KICKING DEPRESSION: THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS Life, April 12, 2016

Charli Howard

Sometimes in life, we settle. We accept what’s been given or said to us without questioning it. We become trapped in a routine. We settle in our jobs, we settle in our relationships. We settle because we feel we don’t deserve any better. 

But guess what people – we do. We all deserve the best life we can get. We all deserve happiness. My grandparents died suddenly last month and, whilst sad, the experience taught me that you need to embrace life as much as you can.

Other people can sometimes take a knock on our self-esteem. It was Eleanor Roosevelt who famously said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent“. Never has a saying been more true. We sometimes get so wrapped up by other people’s thoughts and negativity, that we let it control us. But you don’t need to expect that from people and let it dictate your life.

Sometimes, issues we face in life build up and up until depression kicks in. I, myself, have struggled with depression and watched friends and family struggle with it, too. From either side, depression makes you feel worthless: it’s very isolating and, above all, lonely. You feel as though there’s no escape from it.

I have often thought how to describe depression to those who have never had it. I can only describe it as your body being surrounded by a foggy mist, that in time grows more and more polluted, until it becomes so black and heavy on your shoulders that not even a glimmer light shines through.

But if life has taught me anything, it’s this: THINGS GET BETTER. Life is full of ups-and-downs and sadly, not everything will be rosy. But for every bad thing that happens in our lives, something great happens, too. Once you learn to accept that fact, you can learn to deal with depression in a much healthier way.

I now appreciate that some of the depressive thoughts I feel are simply down to chemical imbalances. But I also know that when I actively try, I can teach my brain to break out of a downward spiral. So here are my ways of feeling happier and better in yourself!

 

Positive thinking. If you constantly think bad thoughts, you will feel bad in yourself. But if you turn that into positive thinking – you’ve guessed it – you will feel happier. Trust me on that one.

Start realising how lucky you are. Whatever problems you’re facing, there are people in the world with much bigger problems. The fact you’re reading this on a computer or phone screen shows that you’re part of a percentage of people in the world who can afford such luxuries. Some people can’t afford food or shoes on their feet. You’re living a life that some people will never get to experience or have been taken away from. Embrace it.

Love yourself. Start looking at yourself in the mirror and, rather than picking on yourself, begin appreciating every ‘flaw’ and every curve. No one is perfect physically, not even Victoria’s Secret models, and if you chase physical perfection, you will never reach it. Once I stopped trying to change myself and started embracing my flaws, I became so much happier. I instead aimed to become the best version of myself that I could be. As I said before, there are people dying in the world or with life-threatening diseases and illnesses. Start accepting that looks are very insignificant in the grand scheme of things and that there are people who would die to look like you.

Surround yourself with positive people. I actively hang around with happy, ambitious and kind people I know will make me feel good about myself. I don’t care if it’s your doctor, agent or a family member: ditch the horrible ones, and surround yourself with the nicer people. Your mental health deserves it and your future self with thank you for doing so. It’s not a difficult concept – the more you hang around negative people, the worse you will feel about yourself. Which brings me onto my next point…

Get rid of toxic friends. Time for another favourite quote here: “Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind, don’t matter“. Getting rid of people that made me feel bad about myself was a big step for me, but which I now see as a blessing in disguise. I now realise that true friends would never be horrible to me, bitch behind my back or make me feel less of a person, and if they do, they’re not worth having in my life. A group of girls I thought were my friends showed their true colors recently. I assumed that because I’d known them for a long time, they were my friends and that they had my back. WRONG. It was as though they wanted me to do well in life, but only up to a point, or when it suited them or their beliefs/needs. Needless to say, a weight has been lifted knowing I no longer have to deal with their bitchiness and negativity, or worry about what they think of me.

Stay off of social media. When you’re feeling low, the last thing you need is to go on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and look at people having “fun”. It will make you feel worse about yourself, and you’ll be fooled into thinking they’re having a better life than you (which, as we all know, is probably far from the truth).

