A few months ago my therapist asked me to write out a weekly schedule, with the intention of looking at how I was managing my time. I wrote down a list of daily activities, the mundane day to day things that makes one feel like a ‘normal’ functioning human being; things such as ‘brush teeth’ and ‘change cat litter tray’.
I put them in an order that I felt would make me look capable and efficient. For example I put bed time at 10.30pm and missed out the potential late night, red eyed, trip to the fridge and the hours long jaunt through the finest procrastination sites found on the World Wide Web. The clock watching and the self flagilation were also left off the list as well as the hours of howling into my pillow and the reading and re-reading of old love letters, battered old novels and the low end, sensationalised murder documentaries found in a thirteen handy parts on YouTube. None of which were enriching my life, or of any consequence other than passing the time.
Upon proudly showing these columns filled with useful and productive tasks to my therapist, she read over it nodding and frowned slightly before responding “This is fine, but it’s all a bit boring. What do you do for fun?”
So I had to set about the task of filling in the gaps between mundane household tasks and self maintenance, with things that I might find enjoyable or relaxing or ‘fun’. In other words she was asking me to be responsible for my own happiness. Which at the time was a foreign concept, one which I was somewhat reluctant to accept.
When you’ve been depressed you have a tendency to shut yourself off from anything that once gave you pleasure. For one thing you find much joy in doing things which used to make you feel fulfilled. You also suffer a crisis of confidence where you suddenly start to critique everything that you do as though you are a judge on a make or break, conveyor belt fame, panel show host. Things that were once fun become tedious chores that you reluctantly trudge through in order to maintain the appearance of a happy, go lucky human being. A sort of “Look busy, your Cosmopolitan reading friends are watching,” stance.
The word ‘happy’ itself becomes a childish, empty concept. One which offers no further validation than a false smile and a smug update on social media.
When you are stuck in the ‘victim mentality’ you come to believe that ‘things’, both good and bad, just ‘happen’ to you. You stop believing that you have any control or say in your life or mood, let alone a duty to yourself to seek out that which makes your heart sing, the right to happiness.
So I was forced into the realisation that there was very little in my life that I did purely in the pursuit of happiness, a token of respect, a gift from myself, to myself.
Using my perception of the word ‘happy’ being such a basic, infantile word I started right back to basics, to scour for the simple things in life that make me smile.
It’s my cat, the way she chirps and rushes through the house after a poo. It’s the way she kneads my back and jumps up on my lap at inappropriate times and tickles my feet in bed at night.
It’s soft, warm, fluffy towels and seeing my houseplant grow. It’s the smell of an old, dusty book and the electric blanket on 5.
It’s getting my washing done on a windy day and coffee and cake with a friend and reminiscing about old times and hugging out the hard times.
It is green grass beneath my feet, sunny days and cloud watching. It is skipping in the rain. It is being able to laugh at yourself.
It’s meeting new people that inspire you, motivate you, people you want to be with, people you want to be. People that make you want to be a better person, not through envy but through loving yourself. For accepting yourself as they accept you.
Happiness is ever elusive, but it is a right for all of us on this beautiful planet. It is always a possibility and most of all a privilege.

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