There was a brief time in my life when I experienced depression – or not, depending on your definition. Some might define depression as a lifelong struggle that requires medical treatment. If that's your definition, then I was never depressed. What I mean, however, is that when this state of mind occurred in my life there were months when I felt depressed, felt sad and woebegone.
I had been teaching for ten years, but, as the student population began to decline and as my subject area began to decline even faster, I became redundant to my school. I will never appreciate the way in which I was told. The principal stopped me in the hall – in the hall if you please – with the typical good news/bad news scenario. The good news was that I had a job: the bad that it was at another school – out in the county, a rural school to which I would have commute. It would also involve some teaching outside of my subject area. At the time, particularly in view of the manner of the telling, it was hard for not to see it as a form of rejection. Of course, it was strictly a numbers game and nothing personal, but it sure felt personal at the time.
When I got to the new school in the following September, I was greeted by less than ideal circumstances. Up until then, I had always had my own room, but in this school my six classes were held in four different rooms. One of the rooms was my department head's. Most of the time, he wouldn't even bother to acknowledge or greet me when I came in. He was insane. He really was and admitted as much years later after he had spent time in prison for attempted murder. It wasn't easy, you see. I was wrenched away from a happy situation and plunked into a highly miserable one.
So, yes, I was depressed, to a greater or lesser degree, for maybe six months. Eventually, I escaped into a fantasy land – well almost, or the next best thing. I went to Narnia in the CS Lewis chronicles, and then I went to Middle Earth with hobbits and elves and dwarfs and other manner of creatures. I can remember crawling into bath or bed and devouring The Lord of the Rings in every spare minute. It was a total holiday and escape: not really total because I still had my day job, but it felt close to total as long as I was in Narnia or Middle Earth.
My reading didn't stop there. I also read a book about depression. The thrust of it, as I recall it now, was that for most people (those not clinically depressed), happiness is a choice. Oh, it probably gave all sorts of advice about how to get from one state of mind to the other, but I can't remember any of that. What I did get was that for me happiness is a choice. While, I have never taken it in a Pollyanish sort of way, I did buy into the essential concept.
I have found that it works. To an extremely large degree, I am responsible for my own attitude and my own happiness. I don't go through life with a silly and giddy expression on my face, but I do experience much contentment and very little dissatisfaction and envy. Although I can't remember when the last one occurred, there are days when a black mood comes upon me, but I try not to permit these moods to last for very long, and it has usually worked for me.
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
Some things in life are bad,
They can really make you mad,
Other things just make you swear and curse,
When you're chewing life's gristle,
Give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best.
Always look on the bright side of life.
Always look on the light side of life.