Thursday, March 06, 2008

Say Cheese!

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!


Domestic Goddess said...

I can identify with this. I can choose to be miserable or choose to focus my hard-earned energy on the positives. I choose positive! I have a good life, and I'm gonna dwell on that. Forget how "awful" or "stressful" my life is. When people tell me that, it brings me down. That's why I make sure I tell them how happy I am and how happy my kids are.
Not to say it is easy (it isn't), but it sure helps my focus!

Anjali said...

It's not just your smile -- its your overall pleasantness that enamors people of you. You are kind, and thoughtful and nonjudgmental - a great presence to be around (and one that I miss, for sure).

And certainly, now that I'm so far away, I miss that smile, too!

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

Some people choose to live on the sunny side of life, others choose to be miserable. I truly believe it's a choice, and I'm glad you've made the happy one. Keep on smiling!