It’s a fact that when you’re suffering from depression, you can’t just choose to be happy. It is a physical impossibility. Telling me to smile and just be happy only makes me feel worse about myself.
I’ve been assuming the same thing about optimism for these past months. I felt like I had no optimism left and so I didn’t think that there was any way to choose optimism. It made as much sense to me as choosing to be a pony. I mean, yeah sure, I could go through the motions, canter about and neigh a bunch, but in the end I wouldn’t be any more a pony than I was before.
But maybe that was a disingenuous analogy. Optimism isn’t quite the same as happiness, although I see the two conflated all the time. Happiness is a feeling, a bounce to your step, an energy and irrefutable rainbow of positivity that depression leeches away. Optimism is a state of mind and a pattern of thought. We might not be able to control our emotions that well, but we can control our thoughts. Or at least, we can practice control.
So I’m going to try something. I’m going to see if I can practice choosing to be optimistic. I’m going to see if taking the time to focus on my negative thoughts and try turning them around can create a pattern that won’t just disappear when my depression flares again.
Honestly, I’m a little scared. When we started TTC I had an overabundance of optimism. But with each successive negative cycle, it was another punch in the gut until I was no longer uncurling from each blow. Instead, I stayed curled up to protect myself. But that didn’t diminish the pain that still came with the end of each cycle. If anything, it made it worse because I was already tense for two full weeks, waiting for the punch.
I don’t want to open myself up by being falsely optimistic, but I also don’t want to be waiting for the punch the entire time. It’s a fine line to tread, and I’m not sure how I’m going to quite do it, but I’m going to try. Focusing on the eventual end result instead of the end of each cycle should help. Because at the end of the day, no matter how long this takes, I do firmly believe we’ll have a kid.
The negative aspects of all this aren’t going to disappear if I just ignore them, but maybe I can hype up the positives a bit more. Maybe I can reframe the question to get a more optimistic answer.
Like: Instead of focusing on the fact that I haven’t gotten pregnant yet, I need to focus on the fact that we are getting answers. And that no matter what, those answers will lead to a healthier me.
Like: Instead of focusing on how badly I did on the test for a promotion yesterday, I need to focus on how it would be okay if I didn’t get that job because it would be more responsibility and brain power, which can be better used in my writing. (I’m still working on reframing this one, honestly.)
Like: Instead of focusing on the possibility that even “fixed” I may never be pregnant, I need to focus on the fact that we are in the unique position of having two uteruses in this relationship and Lady may have the opportunity to try herself in another six months. (More on this later. Maybe.)
Like: Instead of focusing on how poorly the query process has gone for me in the past, I need to focus on the fact that I am a better writer now, that I have a commercially viable novel, and that past performance is not an indicator of future results.
Like: Instead of focusing on how bad I feel and how hopeless, I need to be active in cultivating my own hope and optimism.
It will be hard. It should be hard. And maybe it won’t even work. But I need to at least try.