How I Found Happiness Despite My Depression and Anxiety

Remember that quote by Roald Dahl that we all learned in elementary school? The one about having good thoughts and always looking lovely?

A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.

Well, it’s true.

When we get sad or down about ourselves and life in general, we tend to think irrationally. There’s this idea that something or someone is going to show up like everything we had ever wished for wrapped into one – and make us happy. Or that we need alcohol or the party scene or drugs or some spontaneous adventure to make us feel better about life’s ups and downs.

But did you ever think that maybe – just maybe – that something is you? You have the power to decide whether you smile today. You have the power to create a little sunshine when things seem to be a never-ending thunderstorm. You have the power to change your world.

We get so caught up in something bigger and better than our own selves, we forget to take a step back and realize that just one small thing can lead us on a more perfect path.

Positive thoughts can lead to a more positive outlook on things.

For the better part of the last three years, I was trapped in a whirlwind of depression, PTSD, and anxiety. Experiencing a major death in your family can do that to you. I went through those days in a very detached way – there are more than a handful of things I just don’t remember because while I was there, I wasn’t really there. Most memories are a bit hazy, but I do remember waking up each morning empty and going to bed each night questioning what I had to live for.

Yes, I went to therapy. Yes, I was prescribed antidepressants and sleep medication. Yes, I knew I couldn’t go through life living like this.

But I was that person who was waiting on something spectacular from the universe to show up at my front door and save me. I was looking for something greater than a doctor’s office to pull me out of this downward spiral.

While this was no spontaneous adventure, it took a summer 11 hours away from my hometown to realize that I was that something spectacular. I was that something greater.

I spent last summer as a camp counselor for fourteen 15-year old girls. It only took four days for them to start calling me “mom” and that was all it took for me to want to be the best role model for them. That was all it took for me to realize I had something to live for, something to hold onto when the darkness came, something to remind me that there is good in the world, always.

It’s okay to rely on therapy and medication to get you through for awhile. I know I did. But at some point, you have to look at yourself and know that you are your own hero. You are the only one who can truly save yourself.

Your thoughts take up the most space in your mind. They’re a tornado of bad memories, bad grades, bad friendships, bad everything. But one little positive thought – “I saw a puppy today!” – can change your whole outlook.

There is always something good about each day. There is always something to be thankful for, no matter how small it might seem.

Hold onto that.

Featured Image via We Heart It.

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