Happiness is Fleeting; Be Content

The Washington Post had an essay on happiness and why it’s not a goal: Happiness is an emotion, not a state of being. I’m not sure I agree with this, I’ve definitely been happy as a state of being many times, but I get the idea: emotions come and go, satisfaction tends to hang around if you work on achieving it. Fulfillment is the goal.

According to Gregory Brown, the essayist, “Fulfillment is a state of being. It is achieved when you accept who you are, make the most of what you have and are optimistic about the future.” Probably because you feel fairly sure you can keep what you have which, let’s face it, is not that guaranteed in these times. But there is a bright side to fulfillment, a side effect if you will. According to the essay, it often brings you moments of happiness.

How were you fulfilled this week?

128 thoughts on “Happiness is Fleeting; Be Content

  1. This week definitely had its bleak stretches. Exhaustion, sadness, frustration, anger.
    Also a feeling of togetherness.
    And a bright spot that I was happy to experience with the loved ones. It may not sound much as it’s “only” sports, but our team defied the odds and made it not only to the hockey wc semi finals, but to finals!
    For the first time in forever (70 years) bringing home a medal for sure 😉.
    Against Canada.
    Tammy, our favourite teams didn’t make it to the stanley cup finals, but our national teams to the finals of the world championship in Tampere!!

    1. Congratulations – sounds like you needed some good news.

      Let’s cook up a witches’ brew so that the Panthers – who appear to be one of the more homophobic teams in the league – do NOT win the Cup.

      1. I still do need some positivity, but I’ll go into tonight’s game with every intention to enjoy it, no matter who’ going to win!
        I didn’t know that the Panthers are one of the more homophobic teams. Though they give off rather ultra male vibes…
        Am surprised by the Stars’ great fight, I’m not sure why I prefer them to the Knights. It can’t only be because I like their colours better?
        So of those two teams, which should I cheer for?
        So that I’m stll allowed to read my mm hockey books?
        Btw just got the notification that my pb copy of Heated Rivalry is FINALLY about to be delivered (ordered in in February?).

        1. Stars or Knights – no preference here so cheer for whoever is cutest on average.

          Hope you enjoy Heated Rivalry.

        2. It’s now the Panthers versus the Stars in Cup Finals. So weird to see two teams south of the Mason-Dixon Line in the HOCKEY finals. Do any kids even play hockey in a Florida and Texas??

          1. Panthers and Knights.
            Kids with sticks in the jungle and desert?
            Ice rinks in a hot climate? Absurd…
            Did you see the massive crods in Latvia celebrating the bronze medal?

  2. I have been thinking about this post for a little bit. Is it possible to be fulfilled in the moments, but not quite there overall?

    Focusing on the moments, fulfilled by board games with my kids, and with friends (Ticket to Ride, Catan), by delivering food to a friend whose family all had the lurgy, freezing some of the feijoa harvest, wearing a jersey my mum made me that is the warmest thing ever, knitted with love. Not enough, there are things in my life that aren’t quite right just now, but these are moments.

    I feel like there’s some analogy with clouds I’m reaching for but can’t grasp – something to do with when you look up and get low fluffy clouds, gorgeous whispy high altitude cirrus, and blue sky all at once. Maybe I’m just obsessed as we had great nor’west clouds this week.

    1. I think it is possible! Though maybe it would fall under a different term if it’s not constant, but I think striving to have as many of those moments as possible in your life (which can sometimes be achieved by just a minor tweak in perspective) makes the contentment you feel in those moments bleed into other moments in your life, hopefully until it becomes a more constant state. It’s hard to be content all the time because that entails being content even through life’s inevitable downs, so I think it’s normal to feel this way. But I think once contentment becomes more commonplace, it helps you weather the downs with more equanimity.

    2. I definitely think it’s important to grab onto those moments. I was having a big problem with depression and one of the things I learned was to find those moment of beauty and warmth and say out loud (if nobody was around), “In this moment, I am happy.” Because otherwise, the depression drowns it all out. It’s one of the reasons we started Happiness Sundays back on ReFab. Attention must be paid.

  3. Gregory Brown sounds a lot like Carpenter from Agnes and the Hitman.

    I have been struggling this week but it’s something to work towards. We watched the last episode of Mrs. Maisel last night and it was good. That made me happy. Nothing like killing a good show with a lousy ending, which happens a lot.

    And I have Monday off. Time is so precious and I am looking forward to it.

  4. What’s fulfilling right now is that I’m spending a chunk of the weekend doing the online courses and certification for my Boating/Pilot License – The courses are dull enough to make one stick pin’s in one’s eyes….impellers and zebra mussels and rocket flares and bilges…but fulfilling nevertheless because I will finally be able to drive our Sea-Doo at the cottage. Learned helplessness is no longer working for me.

    Happy Memorial Day long weekend to my American friends!

  5. Yesterday — with my daughter’s permission while she is off to her college reunion — I picked up and vacuumed one room of her 1 bedroom apartment. I also picked up the kitchen, cleared the counters, and washed them. It took me 5 hours.

    My daughter’s mobility is limited and she has a syndrome that includes chronic pain and fatigue, and she has always preferred nesting to living in cleared spaces. So I’m not criticizing her. In fact, I’m thrilled that she if off at her 15th reunion having a terrific time (she now has a power drive on her wheelchair which makes toodling around campus far easier than it was when she was a student). (I sent her photos of the cleaned living room and she was happy and thanked me.)

