This was such a funny coincidence. Today I was watching Oprah's show on Happiness. At the same time I was baking pre-shaped, refrigerator dough cookies. Look at the cookie that came out of the package:
Glad I took this picture, because I didn't recognize it once it had baked. It's probably already making my tummy happy.
Oprah and her people discussed the various factors that can help increase happiness. I "fit" several of their criteria. I am very happily married. I have a nice, warm home and enough food (too much, in fact.. just look at my waistline - on 2nd thought, don't look), and we can pay our bills, with only a normal amount of pain and angst. We have two grown children who are fabulous adults, and both have wonderful partners whom we love. I had a great career, and retired with a pension (a real plus in these days of do-it-yourself retirement plans). Hubby and I take occasional vacations. I'm happily, actively involved at church. I do substitute work that I love, and I do volunteer work that I love.
So, by all those accounts, I'm quite happy.
However, I have been dealing with depression for pretty much all my life. I'm sure some people would be surprised to hear this. I do enjoy life! But sometimes I've had to fake.
I always used to wonder why I felt a little "under-happy." I used to picture a line that indicated most people's happiness level. Mine was slightly under that line. I spent a lot of time and energy faking my happiness. I never could understand what was wrong. It wasn't something I could just snap out of. Sometimes I'd have such a rush of anger or frustration. Even I wondered where this completely out-of-proportion response came from. What a helpless feeling!
About ten years ago I started getting worse. I knew I was in trouble when I had no energy for the things I love. I could barely force a smile onto my face. I couldn't get out of the chair. And one day I began to fantasize about "being lucky and getting cancer and dying." All of that scared me, and I went to see a doctor. I have been on anti-depressants ever since. I'm now convinced that I have some kind of genetic depression, because I know I experienced a lot of it when I was younger and didn't understand what I was feeling.
The meds have helped a great deal. I am more cheerful, have energy, and feel 99% normal. It's not a cure. I feel like the meds help me to barely hold on. They help a lot, but they don't cure. Without them, I know I would sink back into the black chasm of depression. I'm happy to have something to help me feel happy!
I guess this means I have a mental illness. I'm able to control it and keep my life happy. This is another way I'm lucky. The meds work for me. They don't always work for everyone. But definitely, if you or someone you know seems depressed, I encourage you to seek help. It is worth finding some sympathetic helpers who will understand what you are going through and will offer some help.
If all goes well, you, too, can get back to feeling normal and enjoy eating a happy cookie!