A Dose of Happy
We had a meteorological anomaly occur here in Texas a couple of weeks ago. We had some arctic air from Canada push south and give us 77 degree (Fahrenheit) high temperatures in July. Now, up until then, I had never considered myself a fan of arctic air from Canada. Polar vortex, anyone? However, here in the swamps of East Texas, July generally brings with it highs in the upper 90s (Fahrenheit), and when you add in our humidity, that's pretty rough.
Of course, the upper 90s are nothing compared to what we've been gifted with in August and September here these last few years. Remember Tropical Storm Lee, that left most of Texas burning? Yeah, minus the fires, that kind of drought and heat is our normal August and September. So I generally don't complain about the upper 90s in July, because as hot as that is, it ain't nothing to a Texan.
So when we got that arctic Canadian air a couple of weeks ago, I got all happy. In the pants. I did the happy dance. My happy dance scared the neighbors, so I had to come inside and dance with my dog. Thank heaven she is used to me, and just wagged her tail because she knew that a treat would be forthcoming after I was dizzy from dancing with her.
Then the arctic air retreated back to Canada where it belongs, and we went back to business as usual. Until I saw something weird on twitter. One of the weather geeks I follow tweeted a picture of a map of the USA that showed east Texas in a blue blob next week. While 86F may not seem that cool to a lot of people, here in the swamps of East Texas, a forecast of 86F on August 1? Does not happen.
Except it just did. And it has me shopping for puppy treats so I can get my dog to do the happy dance with me.
This has been a long time coming.
Months - if not years - of untreated depression, followed by years of depression treated with therapy. Then an all-too-brief period of remission before a slip back into depression that happened both slowly and all at once, so I didn't even realize it at first.
It was different this time. I looked okay on the outside to all but those closest to me. I wasn't having a breakdown every day or pulling the car over on the drive to my friends' house to cry or to throw up. I was going to work.
But this time, I was tired of trying.
I put all that effort into getting better through sheer will, and it didn't stick. I was frustrated. And though I absolutely didn't want to kill myself, I needed everything to stop. I needed to be done.
I didn't let on how relieved I was when my therapist suggested we re-visit the idea of medication.
It took a few weeks, of course. The transition wasn't that bad. An acute breakdown caused by stress at work, which was unpleasant but okay because I'd dealt with that intense depression attack before. Then a slide back into the all-pervading guilt. But then one day I woke up feeling happy.
A fluke, I thought.
Then it happened again.
I'm on day four now, and I feel like I can function. I don't feel stressed, I don't feel guilty about absolutely everything.
Some things didn't change. My coworker still drives me insane. My friends can be boring. My dog needs too much attention. But these things don't drive me to the brink of giving up. They feel like standard downs of life, to balance out the standard ups I've been re-experiencing.
I love the ups.
I almost feel like I don't deserve this, but I know that undeserving feeling will go away as the medication continues to work. It feels strange to be able to sit here on a long weekend, doing nothing, enjoying the cloudy, wet weather. It feels strange to enjoy doing nothing, for that matter. It feels almost too good for me to see a cute guy at church and decide to go talk to him. Do normal people enjoy life this much? I'd forgotten.
It's a simple enjoyment, but it feels right.
I don't want to go back to the way it was before.
What, The Band, has made you happy recently?
Hey The Band!
I know we all hate Mondays, they just suck, I know. But let's try and change it up a little bit and do a happy post!
I have a few things to be happy/grateful for:
1. My son is talking up a STORM! All of his speech therapy is definitely helping. Now he never stops talking!!! It is still hard to understand most of it but he is talking nonetheless.
2. My therapist asked me to write myself a congratulatory letter of all of my accomplishments, put it in an envelope with a stamp, and give it to someone to have them mail it to me at a random time. Doing this made me see that I actually have accomplished a lot and have many things to celebrate. Small things, big things, all things I never saw before she pointed them out. Like, being able to go outside with my son for 15-30 minutes at a time. I wouldn't have been able to do that a few months ago due to my agoraphobia, but I am working on it and slowly but surely, I am able to do what may seem like small things to some that are actually quite huge to me. Yay!
3. I recently went on a five hour drive to New York for a family vacation and I didn't freak out and die! Yay again!
4. I am alive and well, that is always something to be happy about!
Let's try and make Mondays less sucky, what's your dose of happy??
This is for all of us who are with The Band that have ever thought about ending it.
I know you've heard people tell you your life will get better. I also know that, right now, you may not be able to see that. So, through the tears I'm shedding, I want to tell you a story about what just happened.
First, I need to give you a little background. When I was a teenager, I dated this boy we'll call Steve. Steve suffered from severe bouts of depression, and his struggle with self-harm was a huge impact on my own. He would tell me he saw no purpose in life; no future, and happiness was not worth seeking out because it made the pain that was sure to follow so much worse. After his suicide attempt, he still didn't seem to be getting he help he needed, and we finally fizzled out after his apathy led to infidelity and the inability to maintain any sort of relationship.
We lost touch over the years, but recently he sought me out on social media. And I honestly didn't even recognize him. The pallid, dead-eyed boy that I had shared so much pain with when we were young was now a clean-cut young man with smiling eyes and a grin to match. Going through his photos told me most of what I needed to know, and he soon filled in the gaps. He'd stopped drinking, gotten a job, and married one of the most gorgeous women I've ever seen. And that's not an exaggeration. They have the most beautiful baby boy, a house in the city, and a simple, yet happy life.
After our initial message exchange, we didn't chat too much. But today I recieved a message out of the blue that he was going to be in my town for the afternoon, and would like me to go to lunch with him and his family. And that, The Band, is why I'm crying right now. But not because I'm sad. I just got back from seeing him and meeting his wonderful little family, and I am filled with so much hope. If he had succeeded in ending it when he thought he wanted to, he would be missing out this amazing life that he had never thought possible
And that's it. That's the kind of proof I need. When the darkness gets so suffocating, so impenetrable that we can't even fathom there ever being light again, that especially is when we need to hold on til tomorrow. Depression tries to tell you that tomorrow will hold nothing but the same emptiness. But no one, not even the monster that is Depression, can possibly know what tomorrow will hold. So please hold on, The Band. Because no matter how hopeless today may feel, I've seen with my own eyes that things can, and do, get so much better. Keep this in mind, and keep it close.
Because I know you can find the life that you were meant to live.
Junior High/Middle School is a tough time for most kids. I certainly had my struggles. I was far from popular, was picked on for being "poor," and wanted nothing more than to get out of there and onto high school where I believed life would really begin.
Which all boiled down to me being pretty depressed and sad most of the time.
Finally, my mother had had enough of my moping and sat me down on the bed in her room. She made me read aloud the little counted-cross-stitch design hanging on her wall. It was a paraphrase of an Abraham Lincoln quote:
We are as happy as we make up our minds to be.
She explained to me that happiness is a choice. It doesn't matter what life throws at you. You could have the worst luck in the world, but you always have the choice to determine how you're going to deal with it.
You could let life beat you down - turning you into the cliched crotchety old man threatening young whippersnappers with a shotgun to stay off his lawn. Or, when you find yourself knocked backwards, you can dust yourself off, take a deep breath and put a smile on your face.
Everyone has SOMETHING to be thankful for. When life becomes difficult, think of the good things. Maybe your good thing is that smile from a loved one that says "I'm so glad to see you." Maybe it's the feel of a cool breeze on your face. Maybe it's as simple as realizing that you woke up this morning still breathing and with your heart still beating.
Whatever you go through in life, find the good things, and let them bring you joy.
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