When asked how I am doing, I can once again say “I’m doing good.”
I know this because I am making plans again. When I was circling the drain, I could not envision a future. Heck, I was having trouble seeing the edge of the drain. And feeling up against the wall made it almost impossible to see or feel anything. Making it through the day was often the high point.
When I am really depressed, getting out of bed is ever so hard.
And then as evening arrives, I am thinking of any excuse at all to get back to bed. It might be 8 PM and the sky is still light, but I am already thinking of reasons why going to bed now is a good idea. Often, I wouldn’t even spend the effort to think of an excuse to go to bed. I would just say, “I’m going to bed,” and then I would go to bed. End of story.
Right now, I am doing OK when it comes to going to bed.
I can stay up and work on projects or watch a TV show. There have been some opportunities to visit with family recently. I have been able to enjoy those times, without plotting how I can get the visiting over with so I can get to bed.
When I went to see my psychiatrist for a medicine management session, she was excited to hear that I was once again planning future activities. She felt that was a very good sign. And I do not disagree with that. In fact, I had been noticing the change in myself even before she asked about it.
And believe me, I am not discounting this change at all.
Yet for all the work I have done, the help I have received, and the progress that I have made, I do not feel happy. Perhaps that is asking too much.
I see being happy as a “like to have,” not a “must-have.” And perhaps that is why I do not have it. And this leads to the question of do I think that I am worth it? Do I see value in myself? Am I putting on my oxygen mask before helping others?
There are times when I find myself smiling, even chuckling.
Most of these are the times when I see pictures of my 1-year-old grandson. Covid pushed my one and only visit with him forward from his birth to his 10th month. Being with him, was a happy, happy time. And the coming months include additional visits with him.
At work, I put on a positive face. I am the poster child for a positive, can-do attitude. Bring on whatever you’ve got, I can handle it. And I do it with a smile, without breaking a sweat. I’m the go-to guy for many things. Employees approach me with issues because they know I will do what I say.
However, this takes a tremendous amount of energy.
And by the time I get home from work, it seems I let my guard down. Happy, positive me is mostly found while at work. And I always deliver.
I know that my attitude, how I face events, is something I can control. It is the only thing I have complete control over. I have read SMART RECOVERY, DBT, and gone to many talk therapy sessions. I am well aware of the gift that I have, that we all have. However, right now, I do not feel that I am using this gift. Often, I negate or even ignore this power of control over my attitude towards events.
This leads me to think it is entirely my fault that I am not happy.
And if it’s all my fault, then I am a failure. I am not able to do this one thing that would set the stage for being happy. All I need to do is to change my attitude towards happiness and everything would instantly be unicorns and rainbows. My feelings of guilt for not being happy would disappear if my attitude were different.
So now I am couching everything in an unhelpful thinking style.
I am catastrophizing and casting the issue as all or nothing. These are two stand byes I have used over the years. When depression is after me, unhelpful thinking isn’t far behind. Once I thought that I only had these unhelpful thoughts when depression was being aggressive. But now I know that unhelpful thinking is much sneakier.
Sneaky and secretive, that’s what depression enjoys.
As depression’s grip has loosened over the past two years, I do not find myself taking depression’s suggestion to keep secrets. Or so I tell myself. And I must be on guard. Just because I am OK, doesn’t mean that I do not have depression anymore.
But now that I am OK, why I am still not feeling happy?
Isn’t happy a part of, OK? I get to choose my attitude, remember. So why am I not choosing happy? What am I missing that is keeping happy from being part of my day-to-day life? “I just want to be happy.”
It astounds me that my 4 days in 5 East were 27 months ago.
27 months is 116 weeks or 810 days. That’s a long time. In dog years, it’s much longer. And it is true that I have, at least on paper, made huge improvements in my life. And exciting things are happening in and around me. My health is good, and the last time I smoked a pipe or a joint was over 40 years ago. When I buy a six-pack of beer, three to four of the bottles will “go out of code” before I drink them.
My diet includes avocados, nuts, apples, bananas, many other fruits, and vegetables.
And my intake of red meat is much smaller these days. I am eating much more chicken. Partly because I can use it in salads, etc. But part of that is the current pricing due to the pandemic. $16.99 a pound for Ribeyes, or $2.99 a pound for chicken breasts. Which are you choosing? And chicken drumsticks are still 99 cents a pound.
Eating well should make me happy.
Not being up against the wall should make me happy. Having a written Wellness Recovery Action Plan should make me happy. Paying down my hospital bill from when I was retired and had insurance that didn’t cover anything, should make me happy. Knowing I can pick up take-out without upending the budget should make me happy.
I will stop here because this is not getting me anywhere.
Writing out my thoughts, I was expecting some sort of answer. Today, the answer eludes me. I will try again tomorrow to make some sense out of my being OK, but “not feeling happy.”