I’m a happy person. Even though I have mental health challenges I still categorize myself as happy. I feel happiness every day. The amount of happiness can vary. But it is there. I’m a person who likes to laugh and make people laugh. I could walk on the heels of laughter all day.
And then trip, catching my toe on the rock of adversity and BOOM. Done. Happiness becomes absent. For those that love me, I think that can be confusing at times. I also think it’s obvious when I’m not ok. I’m quiet. Like, introvert quiet. Which is the opposite of my extrovert happy. And the shift can be dramatic and instantaneous. And I can do better to verbalize. But that’s also where the challenge is; I don’t know what to verbalize. Some type of let-down or failure occurs and things just shift. My tectonic plates plunge into one another causing friction that resembles the weight of the entire world and I retreat. To a quiet space inside myself. Predictability of the trigger is absent from my analysis. There is rarely a consistency. And that frustrates me. I hate it when I can’t figure something out. Especially when that ‘something’ is me.
Since those who have known me began reading my writings I’ve had more than a few people say something like “really, but you’re so happy”. And I never know what to say other than “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Which, by the way, is a super lame saying and I really need to start brainstorming a replacement. But anyway, some of my happiness can be artificial at times. I will own up to that. But it’s not insincere. Its survival. Someone saying that to me makes me a little sad and annoyed at times. I think it’s a nod to stereotypes surrounding mental health. Millions (literally) of people understand their mental health challenges and live normal lives. They experience happiness and joy. In fact, I think, they may even value happiness a little more than those who have a healthy mind. We don’t take the joy for granted. Not at all. We also know when things aren’t great. When we need to fall back. When we need to exercise self-care. I know what I have to do to keep my head above the water. I’m not the only one. We put our pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else. We raise families and contribute to society. And if there wasn’t a stigma attached to seeking help, there would be more of us out functioning in the world.
Don’t make assumptions about someone’s happiness. Advocate for mental health. Educate yourself. Be a supporter, be a champion. There is someone you know, that you love, that you admire who could really use the compassion.