    Even better — I phoned my husband when I left my daughter’s apartment (it’s a 4-hour round trip), asking him to put a bottle of good white wine in the fridge. When I arrived at home, he grilled bbq chicken and veggies (especially local asparagus). The delicious dinner didn’t cost anything in pounds when I weighed myself this morning.

    I’m very, very happy.

    1. What a good mom, you are! And your husband is a dear, too. It’s great your daughter got to her reunion.

    2. “powered wheelchair” brought back a delightful. memory. There are two people who use powered wheelchairs that I see fairly often on the streets near where I work. An older woman and man, who I don’t often see together but sometimes do. One day they were going along the sidewalk chatting, her in front, him behind, and got to the intersection where I wait to turn right on my way home, so I was there when the crosswalk light changed in their favor, and I heard her say “Hang on!” and he held onto the back of her chair, and she must have hit overdrive, because they zoomed across the four lanes and three turning lanes, and then went back to their former pace on the other side.
      I just hope your daughter’s wheelchair has that much power!

  6. Well I have had a lovely flash of happiness this week. I have been shortlisted for a teaching prize at my university.
    I knew some of my students were planning to nominate me but I didn’t expect to be shortlisted at all.
    I am so so chuffed.

    1. Congratulations! How lovely that your students recognize your teaching ability and organized themselves to nominate you.

      1. That’s exactly what pleases me most, whether I win or not. That group was just lovely and we had a ball all year.

        1. That’s the best part of all. Awards are nice, but a good class provides joy all semester.

  7. We’ve had a tough week. My great nephew, 2 years old, fell into a pond and nearly drowned. He’s back to an infant state, but just yesterday had some improvement. I’m devastated for his parents and grandparents but am trying to focus on the improvement.
    My happy comes from opening a WIP for the first time in a year and finding I still like it. A few more days and it will be ready to go off to the editor. Such a feeling of contentment.

    1. That is awful, Stephanie. I hope he’s resilient and comes back to himself entirely.

  8. I agree with Lupe re: Carpenter. I read the article. It strikes me that it’s all just semantics, choosing these words for happiness or contentment, and so forth.

    My past is my past. Few regrets. None would be better, but oh well.
    My present is satisfactory and satisfying.
    I have hopes for my future.

    I’m happy and I don’t care who knows it! (stamps feet, claps hands, says “hooray”)

  9. I made it through cataract surgery and my eye is doing well. In a few more days, I won’t have to sleep with a pesky patch over my eye, and I can lift things, bend over, and mow the hay in my yard. That was something I did not think about before the surgery. Next eye, I will mow right before the surgery day. Anyway, colors are more brilliant, I am getting used to looking out of one eye for distance and out of my glasses for close-up. I’m using a granny string for the glasses so they are there when I need them for reading, but not in the way of seeing distance when they are hanging down my chest. All these adjustments have to be good for my brain. Learning new things is good. It just feels so great to finally have made it to this point!

  10. The last few times I’ve come onto this site, all the posts already have a red heart with a +1 next to them, which I did not click on. What’s with that? I don’t mind. I usually click on each post, but I’m not used to it already being done, and there’s no record of any other clicks by members. Very strange.

    1. It is happening to me, and if I click on a post to show I like it, either the number goes down or the heart turns gray

      1. Me four! I was convinced there was something wrong with my computer system, so I didn’t want to speak up. Hope it can be fixed.

  11. Last months have been tough, rough and horribly taxing mentally. So much anxiety and sadness and frustration and anger and no way to let it out or let it go. Close to no support because people didn’t get it, and/or I couldn’t ask for help. Still wrestling with a lot of it.
    Picked up a book on finding/rediscovering/choosing happiness today, and I wanna go there. I wanna get back to being positive, problem-solving, passionate, inspired, full of joy and wonder. Not this… scared of feeling things at all. It’s like I’ve killed all emotions to not feel scared or sad anymore, but with the added effect that I don’t feel the good things either. I’m pasting on an upbeat LET’S DO THIS-persona and try to tackle it like Fake-It-Until-You-Make-It and hope it works. So far, it hasn’t.
    How do I get there? How do you open up to it all after repeated disappointments and doubts about your own capability? How do you let the sad out and the happy in? I’ve started doing things I actually don’t dare to do, like doing small in-store grocery-shopping alone (done once, something I’d normally feel/see as a HUGE victory but felt exactly nothing for afterwards), take the tram alone, play Street Fighter versus Sven live on his stream where everyone can see me fail (something that’s given me panic attacks just from considering it in the past), going to birthday parties where I only know the actual birthday-person etc, but so far it…hasn’t had the effect I hoped. Mostly, I feel nothing. Or pain, for some reason. I wanna stick up my middle-finger to all of it and just throw myself into positivity and happiness BUT I DON’T KNOW HOW! They say it’s just a matter of choice, but it feels like it’s bigger than that.
    Does anybody have any ideas, suggestions, words of wisdom? I’m so sick of this. I’m so sick of myself. I NEED to get back to feeling, seeking, wanting, opting for joy and happiness and hope for the future. I don’t wanna be sad and scared anymore. I don’t want past experience to hold me down or hold me back anymore. I don’t wanna fake feeling better than I do, I don’t wanna lie when people ask me: “Did you have fun today?” “Are you feeling good today?” “Does this make you happy?”, or: “What’s your passion?” “What makes YOU happy?” “What brings YOU joy?” I wanna actually feel it. I wanna know it.
    How do I break free?

