love myself and I love my life” kind of happiness has always been elusive for me. It’s a work in progress.

That being said, I am about to embark on major life transition. I am quitting my job at the end of this month to continue my quest for happiness. Since starting therapy 4 years ago, I have explored several career paths without ever fully putting myself out there. Talking to people was too scary. Trying to get a new job was too scary. My self-esteem was just too fragile. However, I developed an interest in nutrition, and I’ve been in school part-time to eventually become a registered dietitian. It turns out that I’m actually capable of working really, really hard. I can think of nothing more satisfying than to work one-on-one with people to empower them to make the changes that they need to be healthy and happy. Some people are ok with a job being just a job, and not relating to it on a personal level. I’m not one of those people. However, I feel hypocritical attempting to help others when I haven’t figured out how to help myself. I am dedicating the next year of my life to becoming a happier person. I have no idea what that’s going to look like. I have spent my entire life planning everything out to try to avoid failure, and for once, I don’t really have a plan, and I’m kind of ok with it. Once in awhile, my anxiety (oh, I have that too) kicks in, and I have a momentary freakout, but for the most part, I am excited about whatever is in store for me. I no longer feel paralyzed by fear. I’m optimistic that I will come out of this as a better wife, friend, sister, daughter, and eventually, a professional.

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