I wear a pretty cheerful face most of the time these days, and it’s usually totally real, and I’m usually in a pretty good mood. I’m waiting for the day when someone asks me “How are you so cheerful all the time?” Because here’s the secret to my success:
It takes a lot of work and constant vigilance.
After I started to recover from my major depression, and began to add healthy habits into my life, I started to notice that there were certain things that could trigger a low mood. Sugar is one. Sugar is bad bad bad bad bad for my mental health. A little bit is ok, but if I have too much of it, it can violently push me into a hasty downward spiral. So I don’t do much sugar these days. Lack of exercise is another. I don’t have to do a full hour of cardio everyday or anything like that, but I have to get up and move my body pretty regularly, like walking around the block or my morning yoga.
My husband and I just celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. I’ve been very committed to my keto diet, but decided that it would be ok to indulge in donuts on Saturday morning, because it used to be a Saturday morning tradition, and I missed the ritual of it probably more than I even missed the sugar. I also had some wine, and just generally didn’t get enough sleep over the weekend, and my lack of vigilance resulted in about 5 hours yesterday where I just could not get my mood back into balance. Something switched in my brain at about 10am, and even though I tried all of my usual strategies to get back on track, it wasn’t until about 3pm that I was finally able to pull myself out of that funk.
This image has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with what I’ve written about today.
It was frustrating to say the least, because I’ve been pretty proud lately of how well I’ve been able to head off those bad moods. It’s my own fault. And I say that with full compassion for myself and no judgement. I made choices over the weekend that I knew could result in a funky mood. Lesson learned, probably.
Most people I know don’t get to see those hard moments of mine. I have an online presence in a couple of different places, and I think it sometimes comes across that I’m coasting on easy street all the time. I don’t want the impression that I leave to be that my life is all rainbows and butterflies. Don’t get me wrong! There are a lot of rainbows and butterflies, because I take responsibility for the actions that help me to maintain that state of mind, but I’m human and fallible and I still sometimes make choices that don’t serve me for whatever pleasure or comfort they offer in the moment.
I was looking through my journal this morning, and I recorded a piece of gratitude a couple of weeks ago that is relevant. It said “Today I am grateful for my job, because there are days when it’s really hard to be grateful for it, and those are the days when I learn and grow.” Every time I suffer it’s an opportunity to learn something about myself, and I value those opportunities.
I’ll do better for myself.
With deep love,