Shockingly, approximately one in six Americans take some kind of antidepressant in the United States. Depression is real. This is equal to 242 million people in America. I see it in my own family, and if I am going to be perfectly honest, I deal with it in myself.
However, there is something else that plagues so many of us as well. To a lesser degree, other than a clinical diagnosis of Depression, is the daily struggle to stay positive. It can be difficult to stay clear of the negativity that can sneak into our brain, and then slowly seep out into our actions. Negativity can create a sense of simply being unhappy, feeling gloomy, or as my grandmother used to say, feeling ‘the blues’.
We are constantly bombarded with negativity; the daily news, our bosses and/or co-workers, money worries or the political climate. The list could go on indefinitely. I’ll stop here as I think you get my point.
Sadness is a human emotion that we all feel from time to time; it is a natural reaction to a situation or a temporary feeling due to a current situation. Sadness is one of the normal emotions we feel along the continuum of emotions. When we each look back over a period of time, we should be near the middle of the continuum of emotions during our daily living and hopefully, with a positive lean towards the happiness end. Sadness is okay, but what happens when that feeling never seems to go away?
In several of my past blogs, I’ve touched on some of my own battles that led me astray in staying mentally healthy. The months following the death of my beautiful brother Conrad were extremely difficult. I grieved. I questioned my own mortality and why I even bothered to make an effort when life is so short.
Do you remember last month, when I talked about there being a ‘Black Moment’ in a book; that moment in time when we feel that there may be no hope? Well our lives have ‘Black Moments’ as well. If it were not for my wonderful husband, and a group of friends who support me, I could stay in those real life ‘Black Moments’ a lot longer than I do.
Looking back, I have written a lot of poetry during my own ‘Black Moments’, expressing my feelings with the use of a pen. I think that reflecting on this may have been the driving force that led me back to writing. Some people might call this “collateral beauty.” What rose from the ashes has resulted in deep, meaningful characters who have found their way into my books.
Now, I can see the varying degrees of sadness in many of the characters that I have created. All of my books contain a ‘Black Moment.” As an example, let’s take Ian, from Ancient House of Cards, who is the walking definition of sadness. Ian is troubled with a mother who failed to see him for who he is, has an ex-boyfriend who is toxic to his well-being, and he is unable to make appropriate choices because his mind is filled with negativity Ian, at times, seems to have no hope.
What I want to give in my writing and throughout my life is ‘Hope’. Yes, it can and it will get better. Yes, you do have choices in life and you do have the power to choose. Father Morales (Ancient House of Cards) made choices that led him to positivity and a good place in life for himself. It was hard, as he experienced great pain and sadness, but, in the end, he chose happiness.
Being in law enforcement for over twenty-seven years, I was a lot like Ian. The day-to-day task of my job was negative. The totality of the job eventually began to cloud my thinking in how I viewed the world and specifically, people in general. I tried yoga, meditation, morning walks, anything I could do to combat being in a constant state of despair. This is part of the reason I love making New Year’s resolutions; to rid myself of unhealthy behaviors that have developed over time. It is a conscious choice to reset the mind and the desire to stay positive and healthy. I find that making resolutions renews my feelings of hope and positivity.
I’ve read my fair share of ‘Self-Help’ books over the years. In fact, one of my favorites is ‘Awakening the Mind, Lightening the Heart’, written by the His Holiness, The Dalai Lama. Through this book, I have learned that I have to be an active participant in my positive wellbeing. There is a passage in the book that to this day, resonates with me; “It is important to identify the negative aspects of the mind, which give rise to the suffering, and try to overcome them. Similarly, we can improve the positive aspects of the mind, which bring about happiness”.
As much as I love the above quote, it’s not as easy as it sounds to do. It takes work to keep the brain healthy. For instance, I hate going to the gym, but I know deep down inside that my workout is so much more than staying physically fit. If I miss a week, and I am paying attention, I notice there is a change in my mental fitness. It’s so subtle that, initially, I often miss it.
Today, going to the gym has little to do with my body image. This will fade over time no matter what I do. I go to the gym to rejuvenate the energy flowing in my vital organs and my brain in order to keep them in tiptop shape. Additionally, every day, I make the conscious decision to stay away from negative people, as well as to not digest an excessive amount of the news.
There are a few things that we are granted in this life and happiness isn’t one of them. Happiness doesn’t just happen, you have to create it. Because, in the end, as we call it in the ‘Romance Genre,’ we all desire a Happy Ever After.
Here’s to hoping you find yours…