What does happiness feel like? It’s a question I often ask myself. The answer continues to elude me. One of the symptoms of depression is the inability to feel happiness. For me this happens during depressive episodes and when things are back to normal. Even when I am feeling “happy” I’m never really sure if it is true happiness or pretend. One of my favorite bloggers, Jenny Lawson, from The Bloggess has a saying that I often remember to help get through bad days. That saying is “Depression Lies” (BTW go check her out at http://www.thebloggess.com, she cracks me up and I can totally relate sometimes. If you like her blog she also has a book that had me laughing to tears.)
Depression lies is a great way to describe what depression does to someone. During an episode I feel like I will never know happiness again and get no joy out of anything. I feel like I’m worthless and am a huge burden to my family and friends. I also feel like a terrible mother and that my daughter deserves so much more that I can give her. I become self absorbed with these thoughts and almost become a ghost in my own home. These feelings can quickly spiral out of control until I feel all alone in the world and I shut down. If someone asks how I’m doing I tell them I’m fine.
Through therapy I have learned that talking about what triggered the episode can help bring me out of it, but figuring out that trigger is sometimes really hard for me. Plus when I already feel like a huge burden that last thing I want to do is burden someone with my trivial problems. But I’m working on it and it is getting easier to talk to someone without the guilt. I am also getting better about learning my triggers so I can avoid the episode completely someday.
But back to that elusive happiness, sometimes the best perspective on happiness can come from a child. In a conversation with her dad about unicorns, my three year old daughter told him that it’s not that unicorns don’t exist we just haven’t found them yet. It is a profound idea from a three year old. I was reminded last night of this and how I can apply it to happiness. Happiness is my unicorn. It’s not that it doesn’t exist, I just haven’t found it yet.