I told somebody this summer that I’ve kind of resigned myself to a life where I’m not happy all that much.

It’s not because I’m chronically pessimistic– which I am, but I’m working on it. It’s not like I’m intentionally shutting out the light from my life that would make me a happy person. I have a lot of really wonderful friends and family and they make me happy and I do some things that I really like that make me happy, too. It’s just, like. I’m being realistic. And I’m responding to a feeling that sneaks into my life every so often post-Bipolar II diagnosis.

Which is: every time I feel happy I feel like it’s a lie.

Every time I feel happy– when I have a good week, when I write something I like, when I’ve been singing, when I have a fun conversation with a friend, when I go outside and Do Something– I’m hit over the head with a dropped stomach and a tense breathing apparatus (a bunch of my other body parts get in on it, usually, but those are the Big Three).

That’s because, with my diagnosis, I’ve been told to expect three things: Big Sad, Big Happy, and Really Big Coming-Down-From-Big-Happy. I can’t trust my happiness because I’m never sure if it’s real or if it’s just a manic upswing. Is this rush of serotonin natural, or from my medication, or is it something else entirely? Is it a super-serotonin, from the depths of my mental illness, which shows up for a good time but not a long time? There’s no way to tell.

I rain on my own parade a lot of the time because it’s easier to BE Big Sad than it is to ANTICIPATE Big Sad.

Having a mood disorder that’s complemented by an anxiety disorder is great. You feel a lot, but worry constantly that you’re not feeling the right thing. You do things and are excited that you did something and then you question your own intentions and motivations until you can’t be excited about it anymore.

Brain: Get out of bed and greet the day! Now is no time for low-function!
Also Brain: Sit in bed and think all day about what could have possessed you to believe you were capable of getting out of bed and greeting the day!

I mentioned that I feel a lot. It’s great– like, unironically great. I am strikingly unambivalent. I’m like your mom, probably– not in the way that I always have the right answer to questions or make a really mean tuna casserole, but, like, in the way that I’ll post about you on Facebook and tag you so all your friends can see how proud I am of you. You probably will not like this about me. I also don’t really like this about me.

I have a love/hate relationship with love and hate. I don’t live life on a traditional spectrum– it’s like a seesaw, but, like, only one person is sitting on the seesaw. I think they forget they’re on a seesaw sometimes and then they, like, jump back awake and RUN to the other side of the seesaw just to change things up a little. One side at a time.

I don’t think I’m ever going to be living in a balanced-seesaw universe, pills or no pills.

Again, I unironically love my Big Feelings. They’re why I’m a good writer, and they’re why I’m a good friend. They’re also why I’m sometimes a bad friend and why I don’t like myself all that much a lot of the time. But, like. You have to find positives to your situation or you’ll explode (again, working on that optimism!!!!!!).

I think I’m writing this to let myself know that it’s okay not to be a chronically happy person as long as I’m not a chronically sad person. I may never live essentially happy, but, with help in the form of pills/therapy/friends/family/good theatre/good movies/good TV/good music, I also don’t have to live an essentially sad life.

I’m striving for ambivalence about the way I live, and I think, in the long run, that’s a happy thing.


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