Life a live you’ve dreamed of. What I’m about to say might sound harsh, but if you reach the age of sixty and haven’t attempted to achieve your dreams, or dumped that boy who’s been horrible to you, or left the job that’s making you miserable, you only have yourself to blame. Life really is too short. Stop worrying what your mum/dad/whoever thinks about you, and start focusing on yourself and achieving your dreams. Stop worrying about money and make it work. If having no money for a year means you get to do something you always dreamt of, do it. That’s not selfish: it’s about choosing happiness and having a life worth living.

Look up. No, I mean literally, look up: look up at the sky, take a deep breath in and absorb what’s going on around you. It was make-up artist Alex Box who told me that whenever she’s feeling down, she looks up to the sky. I’m not sure if it’s the physical act of looking up that helps, or the realisation of how small and insignificant we are as humans in a ginormous universe, but it works for me. It makes me feel as though the sky is the limit.

Be kind. “Kind words cost nothing,” I read on a coffee shop sign recently. Consciously or unconsciously, whenever I do good and/or spread positivity, I feel a lot better about myself. I’m a huge believer in karma and doing good, but most of all, making other people feel happy makes me feel happy. If you’re one of those people that makes other people feel happy, you’re one of life’s good ones. Always remember how special you are.

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9 thoughts on “KICKING DEPRESSION: THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

  1. Siobhan

    A wonderful post Charlie. For such a young woman, you have a very old wise soul. ♡ I also suffer from depression (for past 5 years) and every point you make is 100% true. Looking forward to more of your posts. x

    Reply
    1. Charli Howard Post author

      Hi Siobhan! Thank you so much, I’m glad you liked it and thanks for the kind words xxx

      Reply
  2. Bethany

    This was really inspirational, I set this goal for myself, to always be smiling and spread positively and joy, much like you said in this post, after some nasty girls took over my attempt to spread and think positive, I lost a bit of hope that It was actually worth trying, this post gave me the inspiration i needed to continue smiling and doing good, thank you so much.

    Reply
  3. Tom Crews

    Wow, what a brave and courageous post! Thank you so much for sharing your personal experiences. I had some thoughts and extra advice that i have picked up too, that I hope it is okay to share:
    1) Depression is common. Around 1 in 5 people experience it over the course of their lifetime. It is okay to seek advice from your GP, or to start a conversation with a friend or family member whom you would feel comfortable talking to about depression or low mood. There are some great, evidence based exercises (CBT) and low-intensity psycho-educational groups, that help people to manage depression and low mood, that you can often self-refer to or access through a GP in the UK.
    2) For some people experiencing low mood, being told to realise how lucky they are can actually encourage unhelpful thinking patterns and increase feelings of guilt and worthlessness. Like you say, the important message is that there is hope and things will get better :)
    3) Try one thing differently today or this week! Plan it into a diary, be specific (what, with who, when, where) and try your best to stick to that plan! Its all about trying to break the vicious cycle of thoughts, behaviours, and feelings that feed into low mood. Changing one will impact on the others!
    4) Exercise – this is a difficult one, as it can be so helpful for the brain chemistry that is affected but can often just feel too overwhelming to even try. Start with a small, achievable goal. Make specific plans and try to stick to them!

    Reply
  4. Kiran

    This was a great post! There was a study done by psychologists who gave participants five different tasks to complete daily. They found that the condition where participants wrote down five things they were grateful for everyday significantly increased their subjective happiness rating. I have started doing this too, I used to miss writing in a journal but when I picked it back up again I realised that writing about all the negative crap wasn’t helping me at all. Plus, when I went back to read what I wrote it would just pull me back down again. I think it is very hard to recognise when you are depressed, and often others notice the change in you before you do yourself. This is such a useful post, with a great message and that quote from ER is one of my favourites. Loving your blog, you’re stunning and your content is so diverse and interesting x

    ALittleKiran

    Reply

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