    1. This sounds like a very painful time, Shass. Are you getting some counselling or similar support?

      1. Oh Shass, you are in a dark place indeed. I second Tammy’s question. It may be time for a counsellor or a new counsellor if you’ve already attended one who isn’t able to help you. It was the only way out for me, also medication—if only temporarily. (I am not espousing medication for all.) What I needed was a jolt to get me out of the abyss, even for a short time. To get my psyche remembering what it was like to not feel the way you describe.

        1. Tammy & Elizabeth Lewis: I just finished an 8 month therapy project and only have ties to the psychologist’s office still because I requested help with another issue, but I’m not in therapy right now. The sessions I might get after the summer are very targeted and won’t touch on this subject. Since they have not yet signed me out completely, I can come in contact with a psychiatrist and possibly get meds, or at least discuss the matter. Sad thing is that when I last talked with him back in February, we decided on not going back to meds because we didn’t think it was needed… One reason why I didn’t want it is because a few years ago when I was smack in the middle of depression, they tried to treat me with several different kinds of medication, and they didn’t do anything for me – instead, they made me feel even worse. So, I am not sure if there is even a medication left that we haven’t already tried and failed to make work. But, I suppose requesting a phone appointment with the psychiatrist can’t hurt.
          I do have contact with a social welfare officer through the association for blind and visually impared people here in the city. She can’t prescribe medication, but she has adi I can email her anytime or call the receptionist and she’ll try to get back to me asap. She’s already tried to support me a few times over the last month, and STILL I feel utterly lost.
          Thanks for your support and kindness, I’m literally trying not to cry here. <3 I don't want to feel like this anymore.

          1. I have been lucky enough to not go through a depression myself, but have two friends who suffered from that. One especially has had recurring bouts all her life.
            She doesn’t really have any tips or tricks to get through it faster, but maybe her experience can give you some support in getting through this anyway.

            What she tells me is that when a depression starts to lift, the first things she really starts to feel again, that get through that bleak fog, are anger and sadness, and for her the sadness often transmutes into anger.

            It takes months for that phase to pass, before more pleasant emotions can start to get through. It’s never pleasant, that period of anger and sadness, but she’s learned to recognise it as a symptom that she’s on the upward path again, on the way out of this bout of depression. As such she’s learned to greet the negative emotions as a positive sign, even though it’s still a bad period she needs to get through.

            For her, playing the piano is helpful; she practices every day and has become really good at it, which allows a wider choice in pieces to play. Picking a piece to study that expresses some of those feelings seems to help her with keeping a grip on them, so she doesn’t unload them all on her partner.

          2. One of the things that I’ve learned in decades of therapy is that depression is often a cover for anger we don’t want to express. Since we can’t express it, it festers inside us and makes everything dark. I don’t think that’s always true, but I think realizing how angry I was helped a lot. (I know everybody else realized how angry I was when they read Agnes and the Hitman, but I didn’t.)

          3. It doesn’t help from afar, but please know that you are not alone in dealing with depression. There’s nothing wrong with you. Those easily feeling happiness are blessed. But many, many of us are not.
            Big, big bear hugs!!

        2. Re: Jenny’s reply and others, I have read that depression is anger turned inward. I wish I could remember where I saw that, but it rings true. Letting that anger out sometimes just isn’t appropriate, or may be very detrimental to a career, which is where my bouts of depression came from. Women, minorities, LGBTQ people, those stuck in poverty, etm., all have reason to be angry AND depressed. I feel for anyone struggling with this on a daily basis. I doubt if it is comforting to know you are not alone, but you are not alone.

          1. Dear Shass,
            depression is a bitch, the only advice I could give is hang on and as far as possible get support (easier said than done).
            Almost everyone of my closer family has struggled with bouts of depression, but with the females of the family it always had to do with an imbalance of hormones – and that hasn’t been mentioned here before:
            For my mother it was due to abrupt menopause and the substitution of the hormones the body was lacking helped.
            Similar with me: I switched brands of contraception and the “milder” mix of hormones in the pill I took had very bad effects on my psyche. I’m deeply thankful to my very observant father to recognize the “culprit” even though a few years later I stopped taking the pill for good as a very dark mood was always lurking with those hormones.
            Later, the pregnancy with my daughter triggered the next bout of depression. One rarely reads about being depressed during pregnancy, mostly about post-partum depression. I presume the overload of female hormones to be a cause as with my son I felt simply great (I’m not a doctor so this is all very wobbly theory). After giving birth, I regained my mental balance again. Without medication (apart from Bach flowers).

    2. I’m so sorry you’re having such a rough time, Shass. ((((hugs)))) Forgive me for being blunt, but this sounds like depression. It is NOT a choice. It is NOT your fault. I would urge you to go to your doctor if you can. Antidepressants help many people. Counseling can help. Regular exercise, like taking long walks, especially in a place you find peaceful or beautiful, has been found to be as effective as antidepressants. These things can take some time to be helpful, but they do help and it will get better. In the meantime, instead of doing things that challenge you, do things that comfort you. Treat yourself as gently as you would treat a friend in your situation.

