This was originally posted on Reddit by an anonymous source. It is a good reminder that although depression is not a choice, we do have the power to choose who we spend time with, how we spend that time and to be grateful for the things we have and the positive people in our lives.
It wasn’t instantaneous, and it wasn’t easy. I forget the speaker, but I heard or saw some kind of presentation on the fact that joy is a choice we make, not just something that happens when we’re lucky or make good choices. Because sometimes we’re unlucky, and even good choices don’t go well. So you can choose to be joyful even in bad circumstances, and over time it’ll happen.
I started cutting out negative, angry music and television and listened to/watched more positive things. I stopped hanging out with people who never do anything but drink and fuck around, and I started spending more time with people who were active and positive. I learned to recognize when I was slipping into negativity and depression. It’s ok to be angry or sad, but I stopped continuously beating myself up with those thoughts. And my depression is an illness, so I can’t avoid it, but I don’t have to feed it. My depressive periods never last as long or get as dark anymore.
The most helpful thing has been gratitude. When something goes well, or someone does something even a little nice for me, I try really hard to recognize it, be thankful for it, and to express my gratitude to the person. Recognizing the things that make me happy has just lit up my life, and motivated me to seek out even more goodness, and to be generous when I can.
And there is lots more to it– each step in a positive direction led to another, and it all compounded into a really solid framework for how I now live my life. There have been setbacks and failures, rough patches, and depression. But over time, it’s really just been a matter of making little choices toward joy instead of feeding a repeating pattern of negativity.