I don’t know if you have ever noticed but those of us who write about mental illness tend to only talk about the depression, the times of being so crippled as to not be able to go to work, or the moments when the world literally cries for our own destruction. We talk about the cuts on our wrists and the cuts on our thighs. We talk about the part that scares the world, that causes intrepid reporters to find out after every possible tale of woe if those involved were ever seen by a doctor.
A couple of posts ago I wrote about darkness. I wrote to show how comforting, how easy reverting back into darkness truly is. There is a safety in the norm and there is a calmness in the routine of being in darkness. It is our place, our single place that we feel most real. It is the place that our doctors can’t really understand nor the ones who wish to help. It is a place of resting and fighting, of bleakness and hope, and it is a place that those with mental illness are very familiar.
I occasionally peruse other posts and through the poems, the short paragraphs, and even the pictures you get a sense of the familiar darkness that you also know. We write about what we know, and what we know is darkness. It is desperation. It is hopelessness. We know it because it is there each and every day.
What we don’t often see in the mental health world is the word happiness. Every word that seems to be an opposite of happiness is used, and some that are descriptive enough to get the point across; but show me three posts of joy. Three posts where the joy of life, that illusive thing that is actually supposed to be something, is described.
Happiness does not seem to be a topic those of us writing about mental illness know much about. We know the absence, we know the opposite, we even can see it around us, but that happiness isn’t a part of our day.
I bring all of this up not as a criticism, because then I would be slapping my own self, but because my doctor asked it of me today. First she asked what would I pay to be happy. Then she asked what am I willing to give up to feel happiness? Then it was back to the what happens if you try and be happy? And then she ended it with, “Grow up.”
Breaking down exactly what that hour of therapy was about is too difficult. It is made of too many emotions, most of them my own, that can’t be reconciled by anyone else. Most of the thoughts that I shared with my doctor were, if taken out of context, hurtful. Most, for those who profess to love me, would not get it.
I am a creature of habit. I like habit. I live in habit. But I also live in a loud, revolving, and often dizzily world that I can neither understand nor have any intention of living within.
I don’t like to talk. Not to you, not to my husband, not to my children. If someone could take my voice box and smash it under their boot, that would be excellent. I don’t talk about my life because I know that most people aren’t interested in my life, they are interested in their own. I don’t talk about my life because most of the time no one takes the time to actually ask more than a three word question. I don’t talk about my feelings, my stress, or my thoughts because so often, if people actually knew they would be hurt.
There is an old adage about not speaking if you don’t have anything nice to say (think Bambi). I don’t have a lot of good things to say; and those things that actually are speakable are so boring to me I can’t imagine what they would be like to hear. I don’t share my feelings because I know in my heart, that no one really cares.
So I keep things inside. I keep things buried deep within my heart and soul and then lay down in that darkness and simply rest. I keep my thoughts and emotions away from my husband because not only can he not accept them but he would try to hurt me in retaliation. These are my truths. I live with them.
I also have this one little, bitty other problem. I hate to hurt people’s feelings. I see no point in it. I don’t have any desire or need to hurt, disappoint, or anger anyone. I would rather keep my words to myself than to tell a hurtful truth. Call it submissive, call it passive, call it a weakness; but I simply can’t hurt others for my gain. Not won’t but can’t.
So where does leave me? Pretty much in a self-induced misery that I can’t talk about. I am the first one to admit that I am not happy in my life. What I don’t know if I can do is fix it by hurting or not hurting those around me. I don’t know if I can come to terms with the idea that my feelings, my happiness is important. I don’t know if I will ever be able to grow up enough to believe that I have rights too.
In summary, I don’t like to share my feelings, and I won’t share any feelings that might hurt another. I go so far as to eat food that I hate so that no one is inconvenienced. I go so far that I don’t listen to music in the car that I wish to hear, and I don’t take the steps to make sure that I have a chance of finding happiness.
I don’t understand is the actual feeling of happiness. Does it flow through your veins, from your legs to you brain, warm and airy? Is happiness some sort of goo like substance that sits and jiggles? Is happiness simply smiling or is it more complex? What is it like to finally close your eyes and know that through this happiness there is quiet?
What is pure happiness? Not the happiness of a moment, or even the happiness in a child’s smile; but the happiness that comes from deep inside of you. The happiness that is not dependent on others, but rather a product of our own lives. The happiness that has nothing to do with money, fame, or dreams. The happiness that has nothing to do with the lack of darkness or the lack of anger, but the happiness that comes from the soul deep knowledge that you did the best that you could and while you might not have cured cancer you did enough to deserve that elusive happiness. The happiness that allows you to lay down your head and finally rest.
I don’t know if happiness is one of those emotions that those of us with mental illness are not allowed to have. I don’t know if happiness is an illusion perpetuated by the same media that makes me feel overweight. What I do know is that I wouldn’t pay very much for my own happiness. What I do know is that some may believe that self-sacrificing the truth means I am coward. I do know that happiness will be something that I may have small glimpses of, but I will never see in my own eyes. I don’t have the guts to be happy. Instead I live in that dark world that is much, much, more comfortable.