Aug '18 – when I get X, I’ll be happy

I was speaking to an old friend of mine on the phone last night. Just over a year ago she had no job and was single - really struggling to find or stay in a relationship. A year on she has a boyfriend she really likes and a job she is enjoying. And it was very interesting what she then said to me - "but I am still struggling with depression. It's funny, you think when you finally get that special person you really enjoy being with things will change, but you still have to cope with yourself".

My own experience has been very similar. In fact, so much of my adult life was spent waiting for that special person that would make everything all right. Finding that someone I want to be in relationship with, yet still not feeling great, has almost made life harder.

Over the course of my life I have been pretty goals led. With no doubt, some of the toughest times have come after achieving a goal - the achievement just leads to a "what now". Being in stable relationship, which was the biggest goal I had for most my life, has probably amplified that - it is a real struggle to be motivated for anything. If achieving my biggest goal is disappointing, why aim for them? And if you have no goals, how do you get through life?

Perhaps that is why the Buddhists are so into non-attainment. Being happy with things as they are. I think it is a real skill, and a very valuable one at that. Maybe that is why people also say "enjoy the journey", as the work leading up to a goal takes longer, and can be more rewarding, than the goal itself.

I don't have anything against goals though - whatever works for you really. It seems to me we're on all this earth trying to make sense of why we are here, and the fact our time here is limited. How do we make it count? To feel life is worthwhile? Some people are so busy they don't have time to contemplate this question. Often having a young family or earning a living is so much hard work there is no time to ponder these sorts of issues.

Others perhaps are wired in a different way, or do have the time to contemplate this - and it is a hard question to answer. People wiser than us have struggled to make sense of life's meaning (see meanings of life). For me, space and time is an enemy. I know thinking time, or time to work out what I want to do - on a day, let alone my life - is overwhelming to point I just want to climb into bed and hide. I struggle with holidays - too much space, and I dread being unemployed.

I am going to turn 50 in a few months. A doctor recently asked me how I felt about not succeeding killing myself 16 years ago. It was a tough question. I certainly don't feel happy about it. Plenty of times I have positively wished I had succeeded. Sometimes I feel neutral about it. Life just feels tough... for no particular reason really. I just struggle to get much enjoyment from it.

So that is the ongoing challenge. I am about to try medications again to see if that helps, but as most readers of this will realise, there aren't pills that transform the way you feel. It feels more a struggle to manage what is a chronic illness.