      1. There’s nothing to forgive, your “bluntness” is very refreshing. Lots of thanks for being blunt, and for the *hugs*. I’m actually happy someone says it so it gets a name instead of me just feeling out of place and strange and in the way of everybody. People around me go: “Can’t you try not to be sad all the time? Can’t you try to be positive? Can’t you try to do something?” I’m trying! It just doesn’t work. It’s not like I WANT TO feel like this! I’m trying to find ways to be kind to myself, but it’s hard when most things I used to enjoy only make me feel miserable… It really *does* sound like depression, doesn’t it? 🙁
        Taking long walks is a bit tricky for me because of my blindness, at least alone. I will try and ask my MIL if she can come take walks with me a bit more often. Thanks for the suggestion. <3 And for the caring words.

        1. Wait, this just registered: People think you can just change your mind about depression?
          These people are idiots. Ignore them. That’s like getting the flu and having people tell you you can just change your mind about being sick. No, actually, you’re gonna need treatment for that.

          1. I know, it’s nuts. And it hurts even more that some of them are some of the ones closest to me. People that normall would get me. Some of them have been through depression themselves. It feels like a slap in the face everytime they say something like that – but they can’t understand why I don’t want to talk to or confide in them now. If they ask how I’m doing, I’m lying. And I hate that. Lying is not a thing I do. 🙁

          2. I recently got “just focus on positive things and you’ll feel better” the other day, so yes, there are those who apparently think depression is a choice. I resisted the urge to ask “how are those positive thoughts working at curing your diabetes?”

    3. It’s not a choice. It’s something that happens to you, like getting lost on a road, and you can’t find your way back by standing in the middle of the road and announcing, “I’m going to go home now.” You have to find the way home, and the only way I know to do that is to retrace my steps, back to where I started to lose my grip. If I can find the beginning, something that I told myself was fine, that I could handle, and therefore didn’t handle, I can start to untangle the mess. Having said that, it’s taken years of therapy to realize I couldn’t write because I was depressed and that depression has to be treated, that telling yourself it’s fine is just a way of kneecapping yourself. So I figure you’re way ahead of the game, you know something is wrong and it’s not fine. So get help. Get a good therapist and tell her exactly what you’ve told us and let her help you find out where it all started, the sand in the machinery.

      If it helps, there are a lot of us out there. I’ve had weeks this summer where I just curled into the fetal position and tried to keep breathing. That doesn’t actually work, I’ve realized. Some days the only thing that gets me working is those damn e-mails from Bob: “Book done yet?” Or Krissie or Pat cheerleading me about the future. But the bottom line is, I have to figure out where this comes from and get whatever the hell this is out of my way. And it sounds like you do, too. Stop beating yourself up for not feeling happy and figure out what you’re feeling lost. Yeah, that’s gonna take awhile.

      You are an amazing person, Shass. Doesn’t mean you’re happy, or that it’s your fault you’re not. But know that the fact that you’re aware of what you’re going through, and you’re trying to find your way means that you’re way ahead of a lot of people. And there are a lot of people here who care about you a lot. You can always come here and vent. God knows, I do.

      ETA: And you posted while I was posting and you’ve done the therapy thing. I apologize. Go back and get different meds. I think the Wellbutrin might have saved my life last winter. It’s mild but it helps.

      1. I just might be crying a little bit here (on the inside, so no one will notice, yes this situation is fucked up), because SOMEONE GETS ME. Finally. You guys get it. I’m crying with relief that you’ve given it a name and that it Is Not Me! It’s not me, it’s the freaking depression. Here I thought that I just wasn’t…choosing strongly enough to be happy, to move forward. Depression. Realizing and recognizing this makes it a bit easier to breathe. I thought I was broken. When people kept asking me what gives me energy, what brings me joy, what I’m passionate about and the only answer I could come up with was: “Nothing” or “I don’t know”, I thought that all the joy and optimism and passion and inspiration and enthusiasm and dreams I used to carry had been finally killed. I thought I was irreversably damaged or something. Maybe… maybe that is not true then, after all? There is still joy to find, there is hope?
        I can try to get hold of the psychiatrist and talk about meds. Maybe we can break this curse, once and for all. Thanks to all of you for being there. It means the world to me. I’d send you flowers and chocolate and hugs, if I could.
        What you’re saying, Jenny, is absolutely logical and I can see myself in it. You’re getting-home metaphor is brilliant and I’m gonna throw it in the face of the next person telling me I should try to not be so sad all the time. Yes, I have done the therapy thing and it only helped briefly, because being lost has become so strong a feeling the mini-tools they gave me to solve it weren’t enough. Besides, there were other problems coexisting with the depression, so it all cooperated in dragging me down. Now that we’ve sorta solved all the other stuff, maybe I can kick depression’s arse, IF I get some help to get out of the very deep hole I’m drowning in now. With you people as backup, it should be doable. It DOES help to know that you are out there, all of you. You’ve been there for me before when times have been bad, and also when they’ve been good. I feel safe here, and I’m so, so grateful for all of you and your kind words. You Arghers are love incarnate.
        I’m proud of mysef for choosing to share this with you. You’ve already been invaluable. I hope this means I can turn the tide and embrace positive change. It’s Whitsuntide, so the psych will be closed tomorrow, but I’ll try to get hold of someone first thing I do on Tuesday.
        I want to get out of this hellhole and rediscover joy. Thanks to you Arghers, maybe it will really happen this time-. <3

        1. We’re pulling for you, Shass! Please keep checking in, I’m just a lurker usually, but your story is resonating. We care.

