I’m Starting a Journey to Happiness.

 

“Have you felt down or hopeless in the last two weeks?”

It was the umpteenth in a series of  listed questions the nurse at a new clinic had to ask me before I could be seen by the doctor.

I blinked. My eyes flashed to the door. “No.” I said, and smiled awkwardly at her. Anyone with experience in body language would know I was lying. Not even a week ago I had to convince myself not to take a handful of pills in the medicine cabinet. I’d been crying almost every day since, and it hadn’t even occurred to me that I felt hopeless, but the world left a bit of a sting. It felt hard enough some days just to breathe.

**Side note: are any of you nurses/have you had to ask or been asked those questions? What are your thoughts on that? It seems like a disservice to the asker and the askee in thta situation–I can’t seem to casually bring up the fact that I’ve been contemplating suicide, especially not in the middle of playing twenty questions. And what’s the procedure if/when someone says yes to those questions? Would they mark me as a hazard to myself and others and send me off to the nearest mental ward?**

Part of me wanted to say something then. Maybe if it wasn’t the clinic my mother worked at; maybe if that nurse hadn’t just talked to me about how much everyone in there loves my mom, I would have. Probably not, though. But part of me wanted to at least find closure; to find out what–if anything–is wrong with me if I feel like this far more often than just once or twice a month. After all, if there are ways to get past this, a therapist or doctor should know better than a young adult who likes to skim through the occasional article online.

Maybe I’m just not ready to talk about it out loud yet–this thing that I’m feeling that I’m not supposed to be feeling, this weakness that I have that I’m not supposed to have, this extreme lack of willpower that is so inconsistent with everything my family is and everything I’ve been raised to be. Instead of picking myself up by the bootstraps and rolling with the punches, I can’t even find the strength to keep standing. I just want to find a patch of dirt to lay in and let the mud swallow me whole.

But I’ve been asked to keep going. I can pour that bottle of pills into my hand; I just can’t take them. And for the sake of those people that cared enough to hold me and remind me they want me around, I decided to keep trying. Maybe one day, I’ll find the faith and strength again to live for myself.

So, I’m going to make a plan and try to stick to it. I’ll try to pull myself out of this rut by making a conscious decision to change. Without further ado, here’s my five-part goal that I’m just pulling out of my butt because I’m talented like that:

1: Make more ‘happy’ and ‘encouraging’ friends–I’ve learned it’s hard to have faith in a future that seems unreasonable if you’re surrounded by people that believe it’s unreasonable. I’m going to try to spend more time with people who are pursuing their dreams and passions fully, who don’t continuously psych themselves and others out or lay in their misery, but instead manage happiness and work toward a future they can look forward to.

2: Do things that make me happy, even if they don’t appeal to me in the moment–this one’s going to be hard to promise myself, but I’ll try my best to get up and write and draw and do all of those DIY projects I’m scared I’ll fail at. At least then, if I’m still in this hole a year from now, I can’t say that I didn’t do anything while I was there.

3: Keep the feel good playlists rolling–even if it’s only for a span of 4 minutes, a good pick-me-up song has the power to clear out some of the darkness in my mind. It’s great to listen to the songs that commiserate with you (“26” by Paramore is a good one and my recent go-to), but it’s also great to listen to the ones that support and uplift you (I like “Chasing the Sun” by Sara Bareilles or, in the tougher moments, “W.A.Y.S.” by Jhene Aiko; if you’re looking for something to soothe the soul and help quiet your mind, India.Arie is the way to go).

4: Get outdoors–the outdoors have always been rather therapeutic for me. Just a few years ago, the areas around my neighborhood were full of beautiful forests and tiny creeks. There was once a time where the water seemed rather fresh and you could find the occasional crayfish darting by. I’d go out there with my brothers or on my own and just listen to the world turn and feel so at peace. They used to call me “Pocahontas” because I loved nature so much. And by they, I mean me.

5: Learn to let go–this might be the hardest one, but the one most worth the effort. In all my effort to improve myself and my life, I’m going to take myself too seriously at some points and forget to enjoy myself and smile. I’ll stress myself out over the outcome and pore over everything I could have done better and everything I probably did wrong. I’ll stress myself out and come down with the sweats before I even start. But the only way I can truly fail is to A) not try, or B) die (temptation notwithstanding). Where there’s life, there’s a chance. Things like victory and failure are all relative. In the end, I decide who I am and what I can and can’t do with my life. If I want to start with a blank slate tomorrow, that’s what I’ll do. If I want to start letting go of the fear of making mistakes, I’ll do that, too.

 

 

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