The Absence of Sad

I inadvertently discovered what happiness is not this week. I’m working on a Happiness Project of my own (although slowly and badly– haven’t quite found my groove yet), so happiness has been on my mind.

And for the past few weeks or a month or so, I was thinking I must be pretty happy because I’m not sad. I mean, there’s been no depression or fits of weeping or hiding under the covers all day. Those things are indicators of sad. I just felt sort of… nothing. Not bad. Just nothing.

Then last week I finally went to go get my thyroid checked again because it’s been forever since I’ve done it (bad me, totally my fault) and I just thought I should brave the doctor’s office phone tree and get it done. It was waaaaay out of whack. I was surprised. Because usually way-out-of-whack thyroid equals horrible depression-like funk among other unpleasantness, and I was feeling neither depressed-ish nor particularly unpleasant.

So my doctor updated my dose. (When you have a sluggish thyroid, you take pills to replace the hormone it fails to make.) And I started taking it.

And, for a couple of days after I started the new dose, I felt like sheer, utter crap. I was sad, I was angry, I actually did consider hiding under the covers all day. I did almost no work. I sat on the couch in my living room, alone and silent, glaring at the wall. (Good thing no one was around because it was creepy.)

This morning, I woke up because the sun was beaming in my half moon window and burning my ear. It was delightful. I felt good and light. I got up and did stuff, and shot and edited a video, and read a bunch of stuff and ate the food on this stupid 3-day diet I’m testing without being too grumpy about it, and I went to the store and bought myself a Captain America t-shirt, and it made me really, stupidly happy.

So I think happy is less about the absence of sad and more about something other than nothing. I wasn’t unhappy when I felt nothing, but I wasn’t happy either. I stopped singing and buying stupid t-shirts and taking deep breaths of lovely air, because none of it made me happy. So, as much as the sad stuff sucks, I guess I’ll take it if it means I can get some simple joy out of caraoke and a sunny day.

(P.S. I know some of you suffer from actual, non-thyroid-related depression and it sucks, and I’m so sorry. I wish everyone could just jack up their pill dose and feel better like I can. I am super lucky and grateful. I don’t know if it will help, But Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half put up a comic this morning about the sort of “nothingness” part of depression that made a lot of sense to me, and I hope it’ll make sense to you, too.)

  • Skye Hughes

    I suffer from depression and anxiety and I totally know the “nothingness” part. I’m glad you got your meds fixed and they brought you back to happy (and sad — you are right, we need to be able to feel both in order to feel either). I’m also glad Allie is writing again and coming back to us. It takes a lot of time, effort, and resources. My friend wants nanobots that will simply go through our bodies and fix all the chemical imbalances of all kinds so we don’t have to take these freakin’ drugs and get freakin’ side effects! 🙂 As paranoid as I am about such things, I think I would volunteer for that.