Of Being Happy and Mindful

I am happy today.

I am so happy that my anxiety, and depression are temporarily gone from my awareness. It’s different.

Something else is different too.

For the first time in my life, I am not afraid to say that I am proud of the fact that I am happy. I don’t have to make excuses and downplay my happiness, like I’ve always felt like I had to in the past. I could never tell people positive things about me because of how afraid I am of others judging me for being happy as a depressed person.

In group today, I told Jenny and Brandon that I love them so much that it hurts me tremendously to see them both in the darkness, still struggling to climb out of the pit of depression. I told them that I felt really sad that Jenny have been victim shamed so much in her life that she can’t even bring up the topic of sexual assault or even believe that women are right to talk about their survival with her significant other, and that Brandon felt that he can’t feel okay with who he is. I recognized their pain because I was just a few months ago, steeped in it. I’ve been through all the shit, and muck, and though I still visit the pit from time to time, I’ve also been spending a lot more time in the sun lately.

I told the two of them (because only 3 of us attended group today) that I didn’t want them to misunderstand me – that for a moment, I didn’t want to tell them how I felt because I was afraid that they would judge me as ‘hypocritical’. I felt hypocritical because back when I was in the thick of depression, many supportive people have told me that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That there is hope. At that time, I had scoffed at every single one of them and in my mind, had resolved that none of them knew how I felt. I refused to believe them because I didn’t think that they’d understand. That no one would.

Now I’m more stable, and can cope with my difficulties better. And I suddenly realized that I now know what those well-meaning people had been saying to me. I knew now that they weren’t just saying words to make me feel better but rather they really believe it.

I said, “I decided to say what was on my mind anyway even though a part of me felt like a hypocrite but I trusted… Or at least, I hoped that you two would get what I was saying, and where I was coming from. You both have seen, and experienced me at my lowest. You know how much I’ve struggled. So I hoped that you’d hear my message and see it as coming from someone who did go through shit and who did do all the hard work to come to this sunny side. And it is my hope, I am so so hopeful that you two can feel this way too because it hurts me so much to see you two struggle. I want so much good for you guys!”

Of course, I cried. I got very emotional and I explained that I didn’t know why.

T offered an explanation, “Jules, when you said all those things to Jenny and Brandon, I could tell that it came from your heart. That you genuinely wanted good things for them. And in saying those things, telling them that their issues are valid, that they’re worthy to feel the way they do despite what others have told them, is also in the same way, self validating. You were also talking to yourself, Jules. You told yourself that you were worthy, and that you were valid…”

What he said struck me. He was right. I was validating myself too. And that’s why I got emotional. I still have trouble telling myself good things without crying. It’s so emotionally impactful for me that I can’t do it without the tears.

Later, I shared with Brandon how I’ve been able to climb out of the pit – it was that I had built a support system around me who would remind me from time to time that I’m doing well, and that I’m heading the right direction. I told him that it’s all and well to be able to self validate, but to also receive such recognition, and encouragement, is huge. I told him that I felt so much stronger now because I have recognized who my people are.

I then told him how much of a privilege it’s been for me to watch him grow, and to see how much he’s grown. He used to be high strung, philosophical, cold, distant, and so stressed out. Today, he sat there with an even temper, and was able to participate in the conversation without even once going to the philosophical arguments. He was vulnerable, and allowed himself to be, and he was accepting of all the feedback he was given. I felt so proud of him. When T asked me how I felt towards Brandon, I said, “I feel so good. I feel so privileged to have seen such a huge change. It makes me extremely happy that you are reaching that point, and are working so hard yourself. I feel so much affection for you right now. It’s almost like you’re my little brother, and you’ve done so much good work!” I wanted him to know that his hard work is being recognized. It made me feel so happy to be able to say that because not only did it impact him, it also rebounded and hit me with the fuzzies.

Just before group, the Director of the Office of Health and Wellness said to me,

“When you learn to love yourself, those who love you will come back around to you. You don’t have to acclimate to others. You are a square trying to fit in a round hole. You’re not meant to fit!”

The Health and Wellness Promotion Coordinator then added,

“Those who are for you can’t go. Those who are not for you, can’t stay”.

Those two things have changed my life today. The words reverberated through me and I felt the anxiety that has been holding me back all this time ebb away. I was so afraid of losing people, and losing good times, that I was willing to settle for mediocre just so that I don’t have to rely on only myself. When I heard all that, I learned that I could let go, and the world will still revolve… And somehow, that helped me let go today.

It helped me stay uplifted, and positive.

So much so that I went and watched Power Rangers at the theater by myself. I was giddy with excitement because I felt like a child again, and Power Rangers was one of the more positive aspects of my childhood. I remembered how hopeful, and strong I had felt every time I watched the show. Watching the movie today reminded me of that. I also felt that the interaction between the characters to be similar to what I’d felt for Jenny, and Brandon today. It felt good. They feel like family.

I also was able to learn that when I love myself, it makes me love my partner, Cherie, even more than I already do. It made me secure in our relationship, and I am not worried about a thing right now. I confessed to her, and to group that my relationship has been going well – despite some fights – and it’s been going on so well that I have consciously caught myself thinking, “Wow. This is going well. Now what can I screw up so that I can go back in the pit again? What can I do to make it so that I feel depressed again?” I’m so used to being in the dark that being in the light feels strange, and uncomfortable. I know that now.

