Today, I went to the psychologist and realized I had nothing to say. I was on my way over there, thinking about what I wanted to discuss with him and I had an epiphany: I’m happy.

The dictionary defines happy (hap-py) as:

1. delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing: to be happy to see a person.
2. characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy: a happy mood; a happy frame of mind.
3. favored by fortune; fortunate or lucky: a happy, fruitful land.
4. apt or felicitous, as actions, utterances, or ideas.
Check, check and check. I’m happy to see my friends and family (and I acknowledge the stress they sometimes cause); I’m full of contentment and occasional joy at the simple things in life (a christmas tree overdecorated with goodness, an afternoon playing boardgames and snuggling with the BF); I am favoured by fortune in that I have a great job, with great colleagues and an amazing boss; and I believe that I am felicitous in my utterances and ideas (though sometimes they are expressed with doubt and/or sarcasm).
My shrink and I had a discussion about how zen I am today, and he suggested I write down what it is that has made me happy. Last year at this time, if you’d asked me what makes me happy, I would have told you that I didn’t remember because it had been so long since I’d felt anything but unhappiness and stress that I couldn’t recognize happiness anymore.
This year, I’ve made so much progress on the happiness front that it borders on the ridiculous.
  • I learned how to sleep again, and do so with relative easy and amazing regularity. I also know how to get myself back on the sleep train when I start to fall off.
  • I got a new job with regular hours and no after hour work. I’ve worked roughly as much overtime since the end of february as I would have in a weekend in my old job. My management structure respects work life balance and practice what they preach. Sure, work isn’t perfect, but hey… it’s not called going to “fun”.
  • I learned how to play squash and developed a whole network of friendly women to play with on a regular basis. I’m a lot better, and though I will probably never be great, I have a lot of fun playing.
  • I reconnected with my friends and made new ones. Now when I go out, there’s no blackberry, there’s no fidgeting. I actually focus on the activity and the person I’m with, and am not consumed by the other stresses in my life.
  • I started and maintained a good relationship with a good man. Even though he can’t bring himself to say it, I know he cares a lot because he shows me every day. He even recognizes when I’m mad and makes immediate amends.
  • I started to sew. I am really not all that great at this, but I do love it. I have almost no finished projects, but that’s okay. I like to look. I like to plan. I’m just not so shit hot at executing (next year!). 
  • I developed a healthy relationship with food. Now when I’m stressed, I don’t eat a whole bag of oreos – I schedule a game of squash or eat a single chocolate bar. I track everything I eat and very rarely lie to myself about my food intake.
  • I took vacations that were really meaningful to me. A week here to make stuff, a long weekend there to go to New York. When I needed a day off, I took one. Like today – I was tired and cranky and uncommunicative last week; I took today off and my long weekend has made me incredibly zen about the world.

I think that each of the above things works together to create my web of happiness. None of these alone will make me happy, and the balance between the items may shift over time, but as a combo I think this is what works for me. Strong relationships; a job that I like and a workplace that likes and respects me; friends and family and meaningful encounters with each; creative endeavours; physical activity; rest; the right attitude about food; and the ability to tell myself that I need a vacation and take one.

Last December, I was a total mess. I was changing meds, in a really bad place professionally, and didn’t like or respect myself anymore. I didn’t really want to be here, though not badly enough to organize a plan or anything. I knew that things would turn around.

My road to recovery has been pretty short, in comparison to those of many others. It was roughly 1/4 of the length of my road to depression. I’m lucky. I’m very lucky. I can’t say it’s over for sure, because everyone backslides a little, but I’m going to say that today I’m happy. Yesterday I was happy. Tomorrow, I’m expecting to be happy.

The road to recovery has been winding, and its ongoing, but I’m kind of excited to see where it ends up.

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