Depression Doesn’t Mean I’m Not Happy

I want you to know that depression doesn’t keep me from being happy. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but when we remember that depression is simply a mental illness, or in other words, sickness that occurs in the mind, it makes sense.

I have an undiagnosed medical condition that has prevented me from being able to eat normally. Although it can be serious at times and it means my eating habits widely differ from those of most people, I am overall fairly healthy. The same is true with my mental illness. Although I may have long periods of darkness when I see little light or hope in life, I am overall happy.

In fact, I am one of the happiest people I know. Even though I think about suicide sometimes, even though I still struggle with desires for self injury, even though I sometimes cry for hours at a time for no real reason, I am incredibly, undeniably happy.

Here’s the thing, life is incredibly difficult. There are hard things, painful things, things that make you want to cry or scream or even stop living. But there are also beautiful things, amazing things, things that make you want to jump up and down and shout for joy and sing your heart out.

I feel those things, all of those things, the good and the bad. Because I have autism, I feel the world around me more than most. Because of depression, I feel emotions within me more than most. Because of my life experiences, I am more acquainted than most with pain and beauty, suffering and peace, destruction and ugliness.

So I struggle with the noise inside of me. I struggle to reconcile the explosions of joy that I feel with the craters of hopelessness that I experience. I struggle to make sense of this beautiful, crazy, heartbreaking world we live in.

But I want you to know that though the depression returns, though my suicidal thoughts may not disappear, though I wade through depths of darkness and hopelessness, I am happy. My depression does not leave me desolate. I still have joy. I still jump up and down flapping my arms because my body cannot contain the excitement of my happiness.

Yes, I may be depressed, but depression does not always equal sorrow. I am still happy.

Allowing Myself to be Autistic

I don’t flap.

At least that’s what I’ve told myself for 20 or so years. (For those of you who don’t know what flapping is, it’s basically waving your hands quickly in up and down motions- often out of excitement and sometimes accompanied with jumping up and down.)

Until recently I believed that flapping was not normal. It simply was not something a person did if they were capable of living a normal life. Now, before you get upset or call me insensitive, try seeing it from my perspective.

The majority of my life has been dedicated to figuring out what is seen as normal so that I can blend in and maybe eventually be accepted. Anything that the majority of individuals don’t do in public is abnormal. And I try to avoid anything in that category.

So I have never flapped in public. (Public being a loose term that to me means any human being in the area or that could potentially see me.) Meaning essentially that I used to never flap because I shared a room or an apartment and there was always the possibility of someone seeing.

Well, after about 20 years, I can happily say I flap. In fact, I flap so much I almost worry that one day I’ll do it in public. But maybe by the time that happens I’ll be okay with being autistic and I won’t mind allowing myself to show that side of me to others.

Flapping

Have you ever felt so excited that it feels like a burst of energy going through your body?

This is what flapping feels like.

I feel the energy go up through my chest and then up into my head and down to my arms.

At this point, I have two choices:

  1. Let the energy stay there and dissipate.
  2. Let the energy come out by flapping, jumping up and down, and smiling like crazy.

Lately I have been choosing the second option more and more. Before this time in my life I didn’t really think I could ever flap. It happened once or twice when I was in college and was in my room alone, but before that I was never alone enough to flap. There was always someone who could potentially see and I couldn’t take that risk.

I have never flapped in front of anyone.
I have never flapped in front of friends or even my family.
No one knows I flap.

But… when I’m alone in an empty house, I can now allow myself to flap. And it feels so good. It just feels good to be completely free and completely me for a few seconds. And I’m glad that I can flap now.

Related Poem

This is my 100th post on this blog. I have been writing in this blog consistently for a little over a year now. I just wanted to thank you for joining me on this journey and being willing to listen and hopefully see things from a new perspective.

Happiness released

If you saw me when I’m by myself, you would be surprised at how different I am than when I am with you.

I know this is true for lots of people, but for me it mostly applies to my autism. It is only when I am alone that I realize how naturally autistic tendencies come to me. I jump; I flap; I don’t hold myself back. I never flap when I’m around other people. My family has never even seen me do it. It feels wrong and strange to do it in front of others, but by myself it happens completely naturally. I often wonder to myself, “what is this uninhibited feeling of joy that is coming out of me?” “Why don’t I feel this when I’m around other people?”

I almost wish I could show you who I am when I’m by myself.

I wish people could see that happiness. I wish I could share that happiness with others. The problem is that other people wouldn’t understand it. Has anyone that is not autistic felt so incredibly happy for no real reason that they have to run and jump and cheer?

I wish you knew that feeling. I wish your happiness was released and I wish I could release mine around you. But for now, I’ll just release my happiness when I am alone.