According to The American Dictionary of the American Language:
Happiness: the agreeable sensations which spring from the enjoyment of good; to a person distressed with pain, relief from that pain affords happiness. Perfect happiness or pleasure unalloyed with pain, is not attainable in this life.
Peace: a state of quiet tranquility; freedom from disturbance or agitation; harmony
“Are you happy?” I am sorry but I hate that question. My advice?: don’t ask someone who battles depression if they are happy, whether they are feeling particularly blue that day or not.
Happiness is fleeting. A puppy can make you happy, a kitten can. Then you have to train them, feed them. Which is great but if you still enjoy them at this point then I consider they offer you a modicum of peace and tranquility. Opening a new jar of peanut butter and being the first to use it makes me happy (I just did that!). But, now the jar is marred. Happiness is fleeting.
All of you have told me you appreciate my candor. Well, I am about to get as real as it gets.
I have mentioned almost in passing that I battle Bipolar Disorder as well. It is a frustrating disease. It is labeled as one of the major Mood Disorders. Bipolar Disorder covers a broad spectrum of symptoms. Bipolar I usually describes a patient as having major manic episodes. They have been known to stay up for days at a time. They can talk non stop and not make any sense. Then they crash. I could go on. When I see actor and actresses behaving like they do, I feel sorry for them because I think they do suffer from this. Highly creative people often do. It is also associated with alcohol and drug addiction.
I have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II with depressive episodes. What does that mean? I do have manic episodes but they last no longer than a day or two. I have not been known to stay up for days at a time but I am a threat to mop the floors at 3 o’clock in the morning. I am impulsive. I hate that the most. I shop impulsively. Buying something gives me a high. Now, I do not go out and purchase 5 $500.00 shirts. I have a hard time paying $80.00 for one shirt. No, I consignment shop. I can get 5 nice blouses for $100.00. I make decisions and think about the consequences later. It is due to my mind racing a mile a minute and I can’t sort out my thoughts and emotions. I am trying to meditate more. It is hard when your brain won’t shut down.
I take drugs called mood stabilizers. I hate them but they are a necessity. The side effects are horrendous: weight loss, weight gain, tremors, etc. They actually dull all my senses. It is hard for a creative person, because the chemicals block that creative part of your brain. It is the same part that controls these strongs moods and emotions I have a hard time controlling. My children call them my anger pills. When my mind is in what is called a mixed state, my temper can get set off by the most trivial things. Now, you can say that happens to all hormonal women. Take that and multiply it by 10. Here goes: I have been hospitalized for it a few times as well, just to get my meds stabilized. I am not in a padded cell,but I have seen one. There is a lot of group therapy and recreational therapy. Do not challenge me to a game of Spades. I rock. It takes a toll on my family.
Now, with Bipolar II with depressive tendencies, I crash hard after my short highs. My depressive state lasts a long time. This is why they had such a hard time diagnosing me because I hid those manic episodes so well since they looked fairly normal. My mixed states are frustrating because my mind can go a thousand miles a minute but I have absolutely no energy. I will stare at 8 loads of laundry and in my head I am saying “hurry up and start those loads and fold John’s clothes and clean up the kitchen!”. But I feel as if I have 1,000 lb weights on my feet. The medicines do help but not completely. I have to learn to control my temper and make myself do one chore at a time. I am still not very good at it.
Now, why am I equating this with happiness and peacefulness? With a racing mind like mine and impulsive tendencies, I find myself seeking “happiness”. But I crash hard. I can’t be in big social settings anymore. With my racing thoughts and trying to make cocktail talk, it is mentally and emotionally exhausting. I go home and crash for days. Give me a dinner party with about three couples and I am good. I am at my best one on one. I went to a Dorian parent meeting the other night and that was too much for me. I don’t know all those women that well yet and there was so much going on at once.
I am sure once we are at the games, I will find one or two who have my sense of humor and outlook on life. I have seen too much in the last ten years to sugarcoat anything. I think I scare one of my new sports mom friends sometimes because of the stuff I do not tolerate from people. I was at a party once and this girl was so loud and obnoxious. My new friend was laughing at me because I was about to jump out of my seat and ring her neck!! See? Impulsive and temperamental, but I controlled it. Being able to share my frustration with my friend helped. Sarcasm, though not attractive, comes in handy in a whisper. That and my warped sense of humor help.
This is why I love going to my children’s organized sports. I can cheer my child on and visit one on one with one parent at a time. This is why I call these people family. They know the real me, not the cocktail party me. My lower back is so bad these days, the thought of putting heels on makes me cringe. I wish Dansko could come up with a good looking high heel show:).
So, I am striving for peacefulness. I ask myself if I am at peace with my decision, or am I at peace at this very moment? It is a minute to minute thing for me some days. For instance, after my morning devotional this morning, I was at peace and felt solid about a good day. Then I went to exercise at the wrong time and I was no longer at peace. I kept telling myself it was no big deal, to shake it off. Then a new Dorian mom friend called and we laughed about life and our children forever. I felt better. I have been on an even keel ever sense. That is huge for me.
I pray a lot too. I also look at my more calming scriptures, not the ones with a lot of rules. That just brings out the guilt and then that spirals into that mean man getting into my head. I am not saying that I don’t abide in what the Bible says but sometimes you just needs those soft words of solace. If you have any off hand, send them my way:)
O.K. Now you know a lot more about me. I have been struggling whether to share this or not. But I wish I had figured this out when I was in my 20’s. I could have saved me and my friends a lot of grief. I hope this helps.
“Are you happy?” Forgive me but I hate that question. Do not ask someone who battles depression if they are happy even if they are not that depressed that day. God love them but my sister and my husband ask me that all the time. I still love you both dearly:)