Today is the first day of the “Choosing Happiness” blog, and the point of the blog, along with most of the content of the blog, is about just that: reminding myself to choose happiness in the aftermath of the worst tragedy of my life, and along the way, maybe I can help those of you reading to choose happiness too.
In February of this year, I was struck by tragedy. I learned on my mama’s birthday, a day that should have been spent entirely with her, with both of us relishing in the joy of being together, that my father had murdered her before killing himself on the steps on my childhood home. In one day, I lost two of the most important people to me, and I lost my childhood home.
I made the decision early on to seek out counseling after their deaths. It seemed a natural choice. I had dealt with anxiety and depression in the past, even before such a traumatic incident, so I knew it was for the best. My husband and siblings encouraged this decision.
My therapist diagnosed me with PTSD, complicated grief, generalized anxiety, and depression. To say I was struggling was a complete understatement. I was utterly miserable.
And if anyone is doing the math here, you have probably come to realize that my parents’ deaths, my mother’s murder, happened about a month before COVID-19 shut down nearly all of the U.S. and the rest of the world. My anxiety only worsened, and I knew I needed more than the once-a-week counseling sessions I was going to. I sought out medication originally for anxiety, but by the end of the appointment, I was walking out of the office with prescriptions for anxiety, depression, and a medication to help my insomnia and constant nightmares.
And yet still, the counseling and the medication did not seem to be enough. I could not get myself out of bed to go to work in the mornings and wound up late every day. I could put on a fake face for the work day, and usually, at the end of the day, I could cook a simple dinner with the help of my husband. But no more. The thought of cleaning our apartment after work, of working out every day as I had been doing weeks before, of even working on writing projects, which again, I had done before, seemed exhausting. Most days, I would sit for hours on our couch, either staring at my phone or watching sitcoms on TV, or a mix of both. I had trouble convincing myself that life was worth living, both before and after the medication had a chance to get into my system.
After a disastrous first mother’s day without my mother, I knew that something had to change. I could not keep going on in the way that I had before. I had to find ways to take pleasure in the small moments, the little things, to find joy in the everyday. I had to choose happiness, even when it was hard. Especially when it was hard.
Yes, my life was in shambles, it had not turned out the way I thought it would, but still there were things to take pleasure in. I knew that I had to find a way to be joyful again, and this blog serves as a way to try and document that journey, as rocky and difficult as it may be at times.
Mama would have wanted me to be happy. I know that, and I am on this journey for her and for myself.