Thought of the Week: I Think I’m Happy…What Should I Do About It?

I'm not insane…

I’m not crazy…

Those of you who’ve been following me for a while might be aware that beneath the surface of joviality and fun is a pretty lonely, disturbed and frankly mad person. I’ve struggled with untold mental illnesses since my teens (literally untold – no one’s told me what’s wrong with me yet). In fact, look out for some poems from those dark periods of my life coming up on here in the near future. I’ve been depressed, miserable, suicidal even…and it’s become so ingrained that it’s now a part of me – defines me, even.

So what on earth am I supposed to do when I don’t actually feel like that at all? For the past couple of weeks I haven’t felt the influence of darkness on me at all. At first it was pretty welcome, but now I’m beginning to get scared – what’s wrong with me? Even worse, what’s happened to what’s wrong with me?

~

“This is such an unusual feeling that I have no idea how to cope with it.”

~

I can’t exactly tie it to any one thing in particular; the new drugs I started on recently, some subconscious breakthrough in therapy, the fact that Mrs. Satis hasn’t been yelling at me all the time…who knows. It’s been a remarkable influence on my home life; things just feel good, as though there’s just nothing really wrong in the world. We went for a wonderful walk the other day in a nearby botanical garden, and it was lovely, even though we got there late, were tired, and didn’t even get to see a whole lot of flowers (there were some really incredible flowering trees, though).

Just of a taste of the blooms at the New Jersey Botanical Gardens.

Just of a taste of the blooms at the New Jersey Botanical Gardens.

We went out to breakfast last week, and had a conversation. Wow – a whole conversation, like where we both get to talk and listen to each other!

Things are going well at work, too; new positions are opening up, I’m getting to do a lot of what I enjoy, and the people I work with are fabulous.

I’m so freaking scared!

This is such an unusual feeling that I have no idea how to cope with it. Even when I get upset, it doesn’t last – I pull out of it almost right away. I want to say that I feel stable, which ironically feels incredibly unstable given that I normally am unstable all of the time. I can’t tell if it’s a good feeling, if it’s normal…I can’t tell if it’s a kind of bipolar high that I’m going to come crashing down from soon.

I think that these are some of the things that are particularly frightening me the most. The downs, the deep, dark black pits of despair that I wallow in for days on end, despite their comfort and familiarity and allure, are terribly damaging to my relationships and those around me, and as much as I crave it I also fear it. On this “high” (for lack of a better word) I feel able to see the effects of the downs more clearly, and I just really don’t want to go back there.

In fact, this sense of pseudo-panic is leaving me so upset and disturbed that I think I might be crashing because of it. Does this even make any sense? I feel like a complete lunatic, or completely doped up. Everything’s so right it’s wrong!

What do you think? Is it possible to become depressed because you’re happy?

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11 thoughts on “Thought of the Week: I Think I’m Happy…What Should I Do About It?

  1. Yep. I have a deeply ingrained suspicion of happiness, which was further ingrained when I dated the guy I loved but didn’t marry. (We’ve talked about that, right?) Then I dated the guy I loved and DID marry, and then I realised that with the first guy I had been happily miserable, but with my husband I was miserably happy. A year in, and even the “miserably” bit is starting to fade, but you’re right–it’s darn disconcerting!

    • Hm… what a choice: miserably happy or happily miserable. I wonder if you could splice them together and just get miserably miserable. I’m glad you’ve found happiness of some kind, though – it is important.

      • It is important. But weird/difficult to get one’s head around.

        I’m glad you understood the nuanced differences between the choices . . . sometimes I feel like not everybody would. Although I was pretty sure you’d get it.

  2. From the perspective of going the other way, just once (meaning that I was on the brink of a severe, completely debilitating depression) I can tell you, the fear is real and it’s something I deal with every time I begin to get sad, stressed or angry. How do I avoid it? I recognize the good times and the good feelings for what they are and I practice (and I mean actively practice) and pay attention to what makes me feel that way so that I know where to go to get back there. Happiness comes by being fully aware of what makes you happy. And when you find it, sit back, breathe, and enjoy it for what it is.

    • A very astute observation. Being aware of the things that make you happy (or sad, for that matter) can be invaluable in identifying how to recover those feelings. The difficulty is in bring yourself back to the “good” when all you see around you is darkness. I will give it a try, however – thank you.

  3. After a period of losses, I began to believe that just about the time I got my feet back under me, I would receive another blow – – so much so, that I started dreading when the weeks turned into months that nothing really bad had happened –

    It takes time to adjust when you’ve been through the wringer – One metaphor I came up to help myself was this,
    “Remember when you moved to the new house and the bathroom door was where the closet door had been in the previous house and vice versa? And how you’d walk into the closet to go to the bathroom and curse? Remember how it took awhile to remember which door was which?

    Same thing – – just an opportunity to retrain residual patterns that are used to showing up to help you – even if they aren’t helping – they think they are!!

    Best wishes on your ‘transition’
    🙂

    • Thank you – that’s actually a very interesting and helpful metaphor (or is it an analogy?). I think retraining my brain is the biggest issue I’m having. It’s what I’m taking my medications for, what I’m going to therapy for. My hope is one day I’ll just simply find balance. I think that’s really all anyone can hope for.

      • Yes – I believe you’re right – I’m also reminded of a line I read in a cosmology or physics work – it was talking about how living systems grow and evolve (whether the universe, or your body) – it said any living system will grow to the upper limits of it’s current capabilities and prior to breaking through to the next level of growth and expansion there is a period of chaos that occurs when the system is not quite ready for the next level, but to overgrown to fit within the old one.

        Hence, there is always chaos before breakthroughs – –

        Whether true or not, I care not – looking at life this way helps me handle the ‘chaos’ much better! LOL

  4. I was scared (ahem, terrified), too, the first time I came out of a long (at that point, lifelong) depression. It didn’t seem real, and I was afraid I would turn into one of those callous people who would never get depression again, or that it would change me fundamentally, that I would no longer be myself. And…sometimes being happy for the first time can make a person ruminate on the darkness more (it seemed, now that I was happy, that this was the best time to end it (when would I have another chance to leave on good terms?). My simple advice from personal experience that may or may not work for you: let yourself be happy when you are happy. Don’t fret about when/if the happiness will end. If it does end, or if you go through a bad day, or week, or month, don’t assume that the happiness will never come again. It will. Swings are natural, but gradually the good days got more frequent than the bad days (even though they still occurred), gradually I learned how to be content when I was neither, and eventually I figured out how to get out of the bad and prolong the good, and not let the bad or the good be all encompassing. More importantly, eventually I realized that my moods were not who I am. My old experiences didn’t go away or become null and void, and my new experiences didn’t fundamentally change who I was or how I perceived depression or other forms of mental illness. The same things are still important to me, my values have not changed, and I have never once told someone who was depressed to “just get over it”. You’re still you. You’re just not used to feeling okay or happy, but you’ll get used to it, and it won’t change who you are. I promise.

    • I’m really touched by the depth of your reply here. I think you’re very much right, and of course it’s true enough: you’ll get better, you’ll get worse, and that’s pretty much the way of things.

      Nonetheless, it can feel overwhelming when things just suddenly change, and nothing’s how it was (whether the change is for better or for worse). It’s interesting that you mention your moods aren’t you; it’s something I might have to bring up with my therapist, because I sometimes feel that if I didn’t have the depression and darkness, there wouldn’t be anything left.

      Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness, and your openness in sharing your own story.

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