When You Find Happiness After Being Depressed For A Long Time

A blonde bowman lifting up her hands while standing on a sandy hill on a bright day
Brooke Cagle / Unsplash

So this is what that feels like. Happiness.

For someone who’s had depression their entire life, “Are you happy?” is certainly one of the questions I did not have an answer to.

For years, friends and family dared not ask that question. They would settle for, “Are you okay?” Maybe because “okay” is the best answer they thought they could get? Maybe “okay” or “fine” was the best scenario, the best place I could ever be then? Maybe.

But lately, loved ones have been bold enough to ask that one question. Are you happy? And for a while there, I was not sure how to answer it.

I admit, I really didn’t know. I knew what I was feeling, but I was not sure if that was happiness. Because I don’t think I’ve ever really felt it before. I don’t think I really knew what truly being happy was like. Or maybe I did, I just didn’t know it.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t miserable. I’ve laughed many times in my life. But laughing and being happy are two different things. I was just always sad. Always anxious. Always had that heaviness in my heart. In my mind, I always knew I had a lot to be thankful for. I just didn’t feel it because sadness occupied my heart almost entirely. There was very little room for anything else. And sadness, sad to say, had become my normal.

But lately, my heart seemed to have deviated from its normal. I’ve noticed something different. Something new to me. Something I do not know how to react to. And with a little help from friends’ and family’s leading questions, I think I’ve figured it out.

Yes, I smile when I think of things or people. Yes, I am content. Yes, my negative thoughts come much less frequently. Yes, I worry less. Yes, my conversations are less problematic. Yes, I laugh more. Yes, I have not cried in a long, long time.

And yes, my prayers are more to thank God than to beg Him to save me from something. Yes, I can now walk away from things that trigger negative emotions. Yes, I see how blessed I am. Yes, I do not ask for much anymore because I have everything I need.

Yes, I now wish other people well. Yes, I stopped feeling sorry for myself. Yes, I’ve learned to forgive others and myself. Yes, I can now look in the mirror and appreciate my reflection and like what’s beneath the surface.

Check to all the items on their checklist. And man, the reaction I get! I think everyone is just relieved and happy and grateful. But no one was really surprised. I think everyone noticed the change. I guess everyone around me knew the answer to that question way before I knew it myself.

It is not the ecstasy that I had imagined, it was not the “high” that I pictured. Instead, it is something much better. It is the calm. The quiet. The serenity. It is the pause, the break, the comma to the never-ending sad story my brain was writing for a very long time.

It is actually feeling other emotions more. Gratitude. Appreciation. Peace. Forgiveness. Humility. Love. 

It’s been a long time coming, but yes, happiness has arrived. TC mark

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