I started this blog two months ago. I was sick of hearing Millennials talk about how much life “sucks” in your twenties. I was afraid that my friends weren’t even considering that happiness is always an option… even when everything seems bad. So I published 20 ways to be happy and since then I strive to make every other post I write bring happiness. I want to remind people that life is so good if you let it be.
It was recently brought to my attention that happiness isn’t so easy. I realized that I keep on pushing this concept that you can make a conscious decision to be happy, however, people who suffer from various illnesses don’t consciously choose to be upset. It’s a chemical imbalance. That’s when I realized that everyone who reads my blog couldn’t possibly know my own story and history.
Baby I’ve been here before / I’ve seen this room and I’ve and I’ve walked this floor / You know I used to be alone before I knew you
I know that depression is a rough battle to fight. I understand that you can’t just wake up one day and be happy. I’ve been there.
For a solid 8 years, I battled all kinds of demons. In high school, about two years after my dad passed away, I became so paranoid that I wasn’t able to go to bed until sunrise. I spent the entire night pacing around, scared to death something would happen to someone. After two of my friends passed away in college, I was so depressed that I spent days crying in bed… I didn’t go to class, talk to anyone or eat. Each traumatic event took it’s toll on me – I was miserable. Friendships were ruined because I refused help, my dignity was lost and I seriously thought that happiness was impossible. I didn’t tell a soul how I really felt. I was too embarrassed. Ever since my dad died, everyone told me how strong I was. I didn’t want to let everyone down by admitting that I needed help.
After about two years of serious mood swings and battles against depression, I hit rock bottom. One of my best friends dropped me from her life because I was too much work. I’m not sure if she thought that I was acting this way for attention or just sick of me refusing help… but she was gone. I had no more options – I conquered my fear and went to a psychologist.
Ever since my dad died, everyone tried to get me help. It was overwhelming to me. School psychologists, child psychologists, school counselors, art therapists… it was too much. I was sick of telling my story over and over again. With each new person, I had to start from the beginning. I felt so guilty about my dad’s death and it was too painful for me to relive. So I ran. I ran away from every single professional looking to give me one-on-one help. I would go for one session then disappear – I wouldn’t show up to the second. I spent many classes ducking into the bathroom because I knew that they would look for me. I preferred being in a group and thought that I would be fine with group therapy… but it only allowed me to hide behind other people’s emotions instead of working on my own.
So here I was… twenty years old and finally getting the help I needed. Within the first session, my psychologist diagnosed me with PTSD. While it was terrifying for me to have a name for this extreme paranoia, insomnia and overall depression, it was the first step to my recovery. From there, we could fix it.
Here’s where my idea of making a daily conscious decision to be happy comes in. When I was going through therapy, I had to relive a lot of shit I would rather avoid. Reliving everything only meant that I became more paranoid and upset. I knew I couldn’t last in this mindset so I taught myself to count a blessing everyday. I made a conscious decision to take at least one minute a day and devote it to reliving happy memories. It was tough… some days I really had to think to find something worth being happy about… but I always found something. There was always something worth living for. From there, I took other small steps towards happiness. I admitted to my family that I never got over my dad’s death and needed help. I realized that I broke key relationships and I apologized… to my friends, my sorority sisters and most of all… to myself. I forgave myself for all of the shit I did in the past. When I finally got over my past, I restructured my life to allow for happiness in the present. I ditched friends who didn’t have good intentions, found roommates that I loved and surrounded myself with a group of good people eager to contribute to my happiness. I lost my fear of being emotional and told people how much they meant to me. I allowed myself time to be selfish and took up dance and improv. I was finally happy.
It didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it took a solid two years after seeing my psychologist before I considered myself stable. But everyday I made the decision to take one more step in the right direction. I trained myself to think this way. As I write this, I promise you that I’m 100% happy in life. My dark days are far behind me… and I have therapy to thank for that. You guys, it’s possible to be happy.
So I know that sometimes I can generalize and make it seem like happiness is right next door… but I also understand it takes work. My intention is not to be unsympathetic to anyone’s circumstance. I just want everyone to know that you have one shot at a beautiful life and you deserve every bit of happiness. Get yourself the help you need to allow yourself the ability to live a happy life.
You deserve it. I promise you… you really deserve it.