When local blogger Alex reached out and asked if I wanted to be part of this year’s Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. Because…
1) I’ve met Alex in person exactly once and have already decided that someday we will be super good friends and I’m working on a plan to ingratiate myself to him. Step one: say yes to all requests!
2) I love Pittsburgh. My adopted city is brimming with creative, interesting people and I make a point to take advantage of every opportunity to meet more of them. Even better if I get to introduce you to some of them.
In other words: we’re strangers. We know nothing about each other. She asked me what she should write about on my site and I said, “well, I usually talk about happiness and what that looks like/means for different people.” With that auspicious start, I admit that I didn’t have a lot of expectations for this post.
And then, while I was sitting in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport Sunday afternoon, I got Katrina’s email with her post attached.
Kismet. Perfection. And another reminder that some truths are universal, even if the paths that leads us to them are uniquely our own.
Friends, I give you, Katrina’s happiness journey:
I must admit, when I saw I was to write for Britt today, I got a little nervous. I thought to myself, “What do I know about happiness?”
I have not always been a happy person; in fact, I have spent a good portion of my life being a very unhappy person.
I’ve struggled with depression on and off since I was a teenager, but even as a child, I was usually the one crying. I am a very sensitive soul and things tend to get to me, even when I know they shouldn’t or even when I know they are not intended to hurt me. But I have made leaps and bounds over the past few years. I have felt a twinge of depression creeping in now and again, but I have been able to fight it back before it overwhelmed my life.
I wish I could tell you how I’ve done that, but it’s just been a conscious decision to not let it in. And I know, I KNOW, that it may seem like the impossible, but it has been possible for me.
I was in a very dark place a few years ago. I was living alone, completely alone, for the first time in my life. My best friend had graduated and moved away. I didn’t have a license so I couldn’t even make it home to see family without a pre-arranged ride. I lost my job and three days later, my boyfriend at the time broke up with me.
I’m not sure I’ve ever been that low…but one by one, as the blows came, I decided to just ride the wave. But I also decided to plan for the future and made an appointment with Duquesne University’s Psychology Clinic.
The next available appointment was more than a month away, so I decided that I would give myself 30 days. I could scream and cry and lay in bed all day. I could eat junk food or not eat at all and binge watch Netflix. I could be completely selfish and do whatever I felt like doing. Thirty days of any of those things were not going to do irreparable damage, but once those 30 days were up, that was it, I had to pull it together.
And so I did all of those things. I cried for days. I screamed into my pillow until my voice was hoarse. I ate whatever I felt like eating and I ate it cold if I didn’t feel like cooking. I blew through Weeds and Lost and countless other shows.
But a funny thing happened well before those 30 days were up…I began to feel better.
I started going for walks and reaching out to other friends online. I started applying for jobs and may have even put up an online dating profile. The crying mostly stopped and I stopped sleeping 16 hours per day. By the time my appointment at the Psychology Clinic rolled around, I felt good.
I still went to the appointment…and 2-3 after that, but even the clinician said that I was in a really good headspace. But what had gotten me there?
I think so often we do not give ourselves time to feel. We don’t want to be seen as weak or fragile, so even though we are breaking on the inside, we try to put forward a happy face…and that can, unfortunately, make things worse.
I know not everyone has the luxury of 30 days to grieve, but even an evening or a weekend could help. We can’t all be 100% happy, 100% of the time. I think it’s important to recognize that happiness may not be your default state and it is okay to have to work for it. And it is okay to have to take some detours sometimes.
I have worked hard…and I am here, I am happy. And every so often, I think back about where I was, and how far I have come and that puts a smile on my face.
Seriously you guys, kismet. I am right this moment preparing to give a talk on Feeling Your Feelings in Palm Springs.