Tag Archives: Joy

Joyous: The Last Time I Felt Genuinely Joyful #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day 10 in the A to Z of random reflections. Today, I picked yet another prompt from the 397 jorurnal writing prompts and ideas. It is “joyous” and asks about the last time you felt joy.

Now I for one aim to find joy in little everyday things. However, for a long time, I have been distinctly remembering th elast time I felt genuinely happy. This was in November. Let me share.

We had a “day out” at day activities. We weren’t actually going anywhere, but the money the staff used to organize this special day for us was originally intended to take us on a trip. Since many of my fellow clients are severely intellectually disabled, they wouldn’t benefit more from an actual day out than they would from a special celebratory day at the center, or so the staff reasoned.

In the morning, two female clowns were visiting the center. They visited each group separately, so we didn’t have to all come together. It was a lot of fun. First, one clown called out a fellow client’s name. I chimed in, calling her name in my typical echolalia voice. This got the clown to think I had this client’s name as well, so she came to me. I was allowed to feel her clown shoes and hat and we also danced a little.

After the clowns left, a local snack bar sent a vendor with French fries and all sorts of snacks. I attend a group for severely intellectually disabled people, so for my fellow clients and initially for me too, the staff was deciding which snack we would eat. I asked to visit the industrial group (for more capable people). As it turned out, we were allowed to get as many snacks as we wanted, so I had some fellow clients from the industrial group help me to the vendor. I didn’t binge, but I definitely ate more than would’ve been healthfully responsible. Then again, we only get this type of event once in at least a year.

What was the last time you felt genuinely happy?

Fear of Joy

Fear of joy. Some people find this hard to imagine, but it is real for some of us who’ve experienced depressive symptoms. It is real for me.

I have a really hard time experiencing joy without sabotaging it with fear. I don’t deliberately do this, but quite often I tend to feel intense anxiety when I notice I am in a good mood. Then obviously my mood goes down again.

It’s probably because of expectations. There is this man on my unit who always says he’s doing so-so or bad and never says he’s doing well. He says it is because, if he says he’s doing well, they’ll think he’s no longer mentally unwell and will expect him to leave the psychiatric unit. I can relate to this. Now I myself don’t want to be on this unit forever, like this man does. What I can relate to is the expectation that, if I’m well once, I should be able to keep the feeling and not fall unwell again. Worse yet, I fear that if I say I’m feeling well, I will be expected to cope with less support, more independence. In this sense, I can relate to the fear of being kicked off the unit if I say i’m well. Though I don’t want to stay on this unit forever, I do want to maintain a certain level of support.

Of course, everyone, whether we’re mentally ill or not, experiences highs and lows. People who aren’t mentally ill aren’t expected to keep feeling well forever if they say they’re well once. Why should people with mental illness be expected to be cured if we say we feel well once, then? The truth is, no good mental health professional or understanding relative expects this out of us.

Of course, I remember the situation a few years ago where a woman with depression was denied sick leave benefits because she “didn’t look depressed” in Facebook photos. That sort of thing may happen, and I’m sometimes afraid of this too. Like, yesterday I told my named nurse I’m afraid of not getting community support once I live with my husband. The reason is my staff aren’t coming to the tiny village to assist me with my application and the social consultant there isn’t coming to my institution. This means I’ll need to file the application all by myself. Of course, my husband will be there, but I doubt he knows what care I’ll need. Now I’m at once afraid that I’ll not be able to clarify what I need so that the consultant won’t be able to get me care, and that I sound too capable. The care needs paperwork that the Center for Consultation and Expertise created for me in 2013 lists my intellectual giftedness. I’m tempted to delete that in the process of updating it for the current application. The first reason is because I have no clue what significance a high IQ has over a normal IQ when applying for care. I mean, it means I can’t get care from the intellectual disability agencies, but I couldn’t if I had a normal IQ either. However, the other reason is I fear it will be seen as significant by the social consultant and they’ll determine that if I’m so intelligent, I should be able to solve my own problems.

This is what’s behind my fear of coming across like I’m doing well, and consequently my fear of experiencing joy. Of course, like I said, every understanding person should realize that having a good day doesn’t mean being cured of your mental illness. Then again, I’m not sure most people are all that understanding. Could be my stress-related paranoia though.

Be Joyful, Be Patient, Be Faithful

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12 NIV)

Often when I turn to the Bible, to devotionals, or to other Christian writings or even music, I find myself drawn to verses that give hope, let me know that I’m not alone if I have faith in God. I do not turn to the Bible to dictate the morals I need to live by day-to-day, because I personally believe the Bible was inspired too much by the culture of its time for this. Rather, I look to the Bible for guidance in my spirutal life and my relationship with God. This verse speaks to this relationship and to how we as humans need to invest in it.

Be joyful in hope. Often, I find myself taking up the Bible and generally investing in my relationship with God only when I’m suffering. This verse calls upon us to also share in God as we have hope, and to be thankful to God for the works He does. This does not mean we need to praise God for every ounce of food we eat. In fact, praying for food has too much of a ritualistic connotation for me, as I was required to participate in it in school as a non-religious child. Rather, we need to be appreciative in our hearts, which God knows.

Be patient in affliction. Many people often wonder when their suffering will finally pass. This verse asks us to be patient while God meets our needs eventually. Often I and many others find ourselves falling into the trap of demanding instant gratification. However, other people are not required to fulfill our every wish, and, while God may possess some kind of magic wand, He is certainly not supposed to wave it whenever we think we need Him to.

Be faithful in prayer. God knows our needs, and He cares. Remember, needs are not wants, and we need to be patient for God to meet our true needs eventually. Being faithful in prayer means trusting God to take care of us when we’re having a hard time, and also being thankful for His caring when we’re doing well.

This verse, exept for the words on prayer, actually also speaks to non-Christians. If you believe in some other deity or spiritual figure, or even if you’re an atheist, you still need to be appreciative of what you have when you’re faring well, and patient for time to pass when you’re not.