Chucking the happy pills


People sometimes ask me what HouseGoesHome was like in its early days: patchy quality; frequently bleak; poorly illustrated.

I remember my mother-in-law nervously suggesting to my ex-husband that it was “a little dark.”

Looking back, I ache for the woman who wrote those posts in that primordial blog swamp. She was a mess.

For example, three years ago I wrote Al’s On-Line Therapy Service, it went like this:

Are you happy? Are you unhappy? Are you sure? How can you tell? I think there should be a pill that people take – just once, mid-life – that shows what true happiness feels like. I don’t mean blurry alcohol or drug induced euphoria, with its subsequent hangover and regrets. (I’m giving that one a whirl at a school mums’ dinner tonight.) I’m talking garden-variety, no-frills happiness. It would give people perspective. I reckon most people have forgotten how to recognise happiness/unhappiness. Popping a garden-variety happy pill would give clarity. Depressed people would understand they needed counselling/medication. Non-depressed people would recognise that their life is pretty damn good, all things considered. A few months ago, I described my emotional state to a friend as “approaching contentment, with occasional flashes of joy”. I thought that was as good as it got. Leaving work had set me adrift, it was a release but an unsettling one. As the weeks passed, I began to understand how deeply unhappy I was/had been, but I didn’t know how to fix it. How do you “get happy”? I tried counselling, cried a lot. I popped St John’s Wort, didn’t notice any difference. Time was the biggest healer. I finally started to relax. Well, as much as I’ll ever relax. I began to enjoy people again, instead of avoiding them. Am I happy now? Well, I’m happier than I was. That’s progress.

See what I mean?

I’ve been trying to explain to DD how different I am now. It sounds like the lady doth protest too much, methinks … but friends will testify to the change.

It’s scary to look back through that on-line diary and see how screwed up I’d become.

One of the biggest turning points came late last year. I realised I couldn’t be an “onion” any more – only exposing my outer layers, never letting people into the core. It was around the time Husband and I scored a marriage counsellor named Neville.

Getting caught in a crumbling marriage interfered with the process a little. OK, a lot. But, soon after Husband moved out, I took a deep breath and decided it was time to be myself around others.

And if they didn’t like “me” no biggie.

I haven’t lost anyone along the way and I’ve gained so much.

Sure, I still have my ups and downs, but that’s life.

I know that “approaching contentment with occasional flashes of joy” ISN’T as good as it gets. Not by a looooong shot.


Hindsight tip: If you need to pop a pill to know if you’re happy … you’re not.

Song of the day:  Pink “Just like a pill”

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