I have battled anxiety and OCD ever since I can remember. I have always been more shy than your average kid and more observant of my surroundings. Growing up, those traits turned into full-fledged panic attacks and anxious tendencies. Being clean and organized had its perks, but when your life gets to the point that you have to organize and plan everything to the finest detail or else you’ll feel like your world is coming to an abrupt end, it’s not all that fun anymore.
Mental illness, no matter how small or severe, is an actual problem. It is just as important as all physical ailments. Even though it may not be visible, it does not mean that it’s not there, thieving someone of their goodness and happiness. Depression is a thief and anxiety is a liar if you let them be. It doesn’t have to steal your happiness, your family, your friends and your life away from you. There are many bad days trying to find a point in it all, but there are good days, too. Good days to be grateful for.
I spent a lot of time praying that I could become a different person, more worry-free. One of those people that can leave clothes on their floor for a month and go out without knowing if they’ll have a ride home and so on. Those people never have to worry about a thing and that's all I do. It wasn’t until I realized that I can’t change the person that I am, only better myself, that I truly began to overcome my personal obstacles. Anxiety is a challenge for those who perceive things in a different way. Seemingly regular day to day things become scary and next thing you know the whole world is intimidating.
If there's anything I've learned with battling anxiety, it's that you can control it. I've always been a very observant and analytical person and I’ve learned a lot doing so, which became something that benefited me rather than slow me down. It taught me to accept what I cannot change; to appreciate all of the little things God graces me within this world. It forces me to push myself out of my comfort zone. It allows me to ask endless questions and look at things closely. It taught me how to love wholeheartedly. It taught me that running away will not solve anything. It does not define me–it’s a part of me and I accept that, happily.
“Happiness” is an elusive concept. We often tell ourselves that once we achieve certain goals, then we will truly be happy. Once we get the job or degree, or finally, get a boyfriend all of our problems will be solved. We are challenged to take the reins and find our own happiness, but many of us lack any real sense of direction that's not materialistic. We mistakenly think that one day happiness will just appear and all of the pieces of our life will magically fall into place.
Of course, there are things you can do to enable your happiness to blossom. Take a break from technology. Stop worrying about things you cannot control. Sleep. Thank people. Love yourself. Love others. And most importantly, if you're unhappy- Do something about it. Most importantly because some people assume happiness is mostly a matter of inborn temperament: You’re born a SpongeBob or a Squidward, and that’s that. Although it’s true that genetics play a big role, a good amount of your happiness level is within your control. Smile. Be more positive. Stop complaining. Appreciate life. Thank God. Taking time to reflect, and making conscious steps to make your life happier, really does work.
Don’t get me wrong- I’m no happiness guru. I've spent way more time than I'd like to admit feeding into my emotions. The biggest misconception about happiness is that we can outsource it — that something external is going to make us happy and change everything. Happiness is NOT a constant state. As humans, we experience and grow through a variety of emotions. The expectation that we should be happy all the time will leave anyone with an expectation hangover. What we can be is grateful for what we have, even the bad days.
I'd say that's living pretty happily.