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This topic is currently very sensitive to me. With my dear friend’s recent suicide, I believe this contributed to her depression. Therefore I feel the need to reiterate. The path to happiness, the quest out of depression, is personal.

No two people will find their peace in life in the same manner.

For some, it will be religion, for others, it will be family, or friends, or finding their passion and embracing it with open arms. It will be similar for many people, but two families are not alike, two friends are not twins. As people are so vastly different, so must their journeys be.

This means that you cannot force your path to happiness on anyone else. You cannot tell them that the only way to happiness is “blank”. It is simply not true, and sometimes it can even make things worse for others.

I will say that those of religion are often the biggest offenders in this matter. I believe that it is because religion gives many people such a sense of peace that they do not see how it cannot give others even a small piece of it. The path to happiness through God or through religion is often so dramatic, so instant compared to the others, that it is easy to see why one would believe that it is indeed the best path.

And while I will not go into the folly of an absolute religion, those who tout theirs must realize that many people find their happiness in other religions, in other methods. There are people who found their happiness through Christianity. Some through Judaism, Buddhism, even Atheism. Some found their happiness through their family, some through their best friend or lover. Some have even found it in solitude, in passions such as acting, running, or painting.

The paths to happiness are as varied as the people seeking them. Always remember to keep that in mind when helping others on their quest. You cannot force them onto your quest.

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I recently finished reading Zen And the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss. I liked it.

I approached it with an open mind, and I enjoyed the read. The idea of the book, at it’s core, is that to be happy you must realize that the Universe is looking out for you and regardless of what happens, it is the best possible thing that can happen to you.

Or, in other words, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

I loved the emphasis on this, and I loved the story examples the author gave. I loved that the author mentions using this method in his drug rehabilitation center especially. [Even though many people didn’t.]

I loved the mention to drug rehabilitation because as an aspiring Psychologist, it was very helpful, and I believe that it is a far more effective treatment method than many therapists use, especially in the case of drug rehabilitation. This is largely because of my own personal experience. I went to a treatment center that included drug addiction as well as other at-risk behaviours. They taught there the ‘rule of thirds’: One third will recover, one third will relapse and one third will die.

Very depressing stuff, hearing that constantly, always wondering which third you’ll be. They also largely focus on shame and making the patient feel bad for what they did. While it is good to feel regret for their bad choices, regret and guilt are two different things. Guilt can be toxic, and the more loving philosophy would, I believe, benefit the patients much better. With the belief that the Universe is looking out for you, recovery can be a much more relaxing place.

On the other hand, there are definitely some cons as well.

Zen and Buddhism only play a minor role in the book, which is misleading based on the title. While it covers the subjects in a broad sense, any practitioner [or practitioner to be] should take it with a grain of salt. It does not mention a lot about meditation or mindfulness, [though the argument can be made that he is talking about mindfulness in the philosophy of ‘everything that happens is the best possible thing that can happen’].

It is also simply written, which can be either good or bad. I didn’t mind it, but sometimes it took him some time to get to the point of what he was trying to say. He often spent more time sharing his personal stories than explaining his philosophy.

It’s definitely more of a philosophy book mixed with a disjointed memoir than a How-To. Which to me, was fine.

I don’t believe any ‘How-To’ book on Happiness is anything more than philosophy with some direction anyways.

3.5/5 stars. It’s a quick read, and I got it at a discount. Worth the read, but there are better books out there.

So due to an amusing turn of events (and a mild challenge), I ended up dressing in an androgynous style. Part of it was because my friends didn’t believe I could, but part of it was because I’ve always been obsessed with Androgyny. In my last article titled ‘Sex‘, I discussed gender binary and my belief that it’s no ones business but your own how you identify and portray yourself in terms of sex and gender.

But I decided to give the whole thing a bit more thought. My obsession with androgyny is linked to my gender identity, but not the whole picture. Part of the reason, I believe, that I like the idea of being able to look androgynous is rooted in the fact that I like to pretend to be someone else.

Not just role-playing or acting, but being someone else. I have always used the metaphor that I wear a mask, and while thinking about it, I truly do. While I think on it, I wonder how many of my friends I know and truly trust to see the real me. Not many. In fact, very few.

And a part of it, I believe is my unhappiness with myself. I will say flat out that I have a hard time believing that my friends will accept me for who I am.

Because I am quite convinced that they will not.

That I am somehow damaged, odd, and abnormal in such a way that people will not like me. That I am annoying. A freak. I know that many of us feel this way.

But the issue of showing who we are to those we love is an important one, because if we don’t trust them enough to see who we are, there is no way we will ever know.

So I encourage you to share yourself with your friends. They may surprise you.

If nothing else, it may be the proper reminder that you need to go out and find real friends. Those who can’t accept you for who you are are not worth your time.

'Masks' by Seraphim Azriel '07

Identity is more than how others view you, however. It is how you view yourself. Happiness in your friendships and your identity comes when you feel that your identity is accepted by those you love. When you’re afraid that they will not accept you, whether it is because of a history of such actions from others, or from your own fears and ideas about how society is, then you will be unhappy.

So many of us, myself included, will wear ‘masks’. These faux-identities that we believe people will accept. My most common one is a happy, ditzy, hyper and, let’s be honest, somewhat stupid individual. Another one is a hardcore woman who doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

Both ‘masks’ are a part of me, but neither are the whole picture, even together. When I am hiding the whole picture from people, I am not letting them accept me. And I believe they recognize that. Those who do not get to see the whole picture keep their distance just as you keep yours.