          1. Thank you <3 I'd chose the Arghers on my team any day. You all are wonderful people. I can't imagine a better backup.

        2. Just a comment about choice. I am ridiculously absurdly happy. I don’t choose it. I don’t work at it. I just am. I always have been.(I hope it lasts forever, but who knows.) So I know from the other side that choosing your emotions is just plain silly.

        3. Good for you. I found it helped so much having a name for what I was trapped in, instead of “lazy, disorganized, unmotivated, and useless.” And it’s rife right now. I googled: approximately 280 million people in the world have depression right now, so we’re not alone. It’s just trying to fight it alone that takes us under. Keep checking in, please, just so we know you’re okay.

          1. We’re all messed up these days from pandemic, and 2020’s, and everything else, even if the rest of your life is fine.

            Work has REALLY REALLY REALLY BEEN GETTING ME DOWN, like I just feel like a horrible, evil, stupid, bad FAILURE person every single day there and I can’t stop inexplicably fucking up all the time and getting written up and shamed for things ranging from “yes, I’m a horrible fuckup at service, that is legitimate” to “I literally cannot believe you write me up for this super petty stupid shit and I would bet money you don’t write anyone else up here for “closing the blinds” when they are not closed.” Service is Not For Me, but I haven’t been able to get another job in ten years because all jobs are service and all anyone sees of me is a shitty service person. I’m stuck putting up with this because it’s my best option compared to ending up homeless. My therapist says I’m the scapegoat.

            I don’t know if it’s “depressed” or not, though. My HMO said it was not and I’m not going to get any help from them. They don’t consider me clinically diagnosable or having problems anyway because I’m not 100% messed up, I can get out of bed and go to work every day, I’m not slicing up my wrists or whatever. I have no excuse for my failures other than I’m….just….dumb and bad…at this. I really have no idea what to make of this. Something may or may not be medically/legitimately wrong with me, but apparently not bad enough to really count or be determined.

            All I can do is just keep swimming, though.

          2. Giving the beast a name surely did something already (Thanks Carolc!). It’s not that I feel reborn now, but so relieved I know what it is. Like you said: It’s not laziness then, it’s not stupidity or unwillingness or whatever, it’s D-E-P-R-E-S-S-I-O-N, and it explains why things don’t work out or feel good no matter how hard I try. It’s not that I don’t want, it’s that right now I can’t, because of this shite. Now to find a way to turn it around.
            I’ve just sent an email to the head psychologist at the department I was last at (anxiety) and told her about my plans to contact the psychiatrist tomorrow. I’m not sure what she’s gonna do with it, but she said that I could always reach out if something in my situation changed for the worse. It has, so: There, an email, you’re welcome. Enjoy. Whatever.
            Thanks again for the support. Yes, I am a broken record. <3

          3. Shass, I just wanted to add my voice to the people saying I care and I’m sorry you’re going through this. That sense of numbness is awful and it really doesn’t help when people tell you that you should be able to feel stuff.

            I’m always glad to see your posts and I’m impressed at all the things you manage to do. I hope the psychiatrist has great ideas about how to help.

        4. Good for you for sending the email! I know how hard it is to take any steps! We’re on your side.

          1. This is a reply to Jennifer’s post but I couldn’t find a way to post it to her comment. Jennifer I think your workplace sounds very toxic for you & your mental health. Perhaps service roles are not for you or maybe a service role in a more creative industry would be a better fit given you obviously have artistic talents with your acting, singing dancing & imaginative crocheting abilities. I hope you don’t really buy into the negative workplace vibes. Be kind to yourself have a wonderful time with your new production.

        5. I have a different story to share, not because I think it’s right for your situation, but for diversity of experience.

          Mine is a (peri) menopause story. Which for me meant a gradual loss of self, joy, pleasure, interest in doing the things that I enjoyed, lack of resilience etc. No hot flushes etc, just emotional and cognitive symptoms. (Also see lack of concentration, word loss).

          I went on MRT. 25mg estradot patches twice a week and cyclical progesterone (utrogestan, 2 caps daily for 12 days per month). Oh my fucking god. Life changing, practically instantly. Within a week. I had put off filling the scrip, then taking it. I didn’t want to take ‘old lady medicine’. I cried about it (I was an idiot). I can’t tell you the difference it made. I had really no idea how bad it had got until I felt like me again. I was 43.

          Anyway, this is not everyone’s story, depression is it’s own thing in itself, but I’m raising this for everyone because I had previously had no idea. So many women are prescribed anti-ds (at best, or told to get over it, luv/empty nest/imagination at worst) when the root cause might not be depression, but the gradual loss of happy hormones. And women shouldn’t have to just deal, so I tell everyone, in case it helps someone else.

          All the best Shass and everyone else suffering. ‘For all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world’ and more beautiful for all of you in it.

          1. Thanks for sharing your story! It must’ve been rough to go through. Good to hear there is a solution for this as well. Life-changing sounds amazing. Happy you found out what it was and could get what you needed.
            I only just turned 34, so I guess technically I could be in both camps, since early menopause is a thing. Most women in my family didn’t run into menopause until their 50’s though, so I hope(!) this is “just” depression. Let’s start there.

    4. Having experienced depression at various junctures, I understand what a dark time this is for you. Medication has helped me but counselling and therapy have guided me through it. Depression is like living in a black cloud – that’s all you know. It’s also a liar because there is more but you can’t see it. You need help to get through it. Not going to lie and say it’s an easy journey. Please know that you aren’t alone.

