*I wanted to write a part 2 and 3 before this, as I feel the parts should come in chronological order, but I felt the urge to write part 4 tonight. It’s being posted out of order, so bear with me.

So it’s been several months, and the worst is over. After hearing from countless friends that you’ll be fine, for the first time, you actually start to feel it, unbelievable as it sounds. You wake up not thinking about her. You’re excited with new hobbies. You meet new people. You haven’t seen her in weeks, and you don’t miss her as much. You think – finally, it’s happening. I’m getting over her.

And then one day some random thing sets you off – a Facebook photo, a text from her, you see her getting cosy with a new guy – and you crash. Bad.

It’s particularly damaging because it’s not just feeling bad, but it’s falling from an elevated position right back down to ground zero. You start to question your progress. You start wondering if maybe everything you’ve done up to this point was just for show, that maybe you haven’t moved on from the time when you first got dumped.  Suddenly hope fades, and you wonder if this is ever going to change.

You know what? It’s okay. Life just sucker-punched you. Wallow in your depression for now. Indulge in it.  Take as much time as you need. It’s fine.

I say that because I believe that half of how we feel is affected by external circumstance, and ultimately, out of our control. Breakups make you feel sad and depressed. Winning the lottery makes you feel happy. Most Malaysian politicians and drivers piss you the fuck off. It’s normal.

But our minds have a kind of psychological immune system. What that means is, regardless of whether we go through an extremely happy or depressing event  (with the exception of a trauma) our mind reverts back to a baseline mentality or happiness. If you read the article I just linked, there was a study that showed that after a year, the average happiness of paraplegics and lottery winners remained the same.

That means that however low you’re feeling now, there will come a point in the future, a day, a week, or a month later, where you will feel slightly better than you are now. And then a day, a week, a month later again, you’d feel even better. This repeats until you reach the baseline mentality, and it works inversely for people who are happier than normal too.

And when you start to feel a little better, this is the point where the other half of how you feel comes into play. This is the half that you can control. It’s the crucial point that separates people who are positive, and people who are stuck in a depressed cycle.

Happy people, when they start to feel better, they spend that energy reinforcing this feeling. They play motivational music. They exercise. They indulge in a hobby. They spend time with friends. It’s uncomfortable, and it takes a lot of energy and courage to do it, but they do it anyway.

Depressed people on the other hand, recognise that when they start to feel better, push that feeling away. They know that it takes less energy to maintain this cycle rather than break out of it (remember, our psychological immune system is still trying to get us to our baseline, regardless of how we’re feeling) and stay in their comfort zone. This is why I believe some people choose to stay in depression; it’s easy and takes less energy to maintain.

So again, when I told you to indulge in your feelings earlier, it’s because I understand that sometimes, things set you off and you crash. It’s okay to wallow in self-pity for a bit because we honestly feel like shit. Just be honest with yourself and own up to that. Forcing yourself to pretend like everything’s fine is unhealthy.

But eventually, you’ll genuinely feel a bit better than you do now, and when that happens, you have two choices: you can either ride that wave of happiness and speed up the process of getting better, or you can choose to reject it, and continue to wallow in self-pity.

When that time comes, which will you choose?

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