Happiness or Mania?
This is the question I wrestled with over the past week. My Fitbit was showing disturbed and fair sleep. My heart rate was elevated – even at night. And at times, I felt intense elation. But, unlike in the past, I did not have disturbing mental imagery, no internal scenarios to solve, and I felt happy – with some discomfort for being overstimulated.
Eventually, I came to the conclusion that it is not a question of whether or not I am just happy or just manic, but rather, both can be true at the same time!
I can honestly say that mania for me has changed in some way every time I have experienced it. At times, it has been incredibly destructive. I would say that was true when I was not on medication or the medication that I was taking was not effective.
The latest episode seemed much milder while more intense than hypomania. I was able to remain productive, and I was able to do my job. As much as I have complained about the side effects of Zyprexa (olanzapine), it has really changed my life for the better. And for that I am grateful.
Stability Yields Success
Without medication, I would not have to diet or exercise to be thin. Without medication, I could write vibrant poetry. Without medication, I could totally fuck up my life.
In my situation, taking an effective medication is helping me to achieve stability. And when I feel stable, I feel optimistic and goal oriented. Naturally, I am a very driven person, but when I am symptomatic, that drive gets lost in the wilderness of my madness.
The Conditions of My Happiness
When I was younger, I thought that I could only be truly happy if I finished my degrees and became a university professor. I thought I would graduate, get a university position, and buy a nice house for my children. I thought my marriage would be stable and happy because we both would be very fulfilled people individually.
None of that worked out for me, my children, or my marriage!
Consequently, I wallowed in entitlement and self-pity for a very long time. My ambitious drive dried up. Even my children noticed the change. A large part of that was due to taking ineffective medications. I was avoiding taking Zyprexa (olanzapine) long-term because of the weight gain. I gained weight on other medications, but with Zyprexa (olanzapine) my eating felt out-of-control. So, my vanity was an issue as well.
The price of entitlement, self-pity, and vanity was steep. I have deep regrets. While medication did not induce happiness, and I want to be clear about that, it did help set the environment for me to discover happiness in a different way than I had previously approached it.
What Happiness Looks Like for Me Now
I did not wake up one day and declare that I felt happy. However, I did intentionally seek happiness indirectly through practicing gratitude.
Even though I do not live in a nice home, I am grateful for where we live. I listed the benefits of living in this apartment complex, and I realized that it is a good location, and my girls enjoy the landscaping; we even have squirrels and bunnies.
With the girls’ help, I think we have created a very happy home, and I feel so blessed to have the girls and this time with them before they leave and start their adventures in life.
I am never going to be a university professor. Now that my daughters are 21 and 17 years of age, I am looking toward my future when they will leave home. I know that if I do not have some kind of responsibility, I will sink into depression, and I might not make it to my life’s natural end. So, developing a career is important to me right now.
Currently, I work as a mental health peer. This job has really changed my life and my perspective. Even though it is really hard on me some days, I feel satisfied and successful. Feeling satisfied and successful helps me to also feel happy.
When I was younger, I thought I would be happy if I had a nice home and a nice car. But I have found that I am happy with what I have right now. I feel grateful for my apartment. And my car is not the fanciest, but it gets me places, and I am grateful for that after not having a car for several years.
While I enjoy upgrading technology and other possessions, I am still happy with what I have, and I am grateful that I do have possessions to entertain and comfort us.
Happiness is Practice
I think happiness is a practice that I have been cultivating through embracing gratitude. When I feel grounded and content, I have moments of bliss. Bliss, for me, is not an ecstasy. It is just a joy and happiness to be alive in that moment.
Today, I am going to study for my senior fitness course. Then, I will work my shift until this afternoon. I think the mania/hypomania is behind me now because I increased my Zyprexa (olanzapine) dosage (physician approval) from 5 mg to 10 mg for a few days, and I think it worked to get things settled. Last night, I actually rested well, and I think it was rehabilitative and restorative sleep. I feel much more grounded!
I bought a Kindle book to read during downtime between calls at work; it is a Kindle Paperwhite. I love reading on Kindles because they are easy on the eyes, and I read more quickly on them. The book is called Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. I am not an Amazon affiliate, I just wanted to link to the book if you are interested.
Well, it is time to make some coffee and start my day! Thanks for reading 🙂
I chose a dreamcatcher for the photo because I dreamt of my late friend, Paul Rilling, last night. It was a difficult dream, but I miss him. He would send me The Economist & The New Yorker subscriptions to read. I miss having a friend like him in my life. I loved him dearly.