Monday, June 6, 2011

How To Be Happy

I actually had my dad buy me a book once with that title. It was a small and whimsical little picture book purchased at the overpriced bookstore in the center where the movie theater is in downtown San Francisco, which of course by now I have long forgotten the name of. I was severely depressed and looking for a way to find my light, my happiness. Woven into a bunch of brightly photo-shopped neon frog and fish pictures, this book used insightful quotes and pondering phrases to inspire uplifting thought. It basically stated happiness is a choice. It is not dependent on outside circumstance. You choose to see the positive and march forward, never looking back or down. Unfortunately that did little to lift my intense, constant and pervasive despair. I needed a better answer than that! For I was slowly losing my grasp and did not know what to do about it. After a youth spent self-medicating my feelings away here I was, 25 years old, newly and happily married, living in the city of my dreams with my career going quite well and so utterly miserable all I could do was mope and cry. I was angry all the time. Angry at work, angry at home. I was angry at the bar downstairs from our house we spent way to much time at and angry with the homeless person at the end of my street. I was just plain angry at being angry! I suppose you could call this my early-life crisis. So many of my friends were having babies during their post-college post-marriage days. Flinging themselves into the frenzy I can only imagine that motherhood is. Or they were strutting their single Sex In The City-selves around town, partying it up and living large. I did not fit into either world.

For I was married yet alone. My husband worked 40+ a week and was pursuing 2 finance undergraduate degrees. He was really really busy. I was making friends from work, but all anyone ever wanted to do was go out drinking, and although this was boring it was indeed an effective way to pass the time and forget about being miserable. And we most certainly were not ready for that baby, for about 100 different reasons. So I existed in this vortex, this void, and would march up and down the hills of North Beach, popping into churches I never went to, pleading and crying to God please please make me not feel so much pain in my heart! Seething as I furiously speed-walked past the happy friends and families shopping and playing and eating on Pier 39. Bitterly I watched the sea lions fight for top-dog alpha in the animal world, beached on algae-covered pilings in the bay. Any semblance of normal happy life devastated me, for it was a sharp reminder that I was anything but normal and happy. Finally I sought out counseling. It helped, substantially. I learned about my neglected inner child and default behaviors and lack of boundaries or setting limits with myself. I learned that my life was my choice. I could make it what it was. Not necessarily easy, a tremendous amount of hard work actually. But ultimately mine to do with what I will.

After 3 years my therapist let me go. Well really she moved away, and I was referred on. And right about then is when I got sick. And I thank God I had obtained, retained and honed the life-skills my therapist had helped me discover and use. I was such a mess as I was folding into the cyclone of Fibromyalgia and CFS. What if I had never seen that woman? What if I had still been horribly depressed? I shudder to imagine what a depressed me would have done with a sick me. But does depression suppress the immune system (I think yes), so we become more susceptible to infection and disease? Did this depression help precipitate the viral infection that gave me CFS and damaged my central nervous system, leaving me with Fibromyalgia after all is said and done? So much research goes into the Fibromyalgia-depression connection. I can tell you I have had depression, and I have Fibromyalgia, and I have been depressed because of Fibromyalgia. They are all 3 very distinct and individual states of being. Yet many of us are put on anti-depressants as the first course of treatment when we fall ill and start seeking out medical answers that no doctor can seem to find.  Told we are depressed, that is all. Hogwash!! Well I for one look forward to getting to know these answers as the dawning of a new day of Fibromyalgia awareness and research is ushered in, spurred by the thousands of patients that want to know too, want to get better. Patients who refuse to shut-up and suffer in silence. Patients that demand a quality of life, and don't stop until they find it. Patients that are on a crusade to change the reality of living with Fibromyalgia...what we call...The Fibromyalgia Crusade!

Thanks for joining,

1 comment:

  1. thanks Leha,it was well written as usual I am not suffering in silence no more.I thank you for this crusade. I always thought I was alone but I see there are many of us fighting this disease.Please keep writing.