    5. Shass, I just wanted to add my voice to the people saying I care and I’m sorry you’re going through this. That sense of numbness is awful and it really doesn’t help when people tell you that you should be able to feel stuff.

      I’m always glad to see your posts and I’m impressed at all the things you manage to do. I hope the psychiatrist has great ideas about how to help.

    6. Hi Shass, as someone who has been there I am so sorry you are having to deal with the deep hell & untruthfulness of Depression. Anyone who thinks you can make a choice to bring ‘joy’ into your life when you are dealing with the often overwhelming mental mire of depression is very naive; albeit kindly wanting to help you. But as dark as things may seem now there is absolutely a way through this when you get the support you need. You have been so courageous & articulate in how you have described your thoughts & inability to feel at all so it may be helpful showing your post to the professional you connect with in case at that time you don’t feel able to describe the situation. And if it is some time before you can get an appointment there are now some reputable online organisations that provide free resources that may be of help too. The very best of wishes, take care of you.

    7. Dear Shass,
      Right after I got out of the psych ward for depression (17 days in 1992) the hospital I went to started a support group for patients and their families. One woman whose husband was then an in-mepatient said, “I don’t know why he doesn’t just pull up his boots and get on with it!” I’ve never heard a better illustration of the gap between how society understands depression and how a depressed person experiences it.

      Depression is not a matter of choice although how you deal with it is. And what works for one person isn’t necessarily helpful for another. Unfortunately, a few of the things that reminded me that I was still capable of enjoyment at that time would be less accessible with your vision problems.

      I find picture books enormously comforting and entertaining. Anything by Mo Willems, James Marshall or any other author or illustrator with an anarchic sense of humor will help drag me back to the surface. Wind up toys helped. Being told that once I found “My Passion”, I’d be okay, did NOT help. I am 66 and still have no idea what that passion might be. Does that mean I never get to be happy?

      Volunteering helped. Doing something that helped people despite the fact that professionally I was a failure made me feel much better about myself. At the end of every 2 hour shift at the Food Depository they tell you how many pounds of food your group packed and how many hungry people that amount can feed. It helps put your struggles at work in perspective.

      Although it can be hard on your cholesterol and blood sugar levels, chocolate definitely helps, as do other favorite foods. Exercise can also help, because, like eating chocolate, it also stimulates the production of endorphins in your brain.

      But any thing that takes you out of how other people see the world and the fact that you do not fit that model is a good break. My brother , who is also no stranger to depression, suggested I read a book that had made a big difference in his outlook. I am now on page 461 of 497 and so far the only actionable advice I’ve found is about how to learn how to say NO to things after spending years of being a people pleaser. I know how to say No, I need help in wanting to say Yes and that is what I hear you saying, too.

      One thing that did help was promising myself that I would no longer lie to myself or other people about how I felt. Since many of the people who ask do so only to be polite. It is better to change the subject or make a non-committal comment than to feel like you have to lie to be socially acceptable.

    8. No advice, but wanted to say I’m sorry you’re going through this. Been there, didn’t have good answers for myself either. Glad you could share with us, and hope our presence offered a tiny bit of positivity or safety for you.

    9. Dear lovely, wonderful, amazing, caring Arghers!
      Thank you ALL for chipping in, giving advice, telling your stories, relating, supporting, encouraging, Being There. It’s worth more than I have proper words for. The worst part of many mental struggles is when you get the feeling that you’re alone in it, that no one sees you, hears you, understands you, supports you and all you see is that dark cloud and bottomless pit with no light anywhere to move towards. You stand in the middle of that metaphorical road and scream so loud you almost explode: “I WANNA GO HOME NOW!”, but you can’t find way back and your screams fade out, unheard. You’re sad or numb or angry or scared, feeling lost, powerless, crushed, and you are not ALLOWED to feel all these things because what you *should* do is “think positive thoughts” and “not be so sad all the time”. The result? You – or rather: They – amplify all of it thousandfold.
      I’ve been despairing over the last months because where I’m always doing my very best to help other people NEVER to have to feel that lost and alone since I know from experience that is real torture to feel, there are very few who do the same for me. Now when I needed support the most, I was left to freefall into the black tar-pit. That hurts. A lot.
      But, I am not alone anymore. You all saw me. You said: “Hi, we’re here! We see you. We hear you. We sense you feel lost. We feel your pain. It’s a hell to be inn and to get out of, but there IS hope. Change can happen. We’ve got your back. You are not alone. Here, be safe. Have a blanket and a hug or a billion, and a ton of chocolate so you’re fortified for the road ahead. We’ll walk beside you. You can do this thing!”
      I’m so sorry many of you have had to deal with this too. Please know that should you land there again, I will always see you! It’s messed up that even in 2023 people don’t understand what depression is, means and does to a person, and how much their “think positive thoughts!”-junk can hurt. It’s not like I’m doing this on purpose to ruin other peoples’ day or lives. I want to brighten them, that’s always what I’ve been aiming for.

      I have called the psychiatrist and got a phone-appointment for June 9th. Feels like oceans of time away. Still, well done, me.
      Head-of-department shrink also mailed back and offered to call me Friday morning (June 2nd), if I need to talk. Might take her up on that offer.
      Reading Witches Abroad, because headology. And bananananananas.
      Trying to plan depression-countering activities. It’s hard. But I’m trying.
      I’m thinking, maybe I should invest in a punching bag.
      I’m sad. And I’m angry. I desperately need a really good cry somewhere where I can be alone. I need to release this pain.
      But I’m also determined. Motivated. Relieved that I know what this is. Now I can look for a way to fight it instead of beat myself up for being so bad at exactly everything. This, thanks to all of you. <3
      I. Am. Not. Alone.

