Anyone who truly knows me, knows that I fight a daily battle with depression and anxiety. As of this moment, I am in an up-swing. Meaning, while I have areas I am working to improve, for the most part (90%) I am “happy” and functioning very well.
A little more than a year ago, I admitted myself to the “Psych Ward” of the local hospital. I was so, low. So much self-doubt. The winning thought racing in my head was, “Why am I even here?”. Fast forward a week. Now stable, with a few tools in my arsenal for when those nasty doubts crept up, I was home. Home. The place where life slaps you in the face with a million pieces of chaos. However, I was able to recognize that I was slipping back into the black abyss.
This time instead of the hospital, my therapist suggested an Intensive Outpatient program. My co-patients ranged from Recovering Alcoholics and Drug users, to the many forms of Mental Health Diseases that could be found. Monday through Thursday, 9 am- 1 pm, I went. At first, I could barely look anyone in the eye. Over the duration, I was given (more) tools to use when I feel myself slipping. I was given “Homework”. Chapters to help me explain and understand WHY I was feeling, what I was feeling. The program also provided a small purpose for me. I had a reason to put my feet on the floor, other than the mundane daily routine I had let myself develop. (I don’t intend to infer that my family and it’s happenings didn’t give me purpose. Just that, my role in their lives had developed into… less of a necessity. They all could get up on their own for school. Make their own breakfasts, and so on. So, I would just sleep. The kids left for school around 7:30 am and I would sleep until 12:00.. or longer.) After the six weeks in the program, I had a solid hold on my mental health. I feel I have continued to bear the load. Perhaps with a smidge of dignity, and a whole lot of hard work.
Now as I reflect, I’m asking myself, “What exactly have I done to find my happiness?”. The answer, I’m doing the things I like to do. This answer is very different for each individual. The range within my family alone is massive. AND, I had to discover what those things are. That’s right, I had no idea what things “Carrie” liked to do. You see, as a “people pleaser”, I had always done things to make others happy. For a long period of time that included, cooking and cleaning – which made my ex-husband happy. I was “Mom”, so play dates and driving to the children’s various activities. I do believe that I was content in doing for others. As my children have gotten older, and needed less “physical” help, the Me that I was, started to fade away. I didn’t take the time to find the new things that would make me “happy”.
So the billion dollar question. “How did you find the things that make you happy?” First and foremost, I was lucky enough to find my husband. His support, has been my anchor, while I have fluttered about discovering myself. I experimented. Dabbled. Researched. I enjoy cooking and baking, so began to experiment with different recipes. I love to admire art, so, I started doodling and painting. I like to listen to music, so I started listening to different genres at different times. Upbeat music while I’m cooking. Soft classical when reading, ect. I enjoy writing. Hence the creation of, Honestly Carrie. The newest adventure is knitting and crocheting. The biggest piece to all this is, I am learning to not be devastated by the opinions of what others think about my creative explorations. Needing the approval of others, is soon to be a thing of the past. Don’t misinterpret that to mean I don’t enjoy compliments. Even constructive criticism is welcomed. How else will I know if a recipe is lacking a certain flavor.. or more likely, too much of an ingredient.
In closing, I wish you courage to discover your own individual happiness. As well as the strength to endure what ever struggles you must overcome to make happiness a reality.