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.)