      1. Shass, many great ideas there:
        Eating: there is foodstuff that can elevate serotonin levels. Apart from chocolate. Can’t remember ehich exactly, bit a short search on ecosia.org will help, I’m certain.
        Stay away from heavily processed food. I guess remember myself having a VERY bad reaction to junk food once, would have never imagined how badly it can effect mental health.
        Do get a punching ball/sack. It helps. Having a release for bad energy AND getting exercise. Both important.
        Is ghere are chance to get your hormone levels checked? We females with monthly changes have quite some disadvantages… as Allanah said snd I experienced as well, sometimes the cause of the black cloud can be a physical one.
        What’s great: you’ve already reached out.
        You don’t just stand on the road, lost, but got the map out!
        Keep your calm and carry on!!

        1. And now that we’re talking about menopause I will mention that although I’ve been dealing with various levels of depression for years, I haven’t ever had a single symptom of menopause(other than the tapering off of my periods). I’d like to think that it is compensation,but I suspect that it is heredity. In any case,I am positive that Shass has earned a free pass on that one!

  12. I experience fulfillment and happiness every time I go to the flower farm. We’re planting new beds every day so I get to see the direct results of my efforts at the end of the day. My boss increasingly asks my opinion about planting, etc., which makes me feel valued for my knowledge. Plus, I get to watch the different flowers as they come into bloom.

    I spent an afternoon with my nephew who was in town for the weekend. We walked around the tulip beds. Ottawa hosted the Netherland’s Royal family during WW2 and has received Dutch tulips bulbs every year since. They are planted in huge beds around the city and are very impressive, even after peak bloom. My nephew had never seen them and was happy to walk around with him and get ideas for new bulbs for my garden.

    DH and I went to a memorial service for a friend’s father. It was a combination of speeches and cultural performances. My friend’s father was very interested in the arts and wrote poetry and songs in his native language. A family friend performed a traditional Indian dance to one of his songs which was wonderful to watch.

  13. Working towards contentment and optimism. The last couple of weeks have been rough. But several tasks on my to do list for quite a while (years!) were completed this week. Taking the wins where I can, and trying to learn not to beat myself up when there are still more things left that need to be done. Self flagellation, it’s a terrible habit.

  14. I’ve been happy to sit in my garden and enjoy the flowers – there are more roses & irises every day. I was thrilled to discover that a wall shrub I though I’d lost over winter has just started to shoot. I’d almost completely given up on it.

    Also had some great times with friends this week. And the long, sunny days mean that life’s more sociable – always people to chat to at the allotment, and I’ve got much more energy.

    Oh, and my nephew – who struggled at school due to his dyslexia (which meant he gave up very early on) – has just passed his emergency medical technician course. Next will be a paramedic degree, though he plans to consolidate in the new job for a few years first. We’re all really proud of him.

  15. I’m better at knowing I’m content than at happiness. A quiet week, with a couple events cancelled, which gave me more time to stare out the window at all the green.

  16. Three days off from counting votes from our state primary. Yay! Took a full 24 hours to go from cranky and stressed to reasonably satisfied. About more two days left to go.

    1. The happiness post is an inappropriate place to share this with you, but I can’t resist. My county’s turnout in the primary was 17.7%. Bad, but better than the statewide turnout which was 14.4%. Argh!

  17. I’m happy my son is moving out! Happy for him, largely, but also for me. I get these small bursts of pleasure when he shows he’s been listening and absorbing all these years. He worked out a budget for himself (he planned!) and found a nice apartment within that budget. He’s been poring over the Benefits for this Federal (USA) job, figuring out his medical and insurance choices, and proudly advised me that they will match his contributions to a retirement fund. (“Don’t leave free money on the table, Mom!”). Plus he’s considering where he will privately invest more of each paycheck. (Ok, I admit the fiscal responsibility gene is NOT from me.) Moving day is second week of July; I’m excited! And content.

    Oh, and my heart ultrasound gave me a clean bill of health; whew!

    1. Wow! I wish I had been as well prepared when I moved out. And good test results in the same week makes a very fine crop of happiness, indeed.

  18. I’m having a lovely weekend. I saw three theater shows, all of which were enjoyable. I would particularly recommend “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812” if you can catch it (the other two I saw are highly likely to not be seen elsewhere). A castmate of mine was playing Anatole and he got flirty with me and my mother during the show, which was delightful. Amazing set, amazing cast, SUPER fun show, just a giant party, not particularly sad despite the subject matter. Highly recommended.

    I spent some pleasant time with my mom and her boyfriend and we went shopping and didn’t get into a fight! Huzzah! I also discovered that my mom and her boyfriend are the sorts to go to a drag show, which is delightful.

    This week I actually could get into the two shows I auditioned for, since one is pretty short on people and the other is EXTREMELY SHORT ON PEOPLE, and that’s the one my friends are doing/not an hour away, so I’m gonna do that one. It’s Much Ado. I got Hero, of all the parts I would have never imagined me getting cast as (I note that the guy/girl who did Beatrice and Benedick previously came back and got them again). I’m pretty chuffed. However, when I say short on people, I mean like we got….six…people. Total. I’m really not sure how the show is gonna go on with the fewest people I’ve ever seen audition for anything and I’m not sure what went on, there since this director isn’t one that has annoyed the shit out of people like the last few Shakespeare directors have. I guess we’ll see. I asked if it was going to go on anyway and he said yes, so…. ???

