The pursuit of happiness

Happiness takes effort. This was my takeaway from yesterday’s session with my psych. I’d told her that I had given up dating for the rest of this year. I am exhausted and frankly, sick of talking about it, writing about it, worrying about it. The energy it has consumed could be channelled so much more purposefully into something that I know will actually make me happy. And that’s what prompted her musings.

My mood is almost always either high or low. Finding that middle ground, even with my medication, is a challenge. We spoke about how I needed things to look forward to, that made me happy, but they couldn’t be just big things – holidays, parties etc. By only having big things to look forward to, I will come crashing down after the euphoria is gone. It happened after base camp. It happened after my birthday and Halloween parties. In fact, any event or activity that I have been fiercely excited for usually sends me into a hole in the days after.

Happiness needs to be created, she said. It doesn’t just happen. With depression, you are constantly fighting with yourself to create that happiness. You know that a 30-minute drive to the beach will make you happy once you get there but the thought of that 30-minute drive is enough to deter you. I am my own de-motivator. I constantly talk myself out of doing things that will make me happy. She said there’s a comfort sometimes in doing nothing, because you’re not in conflict with yourself.

Happiness needs focus. I need to consciously seek things to do that I know I enjoy. I need to plan them but they need to be little things as well as big things. Reading a book (difficult when I’m hypomanic), baking, swimming, shopping – whatever it is, I need to do things that give me pleasure or at least be busy enough that I can’t wallow.

Giving up dating has made me happier. I’m sure come Christmas morning when I wake up alone next to a snoring dog I will feel very differently about that statement but there’s a relief to it. This latest effort made me realise, somewhat belatedly, that there’s a lot of value in being on my own if the person I’m dating isn’t interested in making the effort. The moment I stopped prioritising him, was the moment I regained my self-confidence. I was unconsciously letting him determine how I felt. When I let that go, a very conscious decision, I immediately felt better. I stopped caring what he thought or if he wanted to see me again. It was like waking up and realising it’s sunny outside. The clouds were gone.

I had allowed myself to fall into a hole. The worst part of this was I am usually pretty good at realising when I’m headed for a crash. This was sneaky. Not him, fuck, he didn’t have that much hold over me. But the stealth of this crash troubled me.

So like alcohol or sugar, I’ve given it up. Not forever, but for now. I still have Married and whatever that is. It’s not dating. It’s not a relationship. It’s not fuck buddies. But it’s a manageable situation and for now, at least, it makes me smile.

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