Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Happiness is...

Are you a happy person?  I have friends that fall into both categories!  And I've really been thinking about this HAPPINESS thing over the last week. 

At Bible study yesterday, I revealed to a group of ladies that I take an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety pill and I call it my "happy pill".  They seemed surprised.  I think that because I am a naturally happy person (that glass is definitely half-full), that the fact that I suffer from Depression catches people off guard.  Yes, I think I can be diagnosed with Depression AND be a naturally happy person; they are separate issues.  One is a chemical thing while the other is a state of mind.  I remember when I was first diagnosed with Postpartum Depression.  I cried every day.  Sometimes several times a day.  I didn't want my boys to grow up with the mom that cries all the time.  So, I started medication.  And later I went off, but then life happens so now I'm back on.  Does the pill really make me happy? No, it allows me to be who I am. But I wasn't really sure after the discussion if I'd completely conveyed that idea. Do over!

Another thing that happened was that I have a young friend that is just accepting that she suffers from this illness. She's been coming to terms with it because it often is perceived as such a negative thing. It is a label for someone who is crazy. NOT! As she said, "It does not come from, what many people think, not enough prayer," and "It is not because I had terrible parents." I wondered if she had known that I had suffered from both postpartum and regular old depression/anxiety? I wondered if I can help?  So I reached out; I was OPEN to her so she might feel like she can be OPEN with me. 

Then I watched the Katie show all about Happiness.  It was about finding or creating a job that makes you happy; she had an expert speak to what really makes people happy; and she interviewed two ladies, one of whom was Gretchen Craft Rubin. She wrote the Happiness Project... and her book is my very next read! As I understand it, she spent a year chasing happiness in her life and this book tells the story. I went to the Katie Couric show website and took the Are You Happy Quiz. No surprise, I was impossibly happy with my life.  Finally, something else on the show clicked with something that happened last week. Everyone kept asking me last Wednesday how I did IT. I baked 4 cakes, 4 dozen cookies, made 3 main dishes (one for my family); I drove my high school student to volunteer, then to a picnic and then to school;  I volunteered all morning at the elementary school and 5-6 hours in the afternoon and evening with the high school band. On the show they talked about what really makes people happy is doing for others.   It makes me happy to fix meals and desserts for the teachers who work so hard teaching children. It makes me happy to volunteer.  It makes me happy to serve my family.  That's how I got IT done! 

I try to live my life OPEN about my depression because I want to remove that "label" or "stereotype" of crazy. I am a great person, who cares for others, loves my life, volunteers, and I suffer from depression.  I know friends who battle their depression with exercise or diet or yoga. But sometimes, THAT'S NOT ENOUGH. MEDICATION IS OKAY. MEDICATION IS OKAY. I think I feel strongly about that. I really want to live my life openly because Brooke Shields helped me through her book about postpartum depression. And my depression didn't look like hers and yours won't look like mine. But she really helped me and I have a pay it forward mentality.  Everyone travels their own road.  Along mine, I sing a little Bobby McFerrin song, "Don't worry, be happy!  Don't worry, be happy now!"

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