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Friday, September 26, 2008

Gray's your color, baby. It suits you.

"Are you happy?" she asked. She was asking about postpartum depression; specifically, if I had it. "I am," I replied, "just tired, and stressed out." We laughed about how all new moms are tired, and the conversation changed.

But it got me thinking. Am I happy? On a whole, overall, am I happy?

The answer is no.

I wouldn't say I'm unhappy. I just ... am. My life is a foggy, blurry run on - day upon day, punctuated here and there with moments of intense happiness, intense sadness, intense anger.

I can go back, in my mind, to those intensely happy days - the days my children were born, the day I got married, the day me and my dog (who has long since passed away) went and ate onion rings at a park on a gorgeous fall afternoon. Often these memories turn sour on me, playing tricks with me. Yes, that day Winston and I ate onion rings at the park was fantastic, but the sky and the light and the color of the trees was exactly like the day, a year and some days later, I learned that a good friend was on a doomed flight from Boston, with an unscheduled layover at the World Trade Center. Memories are funny like that.

Intensely sad memories, on the other hand, start out sour and stay that way. I do my best not to dwell on these thoughts - the memories of miscarried babies and cheating lovers and friends on flights from Boston. The sadness does lessen in intensity as time goes by, which I guess is to say that time heals all wounds. I wouldn't disagree with that - my first son passed away nearly six years ago, and try as I might, I simply can't cry for him anymore. That furious grief that gnawed at me for years has been relegated to a feeling of emptiness - when I recall my perfect boy, who died in the womb, I feel hollow.

So am I happy? Most certainly not. I am definitely a glass-half-empty sort of person. But am I depressed? I don't think so. I don't spend a lot of time feeling sad. I seem to have as much energy as ever... well, as much as can be expected with four little children to care for. I have a thousand little joyful moments throughout my days, coupled with a thousand little aggravations. I don't dwell on either of them - the joy or the pain - which may be the cause of my deep "blah-ness."

That's not to say I haven't ever been depressed. I've suffered my share of mental illness, dating back to 1995, which, means I was 13 years old when it started. There were a lot of painful things going on in my life, and most of them are more painful as I gain adult perspective. I'd rather not think about it, to be perfectly honest. Suffice it to say I was raised in a manner that would best be called "Expressway to the Looney Bin." There have been numerous suicide attempts and hospitalizations and medications - more than I'd care to remember. And addictions have factored into the equation in their own insidious way too... maybe the oxycontin ruined my frontal lobe, and that's the source of my emotional neutrality. One can hope.

While I may never know what it means to be happy, or to experience the joy of being alive, I can say with some degree of certainty that I am in no danger of topping myself. I just exist. That's all. And you know what? I think I'm okay with that.

1 comment:

Momma Bear said...

wow we have alot in common.