So, there I was sleeping on a lumpy, single mattress on the floor of my friend’s townhouse. Crying myself to sleep every night too empty to bother eating, too broken to pretend to be happy any longer. I was exhausted from pretending all day at work, because as a hairdresser I should be the entertaining one, the one who listens, who asks questions, who councils my clients through their problems. I should be outgoing and funny and understanding. But now I think about it I’m not sure how long I was pretending. Because one day I was fine and then one day I couldn’t cope. Everything was coming crashing down. I was taking on board everyone else’s problems, I was stressed from work. The pressure of managing a city salon, it was my sole responsibility to make sure this huge salon was making money for someone else. I was looking after a team of eight stylists, making sure ‘my girls’ were happy and confident and successful. I felt maintaining all my relationships was becoming too much responsibility. Be a good employee, boss, girlfriend, daughter, sister, friend.
It was worsened because my boss just didn’t understand depression. I remember leaving work one day because I couldn’t cope. I rarely ever had sick days so this was a big deal for me.
“What will you do if you leave?” she asked. “I’m going home to bed.” I told her, it was the only thing I had the energy for. I didn’t want to leave that room, I didn’t want to wake up in the mornings, I lived like a zombie.
“Don’t do that. Go for a walk, that always makes me feel better.” She replied as if I was just feeling sorry for myself and a stroll in the sunshine would be just the ticket. That afternoon she sent me a YouTube video of a motivational speech telling me to ‘CHOOSE HAPPINESS’. Well fuck. Why didn’t I think of that!
One year later and I wake up every day and I actively choose to be happy. Not because that video inspired me, in fact at the time it made it worse. It was like being told to snap out of it, to stop wallowing in self-pity. But I must choose to be happy because it doesn’t come naturally to me anymore. I hope one day it does just like it used to. I hope one day I get to just feel like me again. Until then all I can do is keep trying, keep making conscious decisions to look after myself. I chose to come off my anti-depressants early, they had done their job. I didn’t feel depressed anymore but I wasn’t happy either, I just felt numb. This year I have had four jobs, moved to a new house, reconnected with friends, rebuilt my relationship with my partner, adopted two beautiful, furry, little brothers and most importantly I have learned to talk to those close to me, all in the pursuit of finding my happiness.
Some days I still struggle in social situations, the most insignificant comment can send me off into myself again, but I try to catch myself. This morning I was looking out over the bay, the sparkling water looking back at me. I took a took a deep breath, and even though I have nothing to really worry about I can still feel that stormy ocean in the pit of my stomach. But I try every day to be happy. With every job and every day and every person I speak to who has been through the same thing I feel the weather settling and that ocean is beginning to calm. I get better at ‘choosing happiness’. I get closer to becoming me again.
Be fearless in the pursuit of your happiness. And if that is too much right now, all you can do is try, and try again tomorrow.
Until next time.