In previous posts I’ve mentioned that I work in healthcare. To be exact I work at a nursing home so for most of my day I’m submerged in a population of people in their 80’s-90’s. Some reading this may be thinking “that must suck” but truthfully, I adore my job. I am one of the fortunate millennials who gets to hear stories of war told via the perspectives of the soldier, the wife and the civilian and learn from a generation that chased after love and adventure rather than Instagram likes. No matter what kind of day I’m having, spending time with my residents brings me happiness or at least a familiar feeling.
Today I found some extra time in my shift to go down to one of my residents room to visit with her. She was elated to see me as I was her. When I’m with my residents I feel safe, I feel the most me, I feel loved, I feel happy but today I must have been extra chipper as my resident looked at me and asked “are you always happy?” Which momentarily left me speechless. I wasn’t sure how to answer that question as I was unclear what prompted her to ask it. Truthfully the answer to that question is “no.” I don’t believe it’s possible to always be happy — especially for me due to having depression.
I’ve came to the realization, after a recent toxic relationship, that I need to start being honest and authentically me, which means, not keeping my feelings from people in my life. Naturally, being at work, I chose my response carefully and delivered a professional yet honest answer. I told my resident that I’m not always happy but that she makes me happy. I told her that sometimes I’m sad and she is a person who can turn that sadness into happiness. And none of that is untrue.
I often find myself struggling to find happiness or in situations where I know I’m supposed to feel happy yet I don’t. I know that I have a lot to be grateful for and that many look at my life and wish they were as lucky as I am. I do my best not to bemoan my life; however, being happy for me isn’t always a feeling, sometimes it’s a forced action.
Part of how I cope with the crippling sadness I endure from time to time is I (if I can) force myself to participate in events I know make me happy on my good days. Spending time with my residents, talking to them, and learning from them is something that sincerely bring happiness to my life. There are days where the sadness is too overwhelming and I can’t force myself to do the things I know bring me happiness, but I try my hardest to. I’ll walk my dog even if I don’t feel up for it, I’ll hang out with one of my friends (the ones who understand) even if I’m not in the mood to do much, I’ll take a shower and put on a face mask, I’ll write or read or listen to music.
I don’t think that this tactic is the best nor do I believe it works for everyone. There are still days where I can’t force myself to do those things and on those days I stay in bed or on the couch. Personally, this tactic helps. If I’m sad and I do something I know normally makes me happy I can remember what happy feels like or at least remember that I am capable of being happy. It isn’t a cure for the sad but it is a healthy reminder that I will be happy again and that I must keep pushing forward until I get there.