“A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.” – Helen Keller, The Simplest Way to be Happy (1933).
It is a scary thing to be happy. That statement may confuse some, but when you’ve lived with depression for ten years, your thoughts and mind are a no man’s land of destructive, painful thoughts for that entire time, it becomes oddly comfortable. This concept of happiness is a foreign idea, one that seems unattainable. A good day is like being a mouse wandering towards cheese and peanut butter in a trap, eating as much as possible before the inevitable snap that kills you. Pain and sadness become regular occupants in your mind, so much so that it becomes who you are. Your mood is dour at all times and you draw from those negative feelings, thoughts and memories to create and fuel you. What happens then, when you finally reach that unattainable goal?
What happens when you’re happy? In my personal experience, I lost the desire to write because writing was my escape to a fantasy land I could never find. But now, having found the place I thought I never could, I was at a loss, wondering where or how I’d draw up the inspiration and energy to do what I love doing. For the longest time, I hadn’t been able to.
“Love and happiness are components of a warm and welcoming fire while self-loathing and hatred are all-consuming and destructive. Be wary of the fine line.”
I couldn’t understand for a while why being happy made it hard to write because, I could barely fathom being happy to begin with. I found so much inspiration in everyday life and my mind was free to wander and ponder on the intricacies of whatever plot I conceived but when it came time to put my pen to the pad, nothing came. It baffled and frustrated me for so long that I had to do self-reflection and understand what was happening to me.
I’ve drawn from my deepest and darkest emotions and life experiences to create every piece I’ve done and thus far, I’ve written my best work based on the worst parts of my life. The issue comes in the fact that I dwelt there so long that the unhappiness would become who I was again and its hold on me would be so strong that I couldn’t escape it. My creative life was marred by my own destructive habit of letting myself soak in my dark place to bring forth better art at the risk of losing my mind.
It has taken a lot to explain to people, particularly those that should know better, why I was so hurt, lost and depressed before as well as why I’m happy now. It has been an infuriating and hurtful experience but one that has taught me things as well. In being happy and secure, I’ve learned that those who aren’t will constantly project how they feel onto you and judge you as if you have the same lack of self-love they do.
“The delusional and the miserable have the worst opinions of others and offer the most glowing endorsements of themselves.”
Because of that, it’ll be hard for some people that I’ve spent time wallowing in my old sadness with to appreciate and celebrate the happiness that I have now. It’s a daunting thing to have this joy I have now. I’ve never gone through this before myself but I expect those that claim to know me to observe the facts. For the first time in years, I do not dread waking up in the morning or find myself wanting to stay in my room because the outside world offers too many things to be sad about. I feel confident in the man God has made me to be, despite the hiccups and not yet reaching the levels that I have for me. That doesn’t mean that I don’t get hurt or disappointed. It just means that I make every breath I take count now.