By Kee Smith
Ironically, or maybe not, if you don’t believe in coincidences, it’s Mental Health Awareness month, so what better time than now for this. I’ve always been pretty in tune with myself made it a point to acknowledge my feelings and emotions, even if I’m doing so internally. Yet and still, I found myself diagnosed with anxiety and major depressive disorder somewhere in the middle of quarantine. (If you live in Atlanta, quarantine was this period of time where outside was closed and we couldn’t leave the house unless it were necessary).
Truth be told, I wasn’t sure how or why my anxiety and depression had worsened; I just knew that it was unbearable. Debilitating, even. I’m already pretty petite, but I was eating enough not to wither away completely, and I was a zombie mom. That means I’d wake up to get my daughter ready for school, bring her there on time, sleep until it was time to pick her up, and then go through the motions of mom’ing until it was her bedtime so that I could sleep again as if I hadn’t just slept for the entire day. Funny enough, that sent me even deeper into my hole because I felt terrible that I wasn’t showing up for her the way she deserved. I mean, I was barely showing up for myself at that point, so what did I expect?
It took a lot of work, both internal and external, to find my way out of the dark. Therapy, prayer, nature, journaling, and just good old-fashioned silence were a few of the things I took advantage of. It wasn’t one of those things where I could simply change my mindset to feel better. Believe me, if I could have, I most certainly would have. I believe it’s incredibly insensitive to tell someone suffering from anxiety and depression that it’s all in their head because it wouldn’t be an issue if it were that simple. For some of us, it wreaks havoc through our mind, body, and spirit from the inside out, leaving us with what feels like no escape. So, perhaps instead, you can offer support by asking if the person would like a listening ear or supportive shoulder to cry on. Perhaps you can ask if there’s any part of their load they’d be comfortable with you carrying with or for them. You can even sit there in silence with them because, believe it or not, silently sharing your positive, judge-free energy can actually create a shift you can’t see, but they most certainly feel.
Today, I’m happy. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. The issue is that major depressive disorder is fighting very hard to take that happiness away from me. It’s taken me a long time to understand and accept happiness truly, and here I am, happy and shit. This is the space where I’ve learned that self-sabotage is a part of depression because in finally accepting happiness, I’ve realized that it’s an uncomfortable space for me. Crazy, right? I’m not used to it because I’ve always chased it. It’s always been a destination rather than a journey. I’m learning now that the joy in happiness is in being present. That’s it. If that means I buy a pair of heels and find pure bliss in the five seconds it took to double click to pay with Apple Pay; then I was happy for five seconds of my day. If it means I find bliss in doing nothing but watching Hulu for three hours, then I was happy for three hours out of my day. Sometimes, happiness means being unavailable to everyone and everything except my daughter. For me, my point is that happiness is a passing moment, but I’m willing to pull up and enjoy it each time it passes by.
The other day, someone shared something powerful with me about the difference between peace and happiness. What I took from it was that happiness is external while peace is internal. Happiness is an emotion, feeling, or action that can be changed based on an event or series of events, while peace is unwavering. Peace is internal. External factors do not move peace. Now that I know what pure happiness feels like, I will enjoy each of those moments while I learn to obtain and maintain peace.
Perhaps this should have been a diary entry, but I thought that maybe if I shared it with you, you wouldn’t feel alone. I hope you don’t feel alone. You’re doing great. Even if just for a moment, enjoy it.
Kee Smith is a contributing writer and is a homie, lover and friend and always “write” on time. Be sure to connect on IG @_ _ _lowkee