I feel so bad I got a worried mind...
Recently, Newsweek said "Happiness...Enough Already!" and it gave me pause. I remembered when I started going to a psychiatrist and a therapist (two separate people) who both asked me how often I cried. Once a week, was my answer, though sometimes it was more than that. They both looked at me, chagrined and replied with something along the lines of, "Well, let's see if we can't reduce that number." In their defense, I was crying at the time they asked me that, and, if Ricky taught us anything, it's that excessive crying is obnoxious.
But, I wondered, how healthy is it to never cry? I didn't want to cry at work. I hated crying because I was angry or frustrated, especially when crying is often seen as a sign of weakness. I wanted to be strong and not let the bastards get me down. So I went along with their advice. I took the medicine, I applied the coping tools and I went a good year without shedding so much as a tear.
But it always bothered me that I had removed all crying from my life. Surely, it was appropriate to cry at, say, a funeral or a sentimental movie. I missed expressing myself that way. But I also was glad to be able to function at a soul-killing job and not flinch when cruelty was flung at my head.
Savin' nickels, savin' dimes...
Through the help of my family and my therapist, I was able to extract myself from that job and settle in a place with a network of support and at a job where people were like-minded and respectful. As a result of this move, I also had to go four months without healthcare. As my perscriptions ran out, I began to ween myself off the anti-depressants and only take the "nerve pills" when absolutely necessary, approximately once a month.
It went OK, it seemed. By steering clear of anxiety mine fields, I was able to keep the tears and stress out of my life. But in the past month or so, tears have made their re-entrance into my life. Once, they came from frustration. Once, I got a little misty watching a movie. But I over came it. I've had healthcare for the last month and I've been meaning to go back to the shrink and resume what I figured would be a lifetime perscription.
Working till the sun don't shine...
But I'm so busy! How can I book any more appointments? I could if I really want to. And really, I'm not depressed. I've got a healthy family, I've got a good job, I work with great people, my friends are buoys, and I'm enjoying making progress while staying put. So what if I cry every now and then?
I spent some time with my cousin Rachel yesterday. She and I are 9 months apart and have always considered ourselves sisters. We drove to Columbus and back to see her brother Aaron's new baby boy. Round trip, we spent about 5 hours together in the car and it's really the first time since moving back home that I've spent that much time with her. We shared stories and frustrations. We learned that we are both pretty much in the same boat. I felt so good reweaving my family ties with her.
At one point, on the way home, she said to me, "It sounds like your depression is situational. You don't need to go back on medication." She's right of course, but it helps very much to have my own instincts confirmed.
Go to see my baby again
And to be with some of my friends
Maybe I'd be happy then on blue bayou...
Techinically, according to the Newsweek article, "The highest levels of happiness go along with the most stable, longest and most contented relationships." If I wasn't a hundred percent sure of this before, I am now. Reconnecting with my family, building new friendships, making an effort to maintain the old ones, and making my marriage work, makes being happy on Blue Bayou possible.
So, when the impulse to cry threatens to overcome me, I will pause my hand from reaching for the medicine cabinet and consider the circumstances. Am I frustrated or angry? Am I just sad? Did I put on the waterproof mascara? Do I have time to recover and not doom my eyes to red swolleness? Can I employ some anti-crying tactics or should I just let the tears roll? Do I turn to my inner Spock and remain calm? Or do I let the Kirk in me fly? Who knows. But either way, good or bad, sad or happy, my emotions are what they are and I'm perfectly willing to let my heart and head work together from now on.