So, in an effort to take my own advice, I am going to be sharing this blog with my friends. And I will admit, I am positively terrified to do so.

While I said I am only going to do five a night, I have some catching up to do and I’m feeling down. So here goes!

Goals will be five for tomorrow, five for the week.

I am thankful for: the oppurtunity to meet new people, making new friends, actually getting to hang out with a female friend, Applebee’s Bahama Mamas (YUM!), having a working car, having enough money to pay for the things I need, having a steady job, my success so far in running my own business, that my writing books came in, that I have a warm house for the winter, that I am going to be playing D&D tomorrow, a brother that will text me when I don’t show up, amusing webcomics that update on time, a mother who makes dinner, preparing food to eat in advance, friends who will help with my goals, my brother getting married in three months, his amazing fiance, winter clothing.

I am: beautiful, interesting, funny, intelligent, witty, charming, friendly, successful, capable, well-read, informed, active, talented, stylish, well dressed, likable, creative, inspired, curious, musical, casual.

Goals: Tomorrow I will: Finish my article for freelancing. Write a post for my main blog. Write a post for my fiction blog. Write 10,000 words for NaNoWriMo. Have fun hanging out with my friends.

This week (by 11/27) I will: Get up to 45,000 for NaNoWriMo. Set up my game plan for next week for marketing. Prep all necessary marketing. Finish Reading ‘Productive Writer’. Exercise every day.

While I was reading up on the blogs I follow, I stumbled upon Carol Tice’s article titled How to Eliminate All Your Freelance Writing Obstacles.

Despite that the article is intended for writer and may not apply to everyone, it has a very important idea in it. If you’re feeling miserable, most of the time you need some perspective.

It’s a simple concept, but she goes on to talk about one way to gain perspective is to make a gratitude list. Just in time for Thanksgiving, too.

Basically, gain perspective in life by saying what you are grateful for. Simple. In fact, it’s something that I’ve been made to do before. When I was in treatment, every night we would write 5 ‘I am thankful for…’, statements, as well as 5 ‘I am…’ statements and 5 ‘Tomorrow I will…’

It’s a silly idea, but a good one, and I’m going to start doing it now. I’m going to start doing it every night. Right now, however, I’ll just make a gratitude list. Feel free to join me in this, the only snags: for ‘I am…” and ‘I am thankful for…’ you cannot repeat yourself within the same month. Mind, you can use synonyms and such, but you can’t write the exact same statements on either. It helps self-esteem and perspective and keeps you from becoming robotic with it.

I have a wonderful family and friends, that are supportive of my career path and goals.

I have an amazing best friend who loves me for who I am and is willing to listen to me about everything.

I have an awesome brother who will let me ramble and cheer me up through jokes.

I am fortunate to make enough money to support myself and put myself through college.

I have wonderful, cuddly cats that like to sleep with me.

I am achieving things that I didn’t even know I could do- through my own choices and determination.

 

That’s it for now. 🙂

Alright, so this experiment is going to be similar to the Happiness Project in a lot of ways. If you don’t know what the Happiness Project is, it is an experiment on how to be happy by Gretchen Rubin.

There is one major difference, however. Gretchen didn’t start her project as a way to cure depression or any mood disorders. She just wanted to be a happier person.

Unfortunately, there is a difference. I will examine many of the same techniques she did, but they were designed to make the average person happier. Most of these will not necessarily make someone with depression or bipolar disorder happier because these are psychological disorders. Many times, there are even chemical reasons.

They can’t be fixed by little notes on your mirror. Those can help, but they don’t fix it.I’m looking to treat it as effectively as medication would, if not more so.

So the methods I’ll be using include vitamins, exercise, diet and meditation, as well as various philosophies not only from self-help books, but even from fiction. Yup, I’m gonna see if the idea that going on an epic adventure to get a magical item will help me be less depressed. Maybe I’ll even save a town in the process. Hey, It could happen.

I am starting by altering my diet, adding both St. John’s Wort and Fish Oil vitamins. I am avoiding processed sugars where possible (natural raw sugar instead) and generally eating healthier.

Since starting, so far, I have been better, but I am still sensitive. I am still not entirely willing to talk about why certain things are upsetting me with anyone, really.

Without Fear by Jennifer Ellison

No, not “Why the Depression Adventurer is for you!”, but more “Why did you pick that name?”

To be honest, it’s part nerdy and part philosophy, and that’s a lot of what you’ll get from this blog. I’m a huge nerd and I’m also big on philosophy, so… Let me explain.

Philosophy:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely player
William Shakespeare, As you Like it

and

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep out faces towards change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
Helen Keller, Let Us Have Faith

These two quotes kind of cover it all. Life is an adventure. Even the little things are important. When you think about how boring your life may be, keep in mind that you could always equate it to an adventure.

That term paper that needs to be turned it? An adventure. A personal challenge that you have to face to grow. Even giving your cat a bath is a big adventure. Especially if they aren’t de-clawed.

Nerdy-ism

It totally makes life more awesome to imagine that your favorite shirt isn’t just a nice shirt, but a  +5 shirt of awesome-ness. I play Dungeons and Dragons, RPG video games and I read more than my fair share of fantasy and sci-fi. The term for the protagonist is not always ‘hero’, but it is almost always ‘adventurer’.

This is because while some people may not like you, while some people may even hate you because of the ‘side’ your on, it’s still life. The heroes in these books aren’t always loved wherever they go, they sometimes cause destruction or mayhem, but they’re still always called an adventurer.

So this experiment is also an adventure.

Adventures in Depression by the Depression Adventurer. It amuses me. 🙂