This post is about how I realized I was following a path in my life that was making me extremely unhappy. I was leaving in a constant state of high-stress. I was depressed, angry, and always on edge. Thoughts of self-harm were not uncommon.
I snapped regularly.
I would yell at people and treat people like shit. But, it wasn’t me.
It felt like I was watching someone else take over my body to use it to spread negative words and actions. I ended up hurting a lot of people during this period of my life.
Fortunately, for me I got out of this slump. And, when I did it was like coming down from a trip. The stressed mindset just disappeared and I was able to reevaluate the past year or so of my life from a new perspective.
I was able to do this reevaluation essentially by myself. I view depression and stress entirely differently than I did before I experienced it (or before I knew I was experiencing).
I want to share what I did in hopes that it may help someone else change their mental status.
- Turn off TV
This is about reducing the negative inputs in your life.Watching TV doesn’t make me happy. It numbs me. Then it dumbs me. The shows aren’t for me anymore. I am passed that stage in my life.
The TV is designed to make you unhappy. I consider it mind altering substance. I would categorize it as a depressant. The more you use the more you need it to be “happy.“ Before you know it you’re watching dumber and dumber shows.
For me it wasn’t hard to stop watching TV because I grew up on movies more than I did TV. But, I gave up watching movies as well. I’m sure most people reading this don’t watch TV, they have Netflix. In my opinion, Netflix is just a higher quality version of the TV-drug.
For other people it may be hard to quit TV because when something becomes a constant habit in your life it’s not easily given up. People use it to eat, as background noise, or simply to “relax.”
My suggestion is to use music for background noise instead. Or try to fall asleep reading. If you aren’t a reader it takes some time getting used to it. I know the transition was hard for me. But stick with it. Like anything else it gets easier the more you do it and you get better at it.
- Go For a Walk/Hike
Just get out of the house. The easiest way to do this is to just go for a walk.I was lucky I live right across the street from a large open space area. In the middle of the night I would go out there to be alone with my thoughts. I would just walk and keep walking.
Sometimes I would go out and walk for three hours a night for many nights in a row. That might seem like a lot, but when I was at my worst it was either that or suicide. Three hours doesn’t seem like much when it gives you your life back.
You don’t have to go for that long. 30 minutes is plenty long. Maybe there is a park nearby you can walk to and then around. Maybe you can just walk around some city blocks in your neighborhood.
For me the point wasn’t walking. It was to have nothing else to do but sort my thoughts. The walking just kept me going. Kept me on track.
I prefer to be alone when hiking. Obviously I am going to recommend what I prefer. This is again the steps that I took to get happy.
- New Friends
I wasn’t myself. I was a depressed, angry, asshole version of myself. I had lost some friends because of this. And the friends I had growing up were always busy at different times.I knew it wasn’t their fault we couldn’t hang out. So I decided to get more friends. More friends means more people to ask to hang out. More variable availability.
I like to travel so I used the Couchsurfing app to find local events in my city. Luckily, there was a weekly one. I decided to go. I put myself out there.
Now I have friends who I hang with regularly that I met through this event. We’ve gone to music festivals, hiking, lots of concerts, and just hung out bar hopping.
It felt a lot scarier going in than it was coming out. I was scared. But relaxed after a few introductions. Everyone at these sorts of events is there because they want to meet people. Go to events where people want to meet people.
- New Music
All the music I was listening to at the time reminded me of times, people, and events from when I was over stressed and depressed. I couldn’t have that anymore.I went out in search of new music and I have an entire catalog of music that I am currently in love with. All of which I found only in the last few months.
I love the new music because it doesn’t remind me of anything.
Everything I was reading about how to get happy mentioned the meditating and journaling (the next topic).Since they were both consistently recommended from a variety a different sources (from self-help to how to excel in business).
I have been using the Calm app to teach me how to mediate.
In the intro I talked about how I felt like I was coming down from a trip of some sort. It’s like for the past year my mind had been working in an entirely different way. I was realizing that now.Luckily I had started to journal, although inconsistently. I was able to go back and reread how I was thinking and how I was feeling.
The odd thing for me with this was when I reread what I had wrote somewhere inside me the depressed angry me knew that wasn’t who I was. I was writing about how I was being a complete jerk. I was writing about how I needed help. I was writing that I didn’t know what was going on with me.
Later, when I figured out that I had been over-stressed, it all made sense. It’s not too little too late though! I feel, in general happier than I have felt in no time that I can remember.
- Go Barefoot (optional)
This one is recommended as optional. I just really like nature so going barefoot helped me be more in touch with nature. It made me feel grounded in my world while it was literally turning upside down.
What did you do to realize that you weren’t happy? And, what did you do to fix it? I would love to know. Leave a comment.