Happiness

What is happiness, what does it feel like and what causes it?

These are the questions I’ve been asking myself recently. It sounds a bit like I’m asking about a disease, but all through my life, happiness has felt like something that everyone else has had, but I’m yet to catch it. Is it contagious? Is it a frame of mind? Can we do anything to encourage it? Or is it something we’re born with?

I’ll go back a few years.

When I was about 12, a series of events (which I won’t bore you with) started a chain reaction, which spiralled into depression and counselling by 16. I didn’t know this though. I thought I just hated everyone, they hated me, and I didn’t understand the world. I exhibited behaviours that are textbook for depression; but it was the ’90’s, so I was told to cheer up instead.

No, wait. It starts earlier than this, but I have to go forward to go back.

I was in London, in a bar, when I was 19. I’d met my brother and his girlfriend for a drink. My brother says, ‘Hey, have you noticed anything about mum?’ I said, not really. ‘She’s on anti-depressants, and she doesn’t shout all the time anymore.’

I thought about this, about all the time growing up when I imagined I was adopted, and nobody wanted to come to mine for tea because my mum was always in a ‘bad mood’. All the sleeping. All the times she told me I couldn’t, I never would and that I shouldn’t try. All the distance. All the anger.

Suddenly, lots of things made sense.

Back to being 16. Counselling was not for me. I was a closed, tightly bound book with a lock on the cover and I’d lost the key.

“I’m fine.” I’d say, whilst constant tears ran from my eyes. I left after a few sessions.

One day the phone rang. My counsellor had called me on the telephone. At home! The horror. She was really worried about me, I’d stopped coming to sessions (I’d found the key, but was too afraid to use it) and she was checking to see if I was okay.

“I’m fine.” I whispered and quietly hung up the phone so my mum didn’t hear.

Fast forward to 31. Divorce from hell. If you know, you know. More counselling and CBT. I didn’t learn my lesson though and went immediately into another relationship, 5 years with someone who treated me like I was an inconvenience.

I just wasn’t meant to be happy.

All through my life, I struggled to make friends. I was bullied. I made what I considered to be ‘lifelong friends’ and it turned out that they didn’t like me after all; I wasn’t a nice person, they were bored of my complaining, what did I have to be miserable about anyway? I realised they were right. I resigned myself to being on the outskirts, I didn’t want to bother people. They probably didn’t like me anyway.

BUT THAT WAS MY BRAIN BEING A DICK.

I realise that now.

So to bring this round to the title of this blog, HAPPINESS – I recently had a revelation.

It was my birthday a few weeks ago. A big one. I didn’t want to do anything really, anyway; but everyone kept saying (pre-Covid) – I absolutely MUST do something, it would be a WASTE to do NOTHING, I had to CELEBRATE my BIRTHDAY!!!!

Why? So I could be disappointed? So I could prove myself right, that nobody really gave a shit anyway, right?

WRONG.

The morning of my Lockdown Birthday, a friend popped by with a box. It felt quite heavy. Over packaging? One very heavy thing? Something I’d loaned to her that she was giving back?

I opened the box. The box was filled with things. Notes, a letter, cards, presents, special things. My friends had put together a box for my birthday, in secret and I discovered that it was filled with HAPPINESS! I cried. I couldn’t help myself. I sat, reading all the reasons that I was valued, all the memories my friends had of me, all the things they had enjoyed with me. I hadn’t realised I was so loved. It’s actually making me cry just writing this. I met them, virtually, later on that day and we spent the day drinking, laughing, dancing and generally being fools (like we do).

That day of happiness made my heart grow a few sizes. It kept swelling, day after day, as more people got in touch and told me that they, too agreed with the contents of those notes. I, in turn, wrote my own notes, to show how appreciated I felt. And the love grew and grew and my happiness didn’t go away. I felt the physical heart-skipping joyous feeling that I hadn’t felt in oh-so-long and I smiled. All week long. And into the next.

And I realised that happiness is contagious. It is a frame of mind and it we can encourage it.

I don’t think I was born with it. Studies have shown that depression is hereditary, and I think it’s been going on a long time in my family. Happiness is not a given.

But; when given it, I can do something to spread it.

Spread a little love and happiness today.

T.B.C…


15 thoughts on “Happiness

  1. Thanks for sharing such a personal story! My background is quite similar to this and I always try to remember to stay happy. You’re clearly surrounded by people who care which is great

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What an absolutely lovely post. I was also a teenager with depression in the 90’s and I sympathize with how poorly it was dealt with back then (“buck up!” “get over it,” “don’t be so needy”). I’m sorry you had to go through the same. But I’m so glad to hear about your lovely lock-down birthday and how your friends made you feel special. You’re right that happiness is a frame of mind. And if we encourage it, we perpetuate it. Great post! And happy belated birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, for stopping by and for commenting. Its hard reversing all those negative affects – but I guess without them, we wouldn’t be able to write such posts hehe! I am glad you could relate. Keep smiling and enjoy your day xx

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    1. Sorry it made you cry! I didn’t want that to happen. Thank you so much for your comments too. ITs nice to be able share feelings through our posts. We’ll visit again, for sure x

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy belated birthday and I love how lovely your friends are. I’m sure anyone would smile receiving that
    Lovely post and I’m so glad you have finally been able to find happiness
    Thank you for sharing
    LJ xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Having just been sent the link to this article by a new friend (you know who you are) as a way of sharing some happiness I feel grateful and hopeful and maybe, yes, maybe just a little bit happier. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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