Today has been one of those really mindful days for me. I’m just so aware of my life, my speech, my actions, and my feelings. I don’t know if it will last or not, but I am hopeful that even if it doesn’t, that I’ll be able to handle it and turn the negatives into good growing experiences.

Why I Don’t Want Happiness

Is it crazy for me to say that I don’t want to be happy?

To me, happiness is a vanilla. So bland. So boring. So… Fleeting.

The opposite of depression is not happiness. It’s vitality.

I want something more than happiness. I want inner peace. I want to be able to wake up every day without the “mother” screaming at me for being lazy and pathetic, without the teenager being angry and angsty, without the child feeling fearful and needy, without the rational adult feeling like she’s going to collapse at any second from all the abuse and exhaustion of holding everyone together. I want to wake up every day just being me – with all parts intact and at peace. The “mother”, proud and happy to have a great “daughter”, the teenager, calm and energetic, the child, secure and safe, the rational adult, strong and steadfast. All of those parts of me – not happy, but rather stable.

I want to live. Underlying all of the death threats that I have given myself, underlying all the hopelessness, the despair, the pain… I am not afraid of death and would gladly welcome when it’s my time, but I don’t want to rob myself of that time. Despite the suicidal thoughts that’s ever creeping closer to being more than just thoughts, I want to live.

I hope that the next time I’m in the throes of despair and suicidality, I’ll come back and reread this. I can see a little glimmer of hope shining through, especially after today’s session with S. I can see it. It’s a glimmer, but it’s there.

 

Update: Oh wow, this is my 200th post on here. The timing is impeccable!

Why I’m Not Posting As Much

I know I promised to write a summary of what I’ve learned from my therapy session a few days ago but I really can’t get around to doing it. With all the studying I’ve been doing these past few days (can you believe it’s only been a week?) and all the other things I’ve been trying to fit into my life, it seems almost impossible to get to writing a long thoughtful post. I will try not to drop off the face of the Earth and hopefully soon I’ll be able to write a meaningful post.

For now, I just wanted to drop an update here so that people know that I’m still around – just trying to chug along. Things have been good and bad for me these past few days and after the few good days (I could actually tell you that I was happy – a foreign concept that I was very surprised by) but the bad days are beginning. I’ve been pretty down all day today and there has just been some circumstances in my life right now that I can’t really talk about which when added to my already moderate anxiety about school is threatening to tear me apart.

And course, when it rains, it pours. My psychologist, S, is away for the next two weeks and it’ll be another 17 days before I will see him again. He and I have set up some steps I could take or things I could do to help myself through the next 17 days but at the same time, I can’t help but feel like things seem to be worse whenever he’s not around – when he is around, some days, I go to therapy and have nothing to talk about and end up meandering around a topic that I really didn’t care to talk about because it really didn’t affect me all that much. Then when he has to be on leave or goes on a break, suddenly, everything important floods in to my life.

The only thing I think that’s really keeping me going is the fact that I am getting more social interaction than I used to – having friends and a loving husband helps tremendously – a fact that I never used to believe. I used to see myself as a lone wolf who is able to survive on my own but now that I have a pack to be with, I don’t ever want to be alone again. It took me 4 years to get a group of friends I can trust and love. Now that I have found this group I can be intimate with (we’ve only known each other about 3 months but we’re the best of friends – brought together by a common goal and similar family backgrounds and all of us suffering some type of mental disorder or atypical condition or other), I can’t imagine life without them. Although my husband has been a great source of strength and love, having these friends brings an entirely new dimension to my social interactions and I realize now how important a support group is.

That said, this still doesn’t stop me from feeling like I’m a burden to my new-found friends and a burden to my husband. I know Depression lies – I know that it tells me that I’m not worthy of love and that I’m a burden but at the same time, I can’t shake those thoughts yet.

I might have to go see a clinician tomorrow at a walk-in session at CAPS tomorrow just to get stuff off my chest and prepare myself for the rest of the week. Not being able to see S is really difficult and I do hate to admit my dependency on him but if I had to be really honest, I would admit that I need him.

Anyway, this was supposed to be a quick update post but obviously, I started to contemplate things a little bit. I hope everyone else is having a better time than I am – I hope that I will be able to find that happiness that I’ve had for a couple of days last week back. I haven’t felt as peaceful and calm as I did in those days for a while now.

An Example Of A Good Day – Brief Post

Today had been an example of an extremely positive, good and stable day. It’s the kind of day that I want to have everyday despite feeling terrified of it and still wanting to cling on to feeling sad.

I will definitely write more later as I have a lot of reflection to do – both on this day itself and the therapy session that I’ve had – but for now I’ll leave you with this.

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As some of you know, I’ve been attending a series of mental health awareness workshops held on campus called the “Lifesaver Mental Health Series”. Today’s session was on “Cultivating Resilience”, co-presented by the Coordinator of the Office of Health and Wellness Promotion (HWP) as well as the Assistant Director of Outreach and Partnership of the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). I really love these two people, despite only knowing them for the short time during these sessions. They’re well informed, friendly, passionate and just really fun to talk to.

I had an amazing time learning about resilience and learning this really important life skill. I hope that I can keep practicing it and I can help share this with others so that we can all learn to be more resilient in life!

In another post, I’ll talk more about what I’ve learned and how you can also learn resilience.

The only sad thing is, this was the last workshop. I really enjoyed having conversations with people about mental health and hearing other people’s opinions and ideas! I am super interested in getting more experiences like these in the future and I hope to be able to have a chance to share so that others can be helped too!