    At any rate, HAPPY TO GET INTO ANOTHER SHOW ALREADY, because the shows are the one that get me out of super depressive mode (see above).

      1. Shakespeare Retold fixes the dodgy plot; the Much Ado and their Taming of the Shrew are so good.

    1. Yay for your good news! When I read your post about your job I just wanted to give you hugs.

    2. You got Hero!!! Yay!!! Super yay!!! (The 19th century traveling Shakespeare companies knew all about short on people. There are ways to double and even triple parts.) (Says the English major who has never actually tried to cut scenes.)

    3. Much Ado is my all-time hands down favourite Shakespearean play, and has one of my all-time favourite relationship moments ever.

  19. I haven’t come back to contentment yet, but I’m on my way. I am an unconscious hummer when I am content & I have caught myself humming a few times.

    That said – today I woke up anxious & not sure why. I went to a park and found a tree to commune with – it helped.

    I start therapy this coming Friday for the latest volcanic eruption that occurs when I hear something that has been buried but sounding off in my life as a result of the sexual abuse I experienced as a child. So frustrating at 60 to still be discovering destructive patterns that started decades ago.

    I started writing my wip with an accountability partner for the first time & I am liking the process.

    I have been seeking out laughter. Something on argh reminded me of the Streisand romcoms & I rewatched Owl & the Pussycat & What’s Up Doc. For Pete’s Sake is waiting in the wings.

    Still laughing at ISMO & David Nihill.

    I predict increasing instances of contentment ahead!

    1. I’m so sorry you keep having these eruptions. It makes me sad and angry that things like this exist in children’s lives. It’s not right.

  20. I have been enlightened, saddened, cheered up, and moved by all the comments on this blog. For those who are struggling — take care! Argh is behind you! For those who are feeling peace — even for a moment — treasure it. The fact that you shared it makes me feel better.

    1. What you said.
      Also the fact that the heart was gray and I clicked it red made me happy.

  21. Pretty much every day, I appreciate that my life allows me to choose (to a remarkable extent) how I spend my leisure time. Sometimes contentment is being on vacation in a scenic area and, rather than scurrying around to See Things, choosing to do nothing but hang out in the condo with DH to watch 8 hours of HGTV which we don’t get at home. Sometimes it’s driving over to a neighboring town to get Belgian waffles for breakfast and then taking an easy one-mile stroll in the woods. Sometimes it’s getting home from said vacation and choosing not to turn on the home computer At All for two days, instead of jumping right on to attack the Writer Bizness To-Do List.

    Sometimes happiness is spending 3.5 hours grooming the front yard, and sometimes it’s lounging in the den for an entire day, reading three books. I am a fortunate person.

  22. I idly chose to open up Bet Me to read with breakfast a couple of hours ago and just Cannot Stop Reading. Good thing I don’t work today. It is certainly making me feel happy, I’m not sure about fulfillment – there is a limit to how fulfilled one can feel lying with feet up on a couch. Alone, anyways!
    This book is a thing of beauty. Cast well, it could blow Harry meeting Sally out of the water.

    1. Thank you. I needed that today.
      Actually, Argh is a comfort every day. Such good people.

      1. I finished it! All in one go. So satisfying.
        Not sure whether to be proud of myself or chagrined. Luckily I started early so there is still a lot of day left.
        Wish I had a friend group like Min’s though. My gals moved all over the world.

  23. I am cat sitting over the weekend which has allowed me to see some friends who live out here. On Saturday I met a friend at the first farmers’ market of the season and listened while the locals got together for their weekly jam session. There were guitars, a bass fiddle, an accordion, a few mandolins, 4 banjos and a ukelele. They do this every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but I am seldom motivated to get up early enough to get there from the opposite side of town. Since I am staying a few blocks away I could get a good night’s sleep, feed the cats and still get there in plenty of time to hear most of the music.

  24. A couple of odd thoughts inspired by this thread:

    I thought I was content with my boatload of happiness – now I have a whole fleet.

    I love listening to Karen Carpenter singing Rainy Days and Mondays.

  25. I’m late to this but I wanted to say to Shass, and anyone else who needs to hear it, Depression lies. Every word it whispers to you is a lie and is, in fact, the opposite of reality. When it says that no one cares about you and that all the joy has been sucked out of life you can bet a nickel that you have lots of people who care and that joy is waiting for you. It is a lying liar who lies like a rug.

    What helps me a lot is to think of my depression as a separate thing that lives in my head and will do anything it can to stay alive. It makes itself stronger by getting me to believe the lies and I make it weaker by taking my pills, getting lots of vitamin D, and examining my thoughts for depression germs. Depression is a parasite that feeds on you. It’s not your fault and you can’t just magic it away like some people seem to think any more than you can magic yourself perfect sight. But you can starve it into submission.

    For me, because I have it chronically, it never really goes away but I have a very useful toolbox of very dirty tricks that help me combat it. I hope you are able to get the help you need in your real life. Argh people are here for you. If there’s anything I can do for you, let me know here. If I don’t answer, it’s because the wifi on the cruise sucks and I’m sure someone else will pick up the slack and help.


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