"If you want to be happy, be." - Tolstoy
After my most recent brush with death, I haven't spent very much time trying to figure life out. It's strange, I think a lot of times, people who go through that have these great epiphanies. "Oh now I know what I want, what was missing, where to channel my energy in life." Not me. And I used to be a great romantic. Maybe I've just almost died too many times.
I walked out of the hospital, went home to bed and cursed the entire time I was in recovery. Not on the outside. When my family (who worries about me) calls, I'm "great". My girlfriend kept asking me "How do you stay so happy and positive? I'd be going mental." Truth be told, I kinda was. But I manned up. I was diligent about healthy food and taking my meds on time and going to all my doctor's appointments, even when there were four or five of them in a week. I worked so hard to get better, even when I wasn't sure that's what I wanted. I don't even write anymore.
I've gradually re-introduced myself to real life and there's one thing I've noticed. People in general are just not happy. I was talking to a kid today (like a 20-something) and asked him why did he think our generation is so messed up? My friends are smart, successful, stable, good-looking. Why aren't they happy? He said he thought the world has always been like this, but now there's more awareness. More effort to break the stigmas around mental health and allow people to be honest and get the help they need. That's the answer you'd expect from someone young and optimistic.
Y'all know I've been through a couple of bad depressions. This time though, I didn't go back there. Maybe I was just in survival mode. Maybe I've done such a good job on my positivity campaign that I've even fooled myself into thinking that I'm happy.
I had lunch with my girlfriend today and she said: "But Margaux, you don't have any problems!" Okay buddy. I have news for you. I've had some bad years. Every year I think things will get better but they don't. 2016? Don't let the door hit you on the way out. I got very, very sick. I don't have a job. I dated two guys in the past year, really liked both of them. I hate online dating but I met them both in real life. Everything was great, until out of the blue they each dumped me for no reason they cared to share. If I don't find a job soon I'll probably have to pack up my dog and either be homeless or move back to the Maritimes. It's scary some days.
I think the trap of the idea of "happiness" is just that we think we all deserve it. And we deserve to feel it ALL the time. Of course, if I could wave a wand and make everyone in the world happy, I would. But that's not the world we live in. Even if you get that job you really want, or the guy you want to marry, the kids, the financial stability, the health...every day it's still going to be up to you to get up and decide if you're happy or not. It's really not our circumstances, it's our mindset. I'm not trying to downplay depression and anxiety, I know all too well that they can be consuming. I still have old JW-life nightmares when I wake up scared and confused and I don't remember what happened to half my family, to my husband. After a few minutes it comes back and I realize this is my life now. I have to get out of bed regardless.
If I had to go back, I'd make most of the same decisions all over again, with a few tweaks. Knowing you're doing your best and being true to yourself - that's a big part of the Happiness Project. We all need to work at it. But if you do it long enough, it doesn't really seem to be so much work. :)
Here's something that makes me happy: pink hair. If I wasn't afraid I might actually get called for an interview one of these days, I'd keep it. Find whatever it is that makes you happy. When things are good, smile all day. It won't make the bad days go away, but it will give you something to draw on to get you through to tomorrow.