Why is Happiness so Hard?

Why is Happiness so Hard?

The last couple of months have been difficult. They have been hard for reasons I cannot fathom into words because I do not know the correct vocabulary to describe the empty pit in my stomach, the yearning in my chest for something more.

More. I always need more.

I have everything in this world but my brain, my chest, my heart, my throat, my limbs, my being is always grasping for more.

Maybe more isn’t want I need. It’s not what I’m searching for. No, what I’m ultimately wanting is to feel at ease. To feel okay. To feel worthy. To feel utter happiness.

There are dark clouds inside my mind that like to take a backseat most of the time but never fully leave my head. They precipitate ideas that I am not good enough, I do not deserve what I have: the people in my life, the progress I have made.

Let me briefly explain to you what I have in this life, and why I am so mad at myself.

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I have a mother who would give everything in her being to wipe the clouds from my brain, to give me even just a moment of sincere happiness.

I have a father who would cut down every single tree that is blocking the sun from reaching my dark thoughts.

I have a brother who will stand by me through every panic attack, mental breakdown, and through all of my second, third, and fourth thoughts about making decisions, and then tell me “You did so great, Rebecca”.

I have best friends who are genuinely interested in my life, how I’m doing, what my goals are, and where I’m feeling on this spectrum of intense anxiety and depression.

I have an amazing boyfriend who has dealt with every instance of my thoughts betraying myself, who has stood by me as I question his feelings for me because I am too insecure to believe that he could actually care for me.

I have four walls surrounding me and a roof over my head. I have cats who check up on me when they hear my silently crying at night. I have a job that is keeping my head financially above water. I am getting an advanced education. I am healthy. I am surrounded by beauty. I have every reason to feel intense happiness, to be content.

But those dark clouds keep rolling in.

Those clouds tell me that mom and dad are sick of my mental disparities. My brother will only tell me I am doing great for so long, and does he really mean it? They tell me that my friends do not really care about me and my wellbeing. They tell me that my boyfriend is getting sick of me, is obviously going to leave me, and that it’s best to cut ties before you get hurt. Hurt yourself before anyone else can, right?

My thoughts are irrational and I am aware of this fact. I know that what they are telling me is not real, that they are wrong. But then why do I feel the sadness that they bring? If I can understand that the rain that falls from those clouds is just my depression creeping in, why do I let the feelings of dread, worthlessness, and sadness wash over me? How frustrating it is to be clued into what parts of your mind are lying to you, and yet still believe the emotions that they emit.

And this is why I’m mad. Mad at myself. Because I am allowing these beliefs, these thoughts, these lies overtake me. And I don’t know how to stop. And others are feeling at fault for my mood changes, and I’m angry that I’m allowing my own problems to create tears in relationships that I am so thankful for. I can’t stop this cycle and it hurts.

I once went to a psychic and she told me something I’ll never forget. She told me,

“Rebecca, why won’t you let yourself be happy? Someone could ask you to paint a room, all four walls. You’d finish and they would be so happy with how it came out, they would praise you for your hard work, and you would reply, “Yeah, it’s okay, but I didn’t paint the ceiling.”

My friends, my family, my boyfriend, they all ask me why I am so sad, if they are any cause of this despair that I drag along each day. My beautiful support system feels at fault and that hurts me.

I don’t know how to fix myself. But I’m working on it. But for now, I want to say something to those in my life:

Dear You,

I am sorry. I am so sorry that whatever is happening inside of my head is affecting our connection. I need you to know that you are not doing anything to make me feel like this. You are what is keeping me afloat.

To my family, I am sorry that I am so absent. I am trying my best to not allow my self-deprecation show, because I am embarrassed that I have come so far and have taken steps backwards. Thank you for always being there for me when I need it, and thank you for giving me my space when I’m not feeling like myself.

To my friends, I am sorry for my distance. I am sorry that I have not talked more to you about this. I am trying my hardest to figure it out. Thank you for your unwavering support for me and for always picking up your phone when I call.

To my boyfriend, I am sorry that this side of me has shown itself so early in our relationship. It is not something I was expecting to happen. Thank you for your acceptance of me in dark moments and for telling me that things like this aren’t going to make you run away.

Why is happiness so hard for me? Because I’ve got my arms spread out, with ropes tied around them; anxiety yanking one way, depression yanking me the other, both as hard as they can. My fists are clenched and I’m trying to break free, but sometimes they are stronger than me. Because I am not fully “better”, and I’m not sure I ever will be. Because trusting people is hard for me. Because I do not fully like who I am as a person.

But even when these dark clouds become so large that they haze over my eyes, I always manage to see some glimpse of light, a shimmer of gold reaching through. And that is enough to snap me out, to remind me that I will be okay.

So thank you. Thank you for always reaching out for me. Thank you for poking your head through the darkness, for cutting away at the ropes around my wrist. Thank you for your constant reassurance.

Thank you.

 


 

This honest reflection comes from Rebecca, who has submitted both art and a Coping entry to us before. In her own words:

“We are all continuous and beautiful works in progress”

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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Societal Stigmas, Gender Norms, and their Effect on Mental Health

Something that has become increasingly bothersome to me, and I’m sure many of you, are the stigmas that society has put in place. Whether the stigmas affect those struggling with mental health, those who do not identify as a binary gender or sexuality, or those of a particular ethnic group, nationality, or religion, society has a way of creating these cookie-cutter-type images of what we are supposed to look and act like. Even though these images are near-to-impossible to recreate, we are often brutally shamed for not meeting these expectations.

