Happiness, Nutella and Bullshit
I should give my primary partner (my thesis) most of my attention, but I just can’t. So you get this post.
Today I stumbled upon a picture that I disagreed with. The main thing that bothered me was the fact that it demonstrates the social point of view about happiness, and this point of view causes lots of damage to people who feel and experience different things. It was featured in a Facebook group for autistics, with the caption “just saying…”
The drawing features two peanut shaped creatures with lines for lags and feet. One of them (with the face to the viewer) holds a jar that is labeled with the word “HAPPINESS” in caps and smiles. The other one is standing with their side to the viewer, and look sad.
The sad peanut person asks the one with the jar: “Where did you find that? I’ve been searching for it everywhere.”
The peanut person with the jar and the smile answers: “I created it myself”.
My first reaction was the visualization of my mind of all the times I tried my best to become happy;
(or: start of flashback)
Since 2010 and even before(2008), I have had an undiagnosed depression. Nobody, including me, suspected that because it looks differently in autistics, and because, well, I learned that depression is a thing only if you can’t function. If you can, you have dysthymia. I thought that no doctor will do anything, because I was working on my first degree in the university.
But even though I was a good student in the nursing school (before I was kicked out) and I learned a lot about depression too, this point of view was heavily skewed by “what should be normal”. I thought that what I learned was right. Especially since I have alexithymia, which means that it is very hard for me to know what I feel. I also lived with an abusive family, and when I looked sad or drew sad drawings that were found I was told that I should be happy. After all, I have a roof above my head, food, a loving partner and loving family. The fact that I had lots of anxiety that I wasn’t aware of, gender dysphoria that I only started to understand, and, well, an abusive grandmother, was something I felt was irrelevant.
Some of my former friends also talked the same talk, but not to me. They talked in the same manner of the poster of the picture, that you just have to make your happiness, and work hard for it.
The thing was, I couldn’t. Nothing was interesting. Oh, I had some “autistic” special interests, which pushed me to open my blog in Hebrew, but I just couldn’t find the passion and Owah I found during my nursing school years and my high-school, and the years before. Nothing made me feel that sacred feeling of learning something new and exiting. Nothing was REALLY interesting anymore. One of the people I hope not to talk to ever again in my life said that not being interested in things is a normal part of adulthood.
I tried my best.
But as the time passed, I drew less and less, my concretion and ability to do things till the deadline were disappearing, and I tried harder and harder to be happy. I failed. I stopped uploading things to my deviantART profile after October 7, 2013. Some time after that I tried the #100HappyDays project. I don’t remember much of trying to be happy apart of working hard to become more interested in things. I didn’t knew I wasn’t happy (alexithymia), but I knew I lacked motivation and interest.
One of my former FB friends did the 100 happy days challenge, and because she was always so happy and motivated, and said that not being like that is a choice and because lots of people talked about the way people make themselves victims, I decided to give the project a try.
The challenge consists of taking a picture everyday of something that made you happy. Because I was worried about the fact that I stopped drawing, and because my happy and motivated former friend did so, I decided to draw instead of taking photos. My 100 happy days challenge (I finished it and made 100 sketches, some of them crappy as hell) did not help me. I felt like a fake. At the end of each day I searched very hard for the thing that made me happy that day. It wasn’t easy at all. I did like to draw, but at the end, pushing myself to do it was hard as well. So for me, the 100 happy days challenge was bullshit.
I tried my best to become happy, I even drew everyday, even during the fucking war and my crappy office soldering as a desk nurse (which means, the army was happy that I had the knowledge but not the diploma and used me for some statistics and medical paper work), when the things I heard, seen and wrote everyday were really horrible, and I was lonely and very gender dysphoric because of the uniform. I tried my best to be happy. Even then I cut all connections with a person I loved very dearly because of the shit and drama about polyamory and his marriage. I bought myself my dream dress and tried to be happy. I drew and drew, and tried to do my best.
I was miserable.
(or: end of flashback)
After visualizing all the things and feelings about the bullish of creating happiness, I was somewhat angry. I wanted to write that this viewpoint is bullish. That sometimes you can’t create happiness. I wanted to write that I started to find happiness only after the university psychiatrist (who saved my life*) diagnosed me with depression and gave me pills, and I was able to find interest in things again. Only after some extensive work with my psychologist (who specialized and worked with autistics*) I started to feel like I am allowed to be happy. The pills changed my life. The therapy helped me find happiness. The fact that I no longer lived with my abusive family, adopted rats with my nesting partner, could eat in the amounts I wanted and begun to accept myself as autistic helped as well.
And at that moment I vaguely remembered a meme about Nutella and happiness being the same thing. And several days before I made (with some help from my nesting partner) some homemade vegan Nutella (Link to the recipe) and took a selfie with it.
So I answered with the picture of the selfie, and wrote “I made some Nutella. Close enough?” and after that I added “plus, I have depression. Trying to create happiness before the medication, or even interest, was futile. It was just pretending to be happy and being angry on myself for failing to be happy.”
I think that I was able to prove my point in a positive way, without getting into fight. I am quite pleased with myself for that.
I think most people don’t get the fact that being happy can be really hard, especially if you have dysthymia or depression (or any other mood disorder). Sometimes you can’t make the choice to be happy, even if you try your hardest. It is not easy getting out of depression by yourself, especially after living many years with your bodily autonomy taken from you in a form of a daily forced feeding, years of bulling in school and physical and verbal abused at home, being kicked out of an academic institute for being “weird”, gender dysphoria and not understanding why your experience of the world is so different from what you are expected to have, because you were undiagnosed till age 25.5. Sometimes, life is shitty, and you need help with the thing that is called happiness.
In the image above you can see me, a genderqueer individual (the photo features my face, shoulders and right hand) holding a jar with dark content (the vegan Nutella I made) and smiling with my teeth showing. My messy and frizzy hair is in two low buns and I wear a red hoodie. My skin is the sort of tan you get from living a lifetime in the middle eastern sun with the and my face has Jewish-Slavic complexion. My eyes are bright, my hair is dark. My eyebrows are very defined and I have some zits on my face. Behind me you can see a very lighted ceiling and dark window. The photo is quite low quality and looks very unprofessional.
*If you want the names and phone numbers of my therapists, ask me and I will provide them. They are really good and I was lucky for becoming their patient.
Originally published at queerloli.wordpress.com (my other blog)on February 16, 2016.