more thoughts on defining happiness/recovery

More than half of my entries have been inspired by stomachaches so severe that I have to force myself to eat and drink water while I try to make sense of why my brain decided to douse me in self-doubt completely out of the blue. I like to think of it as a (kinda fucked up) reminder that I need to write or do something more useful with my creativity than “what if” myself into oblivion.

I’ve had an intense last year or so, but overall, I am a happy person. I’m living in a new city that I love, spending time with some of my favorite people, and exploring new places every day. I’ve been told that, as much as someone can be recovered from anxiety and PTSD, I am out of the woods.

That being said, after several weeks of feeling great, today my brain and my body convened to make my afternoon a painful mess.

I’m working on accepting that “recovered” doesn’t mean there still won’t be waves that come crashing over me out of nowhere, leaving me disoriented and uncertain in their wake. I’m working on not fearing those waves, even if they make me feel like a puddle of a human being. There are times when I’m stubborn enough to think that recovery means I can prevent unpleasant feelings from existing altogether, but for the most part, I’m just grateful to know that I’ve made it this far.

But really, recovery – and to some extent, happiness in general – means that no matter what, I can see myself through a turbulent ride inside my own head and not let my bad days define me.

If there’s anything I hope to accomplish with sharing my story, even if I have to reiterate it sometimes – I want anyone who is reading to know that you’re never as strange or neurotic or unlovable as you might feel when you’re struggling. What-ifs can be sneaky, but they’re almost always false, and more people live with inexplicable existential dread or self-doubt than you’d think.

I try to be as shameless as possible, because I used to be so embarrassed at the thought of my own existence, and I know how painful that can be. If people I haven’t seen in years and a bunch of people I went to elementary school with know about my anxiety and debilitating stomachaches, those things don’t have the same power as they would if I felt that nobody I know could ever be aware of them.

You might be alone inside your own head at the end of the day, and that’s not easy to come to terms with, but there’s so much power in being able to connect with others who see you in an entirely different light than you see yourself. I’ve said it before, but if you’re ever feeling like junk and need someone to talk to/commiserate with/shower you with empathy, you are always welcome to reach out, even if we don’t know each other well. There are always going to be rough days, but we don’t have to give them meaning.

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