Dear Perpetually Sad Ash – Joy Is Yours to Have
* Written by Ashleigh Vaughn for YettiSays 8th Annual Self-Love Month | “Shedding Layers” Post Series
Yesterday was a good day. The day before that was a great one. And the one before that? Fucking fabulous. Aside from struggling to get our child to eat food and go to bed before midnight, life feels wonderful right now. I can’t remember the last time I felt sad and that feels.. weird..? You know all about our sad days. They far outnumber the good ones so much so that you dare not even try to determine by how much. You wake up miserable, go throughout your day miserable, and you go to bed even more miserable knowing that tomorrow will likely be the same. That’s your normal. So I think you’d understand why it doesn’t seem real that I can’t recall when our last crying fit in the closet happened. Or the last time I thought about taking our final breath. Which you know were both weekly, sometimes daily, occurrences.
Our meds are working exactly how they were designed to and I somehow have yet to accept it. It’s not that I WANT us to be depressed and sad forever. Nor does it mean that I am not grateful for the fact that it no longer feels like a chore to exist. It’s just that this has been what we’ve known our whole life. Continuous cycles of depression and occasionally mania left us in a perpetual state of sadness, agitation, and mental chaos. So much so that we had no choice but to accept this as our reality in order to get by. For years we had to figure out how to cope and manage an unknown illness. We moved away. We went to school. We got good-paying jobs. We stayed involved. We gave back. We traveled. We lost weight. We changed our diet. We dated. We lived. But none of it brought us to that end goal we so desperately wanted.
Until now. Here we are. At the place you worked so hard to get us to and it feels too surreal to enjoy. Joy doesn’t feel like it belongs to me, to us, like it’s actually something we’re allowed to have. Though amazing would be the most accurate way to describe how I’m feeling currently, it’s accompanied by a medium-sized bag of anxiety. There’s a big awkward elephant in the back room of my mind saying ‘better bask in how good you feel now because you don’t know which day this week you’re going to wake up and be unable to get out of bed.”
So I guess this letter is actually more for me than it is for you. You’re fighting so hard because you know this space of joy and balance we’re in now is within reach. You keep going keeping fueled by a morsel of hope that your mental suffering won’t be forever. So it’s my turn to take over the fight and to hold onto the joy we deserve to have. And should I ever find us in that state of perpetual sadness again, I’ll lean on your strength and resilience.. and likely more meds.. to get me back here again.
Ashleigh Vaughn, Writer, Ashleighvaughn.com