Something Good- Day 191-192

We are not supposed to give out treats at my work for sanitary purposes at the moment, but a little boy came into the branch with his mom and really wanted a lollipop. I figured since it was to protect people from germs, it would be okay if I handed it to the mom without touching it. I used a clean paper towel to pick up the candy by the wrapper and handed it to the mom. Maybe I broke policy for a moment, but I made a child happy. I think sometimes we get so wrapped up in the rules that we forget why they are there. It was nice for things to be somewhat normal for a moment.

Yesterday we went shopping and got an oil change. The oil change was long overdue, and I bought a couple emergency items for my car. It was nice to feel more secure driving, knowing that I can handle an unexpected car issue when it happens. I also got a few other items that I am excited about but will need to sell some things to make up for them.

Something Good- Day 15

We have this customer that comes into the bank every day to get his balance and say hello to everyone. He usually gives us a piece of candy and compliments our work. He came in today after an angry customer had just left. I was still upset about how the last customer had treated me and our other teller, but this customer’s smile and personality helped me feel a lot better when I really needed it.

This is My Life

I was officially diagnosed earlier this year with chronic depression- early onset, which basically means I have had depression for as long as I can remember and it will likely keep coming back for the rest of my life. I hadn’t really pursued a diagnosis before this year because it seemed pretty obvious that I had depression and I didn’t need someone to tell me. But even with a diagnosis, it is sometimes hard to believe that this may never go away.

There are times when I am just so happy and at peace with the world that depression seems like a distant memory, hardly relevant to the joy I am experiencing. But the truth is, those exquisite moments of joy are possible because of the deep craters of despair that have come before them. This is my life. This is my reality. I am going to have moments of despair so strong that I forget anything good ever came before them. But I am also going to have moments of joy that are so incredible that I forget what pain feels like.

I feel like I am a pretty happy person. I love life. I see the good in it. I see the good in everything and everyone. I love people more than anything else in the world. But I wrote a post a couple years ago where I talked about drinking up happiness as much as I could when it came so that I could get through the next period of depression.

The last few months have been really amazing for me. I progressed so much mentally and emotionally that I felt like maybe depression was finally gone. All the self doubt and self hate and hurt from past experiences had all disappeared. I felt completely and totally whole for the first time in my life. But… I have chronic depression. So, it came back.

The point I am trying to make though is that sometimes having depression feels like trying to drink happiness through a cup with a hole in it. You do what you can to fill your cup and to keep it full, but it doesn’t always work. The thing is though, I have come to the point where I realize that it is okay. It is okay that I have chronic depression. It is okay that I have nothing to be sad about, and yet feel such deep despair that I cannot begin to describe the pain I am enduring. It is okay because I am alive. After everything, all the brokenness and lonely nights and heartbreaking thoughts, I am still here. I am still here to enjoy the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. I am still here to listen to the sound of rain outside my window and drink hot chocolate and watch fun movies. I am still here to experience all that life has and all that life is.

So, maybe in an hour, I won’t be able to get out of bed because depression grips me so tightly that I can hardly breathe. But in the moments that I am well, during the times when I can see the beauty around me, I plan to love it all as much as I can. I plan to find joy in the difficult situations and enjoy the good times. I plan to live because I am here for a reason. And whatever that reason is, I’m going to make it a good life. This is my life, and I’m going to love every minute of it.

 

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.

Julia’s Rules for a Happy Life:

These rules are individual to me. They have been developed and revised over a lifetime of experiences. Although they can be applied to anyone, I believe that we each discover our own path to happiness. Make your own rules to happiness, but feel free to use my rules as a starting point or to get ideas.

1. Don’t put off a good thought.

This is a combination of a few of my favorite quotes and philosophies. “Never suppress a generous thought.” “Never postpone a prompting.” And “write down the thoughts God gives you right away.”

2. Don’t watch, read, listen to, or do anything that you wouldn’t be comfortable thinking about in the temple.

Sometimes this one can be hard because a lot of good movies, etc have bad parts to them. But I try my best to stick to wholesome recreation.

3. Separate yourself from your anger.

When someone does something that upsets me, I try to stop and think about it before I react. I try to see things from their point of view before  letting my anger out.

4. Don’t wait until you have the time or energy or peace of mind to help someone.

Be kind when you are broken; be patient when you are in pain; reach out to others when you are lonely; listen to others when you are hopeless. You find yourself by losing yourself. We will never have the perfect circumstances to help everyone. So we must choose to help when it’s not convenient.

5. Always take the time to be grateful.

This one is pretty self-explanatory. I have a lot to be grateful for. I just have to consciously think of those things every day.

6. Surround yourself with positive influences. From music to movies to people, do not allow negativity to occupy your time.

This includes news and current events. While it is important to be informed, I can get dragged into depressing thoughts if I get too many details about negative current events. If I want to stay positive, I have to consciously decide to avoid any unnecessary negativity.

7. Remember you are the same person when you make a mistake as when you do good. You do not lose worth or value when you mess up.

I’m still working on this one. I’m still trying to remember and remind myself of my worth. But as hard as it is, I keep reminding myself. I am that same person. I am not worthless. There are people who love me, which means I am lovable, which means I must have something inside me worth loving, and if they can see it, I can believe it.

8. See the goodness in people. Even when they hurt you, try to see them as God sees them.

We are all looking for the light. Some of us just lose our way before we find it. Try to help them find that light rather than stepping into their darkness.

9. Don’t be afraid to be sad sometimes.

Pain, heartache, fear, sorrow, and disappointment are all part of life. It’s okay to acknowledge them and live in them every once in a while. The sadness will not last forever. It’s just part of the journey.

10. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Worry about what you’re doing.

I especially apply this when I’m driving. It’s easy to see other people passing me or cutting me off, but if I focus on me, I’m less likely to take it personally or get upset by it. Everyone is fighting their own battles. I cannot control their actions, but I can focus on what I am doing and how I am behaving.

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.