As I type this post, I'm watching Kadi's episode of Supernanny that I had Tivoed. Did any of you watch it? So neat to see someone that I kind of know (or at least feel like I know since I've read her blog). And I'm totally stealing the hearts idea - writing something positive for each child to give it to them at dinnertime. What a great way to focus on each child as an individual!
I've been thinking a lot about people's perceptions of me. Many people that see me on a regular basis will comment on my constant smile. They seem to feel that since they see a smile all the time I must just be happy all the time. It's really funny to me that people perceive me like that. I have major clinical depression. I have gone through serious bouts where I've been unable to even get out of bed. I have gone through therapy. I am on medication and accept that I will need to be on it probably for the rest of my life. I also have no doubt that over the years my medication levels will probably have to be readjusted. I constantly have to focus on my energy level and making sure I don't get overwhelmed, since those two things are usually the first indicators of having problems with the depression.
In college I read a quote by Abe Lincoln, "People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be." It really changed my life. I know for me and for many other people there is a chemical imbalance to contend with, but I also know a lot of times I have to make a choice. If I don't take care of myself, especially when I end up staying up too late, I have a hard time coping. When I have a hard time coping, I get overwhelmed. When I get overwhelmed, I end up staying up too late. And the cycle continues. If I'm tired I often have trouble getting off the couch or away from the computer. I have to push myself, make the choice, to get up and get moving. When I don't, I end up feeling so bad about myself and my day.
I make a choice to keep a smile on my face. It's not always easy; there are plenty of times where I have to make a very concious choice to take a deep breath instead of reacting, to not show my true feelings for fear of scaring my kids or my students or of alienating the people around me. I make a choice to smile. And a remarkable thing happens. Just like Anna in The King and I sings about whistling a happy tune when she feels afraid, "for when I fool the people I fear I fool myself as well," when I keep a smile on my face I often "fool myself as well" too! It's an amazing thing.
So people will continue to comment about my perpetual smile, my constant-state of happiness, and I will continue to make the choice to KEEP that smile on my face. I know I'm faking it sometimes, but I'm still making the choice. And most of the times, even if I'm NOT feeling happy, I can often fool myself into believing that things are okay.
Just watch out for those few times when you DON'T see that smile!