Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What Makes me Happy

Before I get into what makes me happy I thought I'd add a little more background to the story. I may need to do this from time to time so that posts make sense.

Things came to a head for me last July, 2014. Mike, my partner, had left me the previous Dec., 2013 and I had retired at the end of June 2014. As per my original plan I packed up my pickup truck and drove to my home in PEI.  I thought I could still live in PEI on my own since my partner backed out. But after being there for a time I had a bit of a breakdown and found that indeed I could not manage being there on my own.

Adding to my difficulties was the fact that I was gradually coming off of two medications - one for back pain (which was also a very low dose anti-depressant) and another for anxiety related symptoms of menopause. No doubt the terrible withdrawal I went through contributed to my mental anguish. Nevertheless I sold my home back to its previous owner (at a loss) and came back home to Ontario where I had more of a support system. It helped to be home with family nearby but my depression continued.

So...what makes me happy now, or, what made me happy in the past? Is there a way to increase my level of happiness? I would give anything to experience happiness and joy and excitement once again. I take no medication these days - I have been medication-free since last summer and have no desire to be on anti-depressants again.  I am including a shocking "Big Think" video that my nephew posted on Facebook today that reveals that anti-depressants suppress emotions, making it hard to cry and difficult to empathize.  I have experienced these things and quite frankly it terrifies me.

This blog will hopefully cover my journey from depression back to happiness, but the way I feel now it seems next to impossible to believe I can elevate my mood/feelings/emotions to the point where I can be joyful. However, that being said, I do believe that time heals all things. We shall see. I am ready to give it the All Canadian try!!

I feel happy (sort of) when...

  • my two cats are curled up beside me
  • my 24 year old daughter and I are getting along...watching "Friends" on Netflix and laughing our asses off as one example
  • I'm out hiking in the woods, alone or with friends
  • I meet a friend for coffee
  • I go to group meditation
  • I am not in physical pain (suffer chronic back pain)
  • I am doing yoga
  • my daughter and I work together on something (Easter dinner)
  • I spend time with girlfriends I have known for years
  • I go to my trailer
  • I ride my bike
  • I travel abroad or take a "road trip"
  • I read a good book
  • when my daughter is happy
  • I am involved in activities I enjoy
  • I hear a good live band, discover a new group whose music I like
  • when I complete a DIY project successfully
  • I create a delicious meal/dessert
  • I stay on budget
  • I write on my blog/respond to comments/read my friends' blogs
As you can see I'm not stuck for things to do, I have many interests and enjoy many things. BUT, right now there are barriers to my enjoyment. For example I have pulled muscles that prevent me from doing physical things that I enjoy, like hiking. Depression prevents me from engaging in the activities I enjoy such as genealogy, carving and other artistic pursuits. My daughter is struggling - she broke up with a boyfriend of several years and can't find full-time work that she enjoys. Money, while I have enough, is not so plentiful that I can travel abroad more than once a year. 

My challenge, right now, is to overcome these barriers (at least the ones that apply to me) so that I can get back to enjoying all of my activities and interests. I would also like to add "volunteer" work to the list as well as "activism." I feel these would enhance my life greatly so that I could feel, once again, that life has purpose and meaning. 

The combination of retiring, losing my life partner, losing my "future" (living with Mike in PEI), selling my PEI home, coming off of all medications and having a struggling daughter has steered me into the "ditch of life"!! A key to all of this is humour - I would like to rediscover my wicked sense of humour once again which would also help me to cope with all that has happened. I'm not one to lay down and give up, even when depressed. 

Here are the steps I've taken yesterday and today and will take tomorrow:
  • went to meditation with a friend and sat on my "donut" cushion
  • had coffee with another friend and sat on my "donut cushion"
  • inquired yesterday via facebook of a hiking friend about her participation in "Dragon Boat Racing" and will attend the upcoming recruitment meeting on April 20th
  • will be going to acupuncture tomorrow in hopes of some pain relief (it has helped me before)
  • made an Easter dinner with Kazi yesterday
  • much cuddling of kittens :)  and "liked" a facebook page with photos/videos of kittens being cute and funny
  • made plans to have breakfast with a former co-worker this Friday
  • might make pancakes tomorrow morning with a friend after acupuncture if I'm feeling up to it
  • will pray for my daughter who has a job interview this Friday 
A good list - I am "happy" with my efforts so far.

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