We see this in visual ad campaigns where female models are stick thin, oversexualized, and often being dominated by men, and where male models are tall, dark, and rugged, often sporting a six-pack and bulging muscles.  We see this when people of the LGBTQIA community are bullied and murdered for not dressing like the gender they were assigned at birth, for publicly holding hands with someone of the same sex, and for simply not having the desire to hold anyone’s hand. We see this when people are attacked both verbally and physically for identifying with a particular religion, when people of a certain race or ethnicity are targeted and not given the same opportunities as others simply based on the color of their skin, and we see it when people who happen to look similar to whomever is labeled as “the enemy” at that point in time are attacked. And as we know, we see this when the topic of mental health is pushed further and further down on the agenda and people are told that their conditions are “all in their heads,” that their dire needs cannot be met because “other people have it worse,” and that it’s “not as bad” as a physical health condition.

Article dear hope

Graduation

Dear Hope started as an assignment, and is now so much more: a community of coping, recovery, addiction, healing, pain, love, loss, transparency, authenticity, doubt, and resilience. Today, I graduate alongside Paul, Amanda, Zach, and so many more souls that have made this community possible. This morning, I reflected on the last four years. The most important lesson I have learned is that there will be people you love that will either water your self-growth to flourish, or stomp on it out of personal pain and insecurity. We all deserve the former, and for when the latter is an unfortunate reality, we are all here for you. This is not a journey to ever be taken alone. Thank you all for growing with us.

i remember how those jeans looked when you put them on one pant leg at a time, and then when both flickered glimmers of future false hope and came together, met with a zipper. you always told me that the mirror was a lot less friendly than reality, but now I’m not so sure that the reflection was an inaccurate piece of diction regarding the color you drain from the world, first in wavelengths smaller than your pinky toe, and then all at once, like a vacuum.

the skies have smiled and cried and wiped up old tears and crusted snot since you left. it seems like i’ve brought every single goddamn cloud to this piece of paper, rain or shine. it’s trite, it’s boring, but it’s the only sick and sad way of coping with losing every drop of precipitation that changed the dry cracks in the ground into sunflowers. i never cared if they were yellow or pink or black and white. they were real.

it’s time to accept that cracked concrete is still concrete and can still grow flowers, even if they are black dahlias or dandelions that the people in my life that have told me that i’ll never be good enough deem to just be common weeds. you can’t drain my life anymore by draining the color from it. your presence is everywhere, but your presence is gone. absence can define, but such a shattered self-perception can’t be cleaned up with only a single pairs of bruised and bleeding hands. i’ve had enough of enclosing the zipper from the hazel-stained, green dream scene on my lips to mute myself.

we survive by love, and today, there is so much love for every memory i’ve ever made. your departure is not my self worth. my departure with those who cared enough to stitch up my infected knees is my self worth. sitting in your Grand Prix before Elm talking about potential and wiping the blood off of blades. listening to Parachutes and smoking enough to forget everyone who ever hurt us. sunshine and werewolves. elevators and Aderall. Canada and Virginia. stone walls, long-distance calls, salvia that looked like fudge, dehydration in Williamsburg, the screen porch at Meadow, and choosing not to print out my suicide notes.

today we evolve because you do not define my evolution anymore. today we evolve because i have a voice that deserves to be heard. we all have stories that deserve to be heard. today we evolve because love will always be the stitches that any of our knees will require, infection or not. we will blossom, in darkness and in light, in color and in absence, in faith and in fear.

no matter how deep the planet decides to cave in, our hands will always be there to help pull you out.

and i’ll never need you for me to be absolutely certain of that
ever again
.

Remember, you are never alone,

and you will always be loved.

DK

Creative Pieces dear hope

Coping: Entry Two – Depression and Faith, Finding Yourself Through Struggle

How do you cope?

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A few weeks ago I posted an article entitled “Coping” that detailed my own personal experience with mental illness and depression and received a lot of good feedback from it. Not only did people seem to understand what my depression was more, but people who also fought began to come forward and share with me their own stories. It affirmed my idea that these things need to be heard, and have gone ahead to decide to start a series of posts under the name “Coping”. In this series that’ll be published every few weeks, guest writers will share their struggles, coping mechanisms, their lowest point and more, allowing us into the eyes of those with mental illness. Reminding people who fight that they’re never alone, and those who don’t fight with a better understanding than they might of had before.

So here’s the first guest post from my great friend Haley, enjoy.

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There is no cure for depression. It will always be a part of who you are. But it’s how you accept its presence that determines the impact it has on your life.

It took me an extremely long time to accept my depression. As I was growing up, I was always the happy member of the family. I provided the laughs and made sure everybody was always having a good time. As I grew older, members of my family were gradually diagnosed with depression until I was the only one without this disease. And what did that mean to me? I was the only one that could always provide joy. I didn’t know what depression was: I took on the burden of making sure my sister and parents were in good spirits because I thought that they were unable to obtain it on their own. When I reached the point where I was unable to do this, I felt like a failure. I had let my family down.

Coping: This Is Who We Are dear hope