This Thing Called “Happiness”

I’ve been struggling to find this magical place people call, “happiness.” It’s not that I haven’t tried. I’ve moved to an entirely new state in a beautiful loft apartment with the man I will soon call my husband and our adorable (yet infuriating) puppy.

What more could I possibly want out of life?

I’ve done enough therapy and have gone through enough in my life to understand what the root causes of this happiness struggle are. Being bipolar forces me into this constant state of being self-aware of my emotions.

The two areas that stem my issues with happiness are:

  1. Presence
  2. Confidence

I used to have both of these, which is a time I can recall being the happiest I’ve ever been. But now, even as things written on paper are beautiful, they are equally as brutal.

It’s called grief.

After the loss of my best four-legged friend, Luna, I lost a part of me. Something in me switched that I haven’t yet been able to turn back on. I lost my ability to be present. I lost my confidence.

She was the only soul on this planet who knew every fine detail of me and never once thought any less of me. She was the one I did my podcasts with, wrote my book with, went hiking with, cried in my car driving across the country with. Luna was the one who saved my life when I was ready to down a bottle of pills a few years back.

She was my everything.

I used to be the person who would soak in every beautiful moment and truly know deep down in my core that these moments shouldn’t be taken for granted. I’d take mental photos and tuck them into my memory bank so as to never be forgotten. I was present.

I used to be the person who could walk into a room without a care in the world of what anyone else thought of me. Why need to care when the only one you care about loves every your every flaw? I was confident.

But somewhere along my journey of grief, I lost those two things when I lost her. And it changed everything for me.

Through grieving, I’ve learned a lot. That doesn’t mean I’ve applied what I’ve learned. That’s the hardest part I believe of taking any journey of healing. It’s the application.

I know that I need to feel everything I’m feeling rather than letting it all sit inside of me to fester and boil.

I know that I need to be proactive with my mental health.

I know that I have to let go of my past so I can live in my present.

But no matter how much I try, I can’t seem to apply. I can’t get myself to get up in the morning and do what makes me happy. Because there’s this little empty pit inside of me that can’t be filled. She’s not here to complete it. I can’t fake any more smiles because as much as I wanted change to happen in my life, it was all too much at once.

Change. Everything changed. Everything changed the moment I decided to publish that book. Everything changed the moment we found Luna on the side of the road. Everything changed when we signed that lease. Everything changed when I said yes. Everything changed when Miles came home. Everything changed when my therapist said the words, “bipolar disorder.”

Everything changed and I didn’t change along with it all.

But isn’t that life? Constantly changing. Maybe our job is to evolve with change. To mold ourselves into these new creatures by shedding away layers of what once was so we can become what is.

We have to grieve the person we once were to make room for the person we want to become.

Grief sneaks up on you when you don’t see it coming. You pretend like it’s not there lingering in the back of your stomach until it all comes to the surface and next thing you know, you’re spewing out tears like a bug you can’t get over.

I’m not only grieving the loss of Luna, but I’m also grieving the loss of myself. Of the person I used to be. And quite frankly, I’m fucking exhausted from so much grief.

I don’t know if happiness is a feeling, a place, or a state of being. But what I know is that I can’t seem to find it these days.

Meditate, they say.

Journal, they say.

Exercise, they say.

Cry, they say.

Instead, I walk around numb to the world around me. I’m not present. I’m not confident. I’m just numb.

Maybe tomorrow will feel different. Maybe I’ll be a little less numb. Maybe tomorrow a little part of me will wither away to make room for another part of me to grow.

Or maybe I won’t feel any different.

But I know, more than anything, that I don’t want to be numb anymore. I want to be here in this beautiful, brutal world I’m living in. I don’t want to look back when it’s far too late and only wish I’d been around more. I want… I need to get the feeling back in my legs.

I just don’t know where to start.

Lauren Dow is the author of In Body I Trust, host of the podcast, Lauren Dow Talks. She is a mental health advocate dedicated to normalizing the conversation about mental illness and reminding others life is worth living. Learn more about Lauren’s work at laurendow.com.

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Author of “In Body I Trust” | Host of the Podcast “Lauren Dow Talks” | Writer on Mental Health and Healing | laurendow.com | instagram.com/laurendowwrites

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Lauren Dow

Lauren Dow

Author of “In Body I Trust” | Host of the Podcast “Lauren Dow Talks” | Writer on Mental Health and Healing | laurendow.com | instagram.com/laurendowwrites

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