"What doesn't kill you, will make you stronger," is good advice that one probably hears often, but lately I have found that strength can be found in happiness too.
You see, for most of my life, I have believed that I wasn't meant to live a life with long-lasting moments of happiness-just brief enough glimpses of happiness-or mania!-to keep me away from suicide. Unless you consider an eating disorder a slow form of suicide, which I do. I have heard that C.S. Lewis did not believe that people were meant to have the goal of pursing a happy life and that God did not really care if we were happy or not. There are bigger, more important things to care about and for the most part I believed that.
It was tough at first, adjusting to a life away from college, but back with my parents. I considered my life a failure. It was once again confirmed in my mind that I was just not meant to be happy.
But you know what? I soon rediscovered happiness! Joining groups like NAMI and the writers group at Charis and being able to play for my church again gave my life new meaning. I also now had time to work on my writing and cooking and this gave me a great sense of satisfaction. I always dreamed of having a glamorous job and I think this period was instrumental in my realization that I am more than a job and more than having the "right" amount of education. I am a person first, before anything else. A person, in fact, who is very creative and thinks critically, who wants to be an advocate and likes learning about different people. I've overcome mental illness and will continue to do so and surely that is something to be proud of!
But get this, for most of my life, I could not count on happiness-I have a mood disorder and if I was happy one minute, it did not mean that I would be happy the next. But I have seemed to have-finally!-found the right combination of medications for me and my life is wonderfully low on stress, which is my biggest trigger, by the way, and so happiness is becoming more regular. It's different, it's wonderful, and it's shown me that life can change. Now I know, of course, that something will happen that will cause this reign of happiness to end, but my hope is that when that happens, that I will be able to recover more quickly than in the past. NAMI has provided me with a wonderful support group and I feel more comfortable knowing that I finally have a big support system.
So to a person with an eating disorder and schizoaffective disorder, who has had very little stability in her life, knowing that long-term happiness is possible is wonderfully strengthening and empowering. Life CAN get better. It happens when you finally decide to follow your life's path, instead of following assumptions about your life's path. When you say, "These are my limitations and I need to respect and honor them, instead of thinking that I must always fight. Maybe happiness IS possible!"
I, personally, don't think that God wants us to be happy all the time and to not address societal problems, but I do think that God wants what's best for us and sometimes that does include being happy and content. I have a lot of experience with dealing with pain, so I thank God that I have been fortunate to finally experience happiness!
Because of this happiness, I have been willing to try cooking more "bad" foods! First, it was bacon and now sausage. Admittedly, it was turkey sausage, but still a great accomplishment with the result that I discovered that I really like sausage! I don't think I'll ever like sausage patties, but sausage links are really wonderful! Good taste and texture! I cooked it for the first time ever about a week ago. I made a pretty simple pasta dish-it was ziti, parmesine cheese, broccoli, tomato sauce, and sausage cooked in Worcester sauce and parmesine cheese. Yum!