How I Got My Happiness Back

depression

It’s funny, you know? You can appear to have it all or if you’re really lucky, you can actually have it all. But sometimes it’s not enough; not for your lack of gratitude or love, but because your brain doesn’t register the actualities of happiness. It doesn’t understand “This is what I need, what I want, what I’ve worked so hard for.” It only vomits back “I DON’T FEEL GOOD! EVERYTHING IS GLOOMY, DISGUSTING, AND MEANINGLESS! GO EAT A LOT OF FOOD AND CRY!”

It’s not like I didn’t know something was wrong. I had suspicions I was close to the edge, but I shrugged those off as usual stresses. Besides, I’d had worries all my life, some that even registered with the DSM. I thought I had it under control because I’ve always “had it under control.” Even in the blackest of holes, I’ve somehow found a way to defy physics and light up my darkness. This time, though… this time was different. This time was above me, beyond me. And when I pushed and stretched and struggled to light up the shadows around me, I couldn’t. Sometimes I could muster a flicker, but it couldn’t hold its crappy candle to the depression.

People noticed I was different. They noticed I was sad, exhausted, angry, neurotic, withdrawn. But no one saw the depth of it, not really. They didn’t see me cry silently every day so my roommate couldn’t hear. They didn’t see me yelling and screaming at all of the things that were going wrong. They didn’t see me drowning in a sea of thoughts that even skimmed over the idea of death; not so much in a suicidal manner, but in a “I don’t mean anything to anyone, and everything is pointless, so why am I alive?” kind of way.

One day, I started freaking out when I realized how very little it would take to break me. How easily I could become even less than nothing. If I lost this or I lost that, that would be it. I wouldn’t be able to cope, and those thoughts about doubting aliveness would become believing in the soothing nothingness of death. I was no longer responsible for my own thoughts. I was merely a vessel for my fucked up brain and its malfunctioning internal responses to external stimuli.

I had to change something, but as I’d told every person who told me to just “get better,” it wasn’t as simple as that. Often and violently, I pointed out that “mental illness needs medical attention in the same vein as the flu. You wouldn’t tell someone vomiting to just ‘get over it!'” However, I knew I had to work on myself in the lag time between mental crisis and the first moments the SSRI kicked in. So in spite of myself, though I knew it couldn’t solve all of my despair, I made the effort to start trying to change what small part of my mind I still had control over. Think happy to be happy, you know? Ugh.

It wasn’t easy. It’s strikingly hard to jolt yourself out of a coma, especially when you’re not really in charge of whether you’re awake or not. But sometimes, even when you’re more feeble than you’ve ever been, your pinky finger still finds a notch to hold onto in the side of the tunnel you’re careening into. Sometimes it’s just enough of a grip for you to slowly bring up your ring finger, then your middle and index fingers before you finally have a whole hand holding on to something – anything – again.

I realized through a lot of tears and a lot of talking to my partner about getting better that it was possible to do so through baby steps, despite those steps being the ones I am worst at taking. I had to learn how, which made it seem all the more daunting and painful, but he is the one who really convinced me I could control what parts of me were left unsullied by mental disease. And so I did…

I decided to work out any time I got angry.
And I joined a gym, then spent many weeks grappling the crippling anxiety of returning to public workout life. But when I finally jumped that scary first hurdle, my body immediately thanked me. It begged for more. It started to return to its toned shape, and all my rage and fatigue finally had an outlet. It will always be a struggle for me to make it there after a horrible day, but I also know I will always be one of those {annoying} folks who just finds peace in exercise.

I decided to shower every time I sobbed uncontrollably.
And I did eventually, but it took a long time to get myself in that stall. Once I was there, I found reason. I started being able to work out some things, even if they only stayed under the droplets in the shower. For 15 minutes, I could either completely let go or completely control myself, whichever came more naturally. Both felt good. So did realizing my hair didn’t have to dread horribly if I remembered to tend to it a little more frequently. (Oh, and going to the gym more often actually required me to wash myself. Two birds, right?)

I decided to create after bad days at work.
And I found myself getting better at those creative things I love, remembering practice makes perfect, and strengthening my soul and its drive to push through for greatness. I started writing more, making more items for the shop I hope to own ever-so-soon, and I started cooking dinner for myself again. I started doing, doing, and doing, but only if it was something I wanted to create, something I thought would make me better.

I decided to laugh when it hurt. I decided to get up and sing. I decided to walk and snuggle with my dog more. I decided to eat better. I decided to get up and leave when I didn’t like the environment. I decided to forgive. I decided to let go of toxic waste. I decided to realize what a beautiful life I had built. I decided to live.

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3 comments

  1. I just sat down at my computer and I am so glad I checked in on your new blog. This morning I had trouble getting up to face the world. For no good reason, really. Thank you for making me not regret my decision today. I can’t begin to tell you how much I can relate to every word you have written. Thank you for sharing this!

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