This is what happiness feels like.


I keep waiting for the bottom to drop out from underneath me. I keep waiting for the darkness to return. I’m afraid to trust the beautiful. I’m afraid that if I pinch myself I might wake up and discover it was only a dream. This lovely. This holy. This happy—truly happy—life I’m living now.

Frozen shoulder aside, I never knew it was possible to be this happy. Grad school has rocketed me into a new, enchanted world. Books. Reading. Discussions. Writing. New friends! HEAVEN.

I am SO thankful mental illness didn’t win. I’m so HAPPY to be alive!

It’s hard for me to believe that just one year ago I was swamped in pain. Mental illness had taken over so much of my life. I was in bed for weeks, hardly able to move. It took so much work to crawl out of that dark hole. It seemed like the darkness would never end. I didn’t want to live anymore.

One afternoon I texted my parents goodbye. I told them how much I loved them and that I was sorry but I just couldn’t go on living like this. They came to me immediately. They got in their car and drove to me. They sat by my bed and my mother held my hand and I saw sadness and fear in her eyes. She told me not to give up. She told me things would get better.

My friends came to me. They showed up with meals. They texted me. They loved me through the bleakest, darkest few months of my life. They didn’t let me go. They checked on me over and over again. It was humbling and horrible. But they saved my life.

My husband took me to doctor after doctor until we found a psychiatrist who sat with me for hours and took a full, long history of my mental illness. It took some experimenting, but we finally found the right dosage of medication that worked for me.

It took several months, but the light started dawning in my mind. The darkness lifted. The depression eased. The bipolar symptoms lessened and faded.

In the midst of all this, I decided to apply to grad school. It was a shot in the dark. I didn’t think I’d get in. But I had a dream—a literal dream—where I saw myself thriving in grad school. In the dream I remembered the joy I felt in school. I remembered feeling transported by books and learning and discussion. When I woke the next morning, I knew I had to apply for school.

This past April I was accepted.

Classes began three weeks ago.

And I feel as if I’ve burst into a completely different world. Everything is sunshine. Everything is hope. I feel alive again. My mind is awakening. I feel truly and deeply happy. I love school so much. I love reading and writing and studying. I love meeting new people. I love thinking new thoughts and having new ideas.

I’d forgotten what happiness felt like.

I’d forgotten what fulfillment felt like.

I can’t believe I get to do this thing! Is this me? Is this really my life now? It is SUCH a gift!

For the first time in YEARS, I’m EXCITED about my life. I’m excited to see what’s next.

And I’m so very grateful for the people who didn’t give up on me even when I was at the very bottom. They believed—they KNEW—things could and would get better for me. Even when I couldn’t believe that myself.

Last year at this time I was spending most of my days in bed. I could barely move. And now, by some miracle of grace and medicine, I am loving and living my life.

This is what happiness feels like.

This is me not giving up.

And I’m writing this for you, too. Maybe right now you’re where I was a year ago. Maybe the darkness feels overwhelming to you. Maybe you think everyone would be better off without you here. I’m here to tell you: that’s your sad, sick brain lying to you. You are so needed! I know—god, how I know—how hard it is to hang on for one more day. To feel that there is nothing left in life worth living for. But I promise you. I PROMISE YOU. Life is worth living. And YOU deserve to live it. It can and WILL get better. Just don’t give up. Keep fighting. You never know what happiness tomorrow may bring. You are loved, loving and lovable.

The light is coming.

Elizabeth Esther4 Comments