I watched the 1994 classic movie “Interview with the Vampire” recently. In it, Lestat (Tom Cruise) gives Louis (Brad Pitt) a choice after he loses his wife and daughter: die from sadness and despair over the loss of your family, or live forever as a vampire. Louis goes with the vampire option, which may or may not have been the best choice. But however you look at it, he made a decision he will have to live with for, well, eternity. Thankfully for us, unless we are faced with the same dilemma, we don’t have to worry about eternity, which should make it much easier to choose. Because there is always a choice.
I was depressed for quite some time, and didn’t know how to get out of it. I felt so lost and so alone, and kept ruminating over the same negative things over and over, keeping myself in a downwards spiral. One afternoon after picking my daughter up form kindergarten, we were sitting at the dining room table, drawing. She was her usual three year old self, talking and laughing, and I remember looking at her and feeling nothing. Absolutely nothing! I was dead inside. I thought: “I could walk out on the balcony right now and jump”. We live on the 6th floor, I would not have survived…
Think of the most scary thing you have ever experienced. And I don’t mean roller-coaster fun scary, but afraid for your life, gut wrenching scary. That’s how I felt at that moment. I decided there and then that I had to get help. I chose to deal with my depression.
And my point here is: however grave the situation, however difficult, however scary, there is always a choice, and you have the power to change things. Don’t like your job? Look for a new one. Stuck in a bad marriage? End it. Have a bad sugar addiction? Stop eating sugar. But you have to want it! Don’t try to quit drinking coffee, if you really enjoy having coffee. Cut back, but don’t try to quit. Don’t set yourself up for failure, but make sure that whatever it is you want to change, you want to go through with. It might take you months to get ready, to get mentally prepared for the option of change, but commit to one small piece at a time. I started therapy, I took a mindfulness course, I looked into how to use your breath to control anxiety, I started exercising, I cut back on sugar and started eating better. Slowly but surely one choice after the other made me feel healthier.
Things probably won’t change overnight. You might not even know what the right choice is for what feels like forever, but give yourself space, listen to what your gut tells you, take the small baby steps in that direction. If you veer of the path, correct your course and continue. Sooner or later you will get there, you will have arrived.
Originally published at www.thehappinessdetective.com