Happy, happy, happy, happy. Joy, joy, joy… I don’t often think about my feelings. In fact, I ignore my feelings. It is something I have done since I can remember and did it for no other reason than to help preserve myself. Over the years, I have become an expert at ignoring my feelings and simply storing them in the abyss of my subconsciousness to be forgotten forever. Not only are true emotions hidden from the rest of the world, they are slowly becoming hidden from my true self as well.
When I was in college, it was fashionable to see a therapist. Those were the times before Obamacare, and as a foreign student, buying insurance was mandatory when attending college so I figured I might as well utilize my payments and go to a shrink. My therapist was named after a season and till this day I am still not sure if that was her first or last name. Her office was located at the first floor of one of the dorms at the university, which was very odd, as when I waited for my appointment I had to stand in front of the main entrance like I was waiting for my date to come down or something… Anyway, I was very upfront with her elucidating I did not know how this thing works, and frankly I expected she would have one of those comfy sofas where I could lay down and contemplate on life, instead I had to be content with an arm chair which in retrospect was pretty comfy. I was having the banal relationship issues and surprise, surprise, I was not happy. We had several sessions where I was able to open up more. She made me come up with a list of things that make me happy. It was one of the hardest lists I had to come up with, but I did it — it was basically a list of my favorite sports, art and music. Nothing special, but it was a great tool for me to learn, a tool I would use today when I try to remind myself that only I can make myself happy, a tool to help keep me in check, a reminder of all the things that bring me joy.
No One Really Cares
After graduating college, I struggled to find a job. To my surprise, employers were not fighting each other for me, in fact they were not impressed by my bachelor’s degree or the element I held full time jobs all the way through school. That made me feel worthless. I had just separated with my first husband and the person I was dating had no sense of emotional intelligence. In short, I was blaming everyone else for my misfortunes yet refused to look in the mirror. I could not see my reflection, I could not see my future, and worse — I had nothing to look forward to. That’s when I had my existential crisis and was put in Looneyville for several days. When I got out, one of my friends told me the next time I decided to go through existential crisis to call her, as for the same price we could have gone on a nice vacation. (noted!) While I was in the mental health facility, I had a profound realization where all the people who were admitted there were in the same position as I was because of their self-inflicted pain and unwillingness to live. I had that wake-up call where it was clear to me, I had decided to be depressed, I had decided to be a victim and I was the one who gave up on life. No one cared whether I would live or die, even if they say otherwise, people truly only care about themselves. It is no one’s fault that I feel crappy, and it is also no one’s obligation to make me happy either. So, that was the time in my life where I decided to fake it till, I make it.
Fake It Till I Make It
When I was finally released from the hospital, and all the people who were informed of my shameful experience treated me like some fragile freak, I vowed to my self to go back to normal. My normal has always been fake, and when I tried to live as my true self, I made it abundantly clear it is impossible for me to do that.
When I was a child, I would always appear to be happy to my parents or my grandmothers, as I did not want to be a burden to them, or an inconvenience. I did not want them to worry about me. But even then, I don’t think I was truly happy as I was intelligent enough to see all the suffering around me.
When I was a teenager in a strange country, all by myself, I had to pretend to be a very nice and pleasant person who is always happy and never a party-pooper, as no one likes that and being a faker sounded better than being alone. So, until this day, I wake up every morning with the decision to be happy, to appear happy and wear that mask. This strategy works for me, it always has. I have developed this fake routine where no one in the world, not even people closest to me would have a clue what my true feelings are. I am completely in control of the way I project myself to others and how much I allow them to penetrate in to my world and witness my emotions.
I am a fraud
Several years ago, I had a session with this psychic. It all began fine and dandy where she was able to connect with my grandmother and was able to see my ambitions and my past. To my surprise and agony, she was a very good psychic, also one who does not hold back.
She portrayed my life as a burning house where everything is chaotic and the fire is creeping towards me, but I would just stand there and ignore it, pretending nothing is going on. When she outed me, I felt that enormous sense of relief, I felt like finally someone saw my truth, so I laughed. The psychic was appalled by my reaction, as most normal people would not be laughing in that situation. But I was. That was the moment I also started wondering if I was insane, but on that topic — some other time.
She suggested I dig back in my childhood and fix it. Yes, easier said than done. My feelings are like the house of a hoarder — I keep collecting them in to this tangled mess with small paths throughout where only I can go through and cleaning that house would take too much work, so I am better off bulldozing over it instead.
Luxury of Depression
My years of experience in customer service have taught me to look and sound like a Christmas elf bringing joy to the world, ignoring harassment with finesse and moving on as if nothing happened. To me depression is like witnessing a ghost but mentioning it will only confirm its existence, so I would simply lay in bed all day unable to move, paralyzed by the ghost of depression.
Coping with depression is a work of art not many can afford. Some of us have to get up and go to work or get up and look presentable in front of our kids and family. In my opinion, depression is a first world problem where only the rich can afford to acknowledge it as most other mortals do not have the time to stop and think about their feelings. Depression is a luxury where we are so overly stimulated and overly satisfied with life, that it becomes boring. So maybe, just maybe my idea of coping by ignorance, by going through the motions of routine, by not acknowledging unhappiness and pretending that it is not there is the path towards success, the ultimate bliss.