February 12, 2015

Choosing Happiness

Whenever I am depressed/angry/frustrated/overly emotional, my instinct is to sit on the couch, cover myself in a blanket, and watch episode after episode of Gilmore Girls, The Tudors, West Wing, or some other comfort show.  I'm not one of those people who grabs the nearest comfort food and eats; when I am feeling down, I usually forget to eat.  I don't want to leave the couch.  I just want to snuggle with my blanket and my dogs.

Two weeks ago, I was in the midst of one of those moments.  That day, I had met with the ordination committee for a second ordination interview, only to be told for a second time that I wasn't ready, that they would not ordain me.  I was frustrated, angry, and depressed all at the same time.  That afternoon, I'd played Monopoly with Colin and a friend in an attempt to get my mind off of things.  But now I was all alone in the apartment.  Vegging seemed like a fantastic idea.

Vegging was the option I frequently took.  It's easy.  It's comforting.  It allows you to feel better in the moment, to forget whatever it is that's bothering you.  There's nothing wrong with vegging with things are bad.  

But then I looked over to my sewing machine and my most recent project.  It was a peplum blouse that I had eagerly been working on the day before my interview.  I was particularly excited about this blouse, because I'd made it twice before, and was in love with the pattern.  Not only that, but the blouse's fabric was a cute cotton print with bicycles on it.  All that was left was the finishing, my least favorite part.  Buttons, buttonholes, and hems.  Blerg.  

I decided to sew.

It may seem like a small thing, deciding to finish my blouse instead of laying on the couch.   But when you struggle from depression, like I do, and you find yourself feeling down, you have occasionally have a choice.  You can take the comforting route, the easy route, and feel momentarily better.  But I've found that later, I don't feel better at all.  I lecture myself for being lazy.  I think of all the things I could have accomplished.  And all the good feeling I got from snuggling with my dogs and watching Gilmore Girls vanishes.  

Choosing to sew, wasn't simply choosing to do something instead of sitting on the couch.  It was choosing to not let my depression overwhelm me.  It was choosing to push through the bad feelings and not only be productive, but feel productive.  It was choosing happiness.  

Now don't get me wrong - feeling down and being depressed are two different things.  But for someone like me, noticing that moment when you are feeling down and catching it before it becomes something worse can make all the difference.  When you are deep in depression, that decision is not even there.  Sometimes, the depression has already overwhelmed you, and you can't even imagine happiness, even when it is close by.  Choosing to be productive is not an option, because you are drowning in emotions that you cannot control.  But sometimes, occasionally, you are given a gift.  You are given that choice.

And that night, I chose to be happy.  

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