Today I am fighting mad. I took a dip at the weekend and fell into one of those treacherous depressions that sneak up on me from time to time, seemingly despite all my efforts at self-improvement. It was quite bad but only lasted a day. In that time, however, I snapped at my daughter and made her cry. I did, however, apologise to her and made it up with her, which offered some redress. I started to worry though that perhaps I had everlastingly damaged our relationship but my wife reassured me that this was not the case. The relationship I have with my daughter is firmly secured on very strong foundations. Not that I take it for granted. One of my progressive goals is to be and remain a loving, supportive father. The same goes for my role as husband too.
I was annoyed with myself afterwards though. But I didn't fall into the trap of continuing to beat myself up about it. I've learned this much. You have to move on, learning from the experience. I feel I'm back on track now and ready to kick ass, as they say. I'm determined to head off these depression attacks at the pass, to take a preemptive strike - strange how I'm adopting a euphemism of modern warfare. A gentler metaphor would be that the way to overcome darkness is to hold up a light, and that is what I am determined to do from now. I have made such progress already, changing my life for the better, and that can continue. Every time from now on that I get even an inkling of a negative thought I'm going to blast it with what has now become my mantra: "I am very happy." Throughout the day I keep topping myself up with that thought. I do not want to fall into a black hole again if I can do anything about it.
I was reminded too of a concept that I came across in the writings of a self-improvement guru, Dan Millman. He coined the expression unreasonable happiness. What he means by this is that one of your main goals in life should be to be unreasonably happy, not basing your personal happiness on circumstances. Most of us measure happiness in this way and that's perfectly logical and reasonable. The trouble is though that circumstances are subject to the whims of "outrageous fortune" and can't be guaranteed. You're basing you happiness on something that is subject to change and loss. So the thing to do is rise above this and cultivate a perspective of unreasonable happiness.
This does not mean that you should become aloof, indifferent and uncaring. I think in fact that quite the opposite effect would happen. I think you would be better placed to be responsive to others because you would be operating in an empowered state and more able to give. Certainly, when I am suffering with depression I'm not much use to anyone, including myself.
I was very moved recently to read about the French poet, Robert Desnos. He died during the Second World War. He was an inmate at Buchenwald concentration camp. He refused to buckle and remained unreasonably happy until the end. He would go around the campsite, encouraging people who were bound for the gas chambers by opening their palms and predicting future happiness and a long life for each of them. A cynic might deride that as merely offering false hope and certainly it had no basis in reality but I can only applaud such strength of character, such courage and such unshelfishness, and hope that I might emulate that example to some degree.