Last May after an unusually tear-free greeting, my therapist asked a simple question: Did I feel happy?
I stood, dumbfounded, slowly taking off my coat. Oh. Wow. Is that what this feeling was?
I sat down to think. I certainly wasn’t feeling unhappy, that I knew for sure. It had been weeks since I’d cried myself to sleep and I no longer had to drag myself out of the house. I actually wanted to make small talk in the checkout line for purchases I could have made on Amazon. I was sleeping well at night and felt more rested than I could remember. But was I really happy!? Was that even possible?
I scoured my brain for things to feel anxious or depressed about but came up empty. There wasn’t a pit in my stomach or any feeling of impending, unavoidable doom. I recalled the recent sunrises and how much time I had taken to actually appreciate them. Spring was springing, summer was coming and there were so many things in the future I was looking forward to – even excited for. I think I am happy, I finally concluded. Wow!
Over the next few weeks, I got comfortable with this new emotion. “Great!” I’d respond to greetings rather than the “alright-ish” or loud sigh that had become my standard answer. I was feeling so great in fact, that it was hard to remember I had ever felt depressed at all.
One day won’t kill me, I told myself when I realized my mood stabilizer needed to be refilled. I’ll just run out tomorrow and get back on track, no big deal. It doesn’t really matter what time I take them, I rationalized another day when the morning flew by unmedicated. I was feeling fine – still great! and still happy! – so when these slip ups became a regular occurrence, I convinced myself that it was no big deal… Until it was.
So here I am once again, after a few blissful days of mania followed by months of depression, wondering if I’ll ever feel happy again. I think I can. I hope I can. And I know one thing for sure – if I do, I’m taking all of my medication exactly as directed.