I’ve spoken about my anxiety and dissociation, but one thing I’ve never openly discussed are the waves of hopelessness that I occasionally experience. They tend to pop up during times of extreme stress and when I found myself in yet another episode, I began to worry a little. This time around things became a lot more difficult to deal with and I didn’t see an end in sight. In order to help ward off the thoughts that started to get a little darker than usual, I wrote out a list of things that genuinely made me smile. I needed this reminder that prior to this stressful point in time, there were things that did make me happy. I hope that by sharing this, someone will read it and maybe even feel inspired to write their own list.
Think of the last time you laughed so hard that you couldn’t breathe. Think about how your face contorted into such a large smile that you thought your face muscles would rupture. Think about how your stomach hurt so much that you felt like you’d get abs from such a work out. You’ll laugh again one day when it’s about something so stupid and random that you can’t help but cackle at the absurdity. It won’t make any sense but that doesn’t matter because within seconds you’ll be on the floor laughing, filled with so much joy that you struggle to maintain any sort of composure. Look forward to these every day. Remind yourself every day that those moments exist and will happen again.
What isn’t great about dogs? Besides maybe the fact that they do disgusting things like eat their own vomit, but besides that, they’re perfect. But the cherry on top of the sundae is when they’re just there for you no matter what. Going through a rough day? Go for a walk. Need a hug? They’re perfect for that. They love us without any sort of judgement whatsoever and they always will.
3. HOW IT FEELS AFTER A GOOD CRY.
Having a good cry can be just as tricky as trying to have a successful nap. Some are better than others and they can either rejuvenate you or leave you feeling like you’ve been betrayed by your own body. But there’s a small middle ground where a cry can actually feel refreshing. Once you’ve wiped that last teardrop from your face and your breathing has returned to normal, everything feels new. It’s like stepping outside after a rainstorm has passed and everything is calm and quiet. Having that kind of cry is like being able to watch the storm slowly drift off while breathing a sigh of relief. You’ve made it to the other side and you know you’ll be okay.
4. BLANKET BURRITOS.
There’s a great sense of accomplishment when you’ve found the perfect blanket to curl up in. It can’t be too big, too small, too fuzzy, or too rough. Preferably, it should be about twice your body size and have some kind of fuzzy texture without it being annoying or overwhelming. Wrapping yourself up in one of these bad boys and hunkering down with a good movie or television show is a great go-to self care practice.
5. CHASING THE WAVES AT THE BEACH.
Who says you have to stop doing this kind of thing when you’ve reached adulthood? Forget them. Go to the beach, make a sand castle, dig your feet in the sand, and sprint around chasing the waves as they ebb and flow. People get wrapped up in this facade of being “grown up” and “mature” that they forget to do the things they enjoyed as a kid. Some things, like this, aren’t meant to be thrown away just to adhere to the restrictions of being an “adult”.
6. MOMENTS OF “SAME!”
You know that feeling when you’ve never openly discussed an emotion or been able to put it into words? But then one day it comes up into conversation with a friend and it’s immediately met with a loud “SAME!” That. That moment is always SO rewarding. It’s like the best wave of relief knowing that someone can see eye to eye with you on something whether it’s mental health, your belief in alien life, or some crappy reality TV show. But it means even more during those times when you thought you were the “only” person to feel a certain way. It’s a little reminder that no matter what we’re feeling, there’s someone else out there who can relate.
7. RUNNING INTO A FRIEND THAT YOU ACTUALLY GET ALONG WITH.
Usually running into people is an awkward burden that most of us wish to avoid, but there’s also a chance that we might run into someone we don’t totally hate. This is a very rare occurrence, but it does happen. Maybe they’re someone you lost touch with, or you never really were that close, but this time around, it feels nice to see a familiar face. It’s like gaining a new friend without all of the work that comes from getting to know a stranger. It’s like the perfect situation where you don’t have to pretend you’re a totally sane and perfect person, you’ve already laid the ground work and now you two can hang out without awkward small talk and holding back your flaws.
8. HOW IT FEELS TO TREAT YOURSELF- WITHOUT ANYONE KNOWING.
Maybe you decided to make an extra stop on the way home today from work/school. Maybe that destination happened to be the movies, mall, or a bakery. Maybe you decided to treat yourself a little bit. And how did that feel? A-ma-zing. There’s no rule that says you have to announce treat-yo-self moments with anyone else nor are you required to tell anyone about it later on. Go ahead, pamper yourself a little bit and sit in that joy without having to tell anyone, including social media.
9. HUGS THAT LAST A LITTLE LONGER THAN EXPECTED.
Hugs come in many forms but the truly amazing ones are the ones that catch you off guard. The magic happens when they hold on for just a few seconds longer than expected and it feels like the weight has been lifted from your shoulders. For a moment you’re being held without it being awkward. It’s the right combination of comforting and support.
10. CREATIVE FLOW STATES.
Elizabeth Gilbert has a theory that ideas are autonomous beings that float around us waiting for the most available human to collaborate with. This theory introduced me to an even bigger concept called flow states. Creating something purely from your imagination is one of the best feelings in the world, hands down. It’s like reaching into the universe and seeing what you can create with what was left in the palm of your hand. It gives hope to a better understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Everything we create is covered in messages both from some other source and from something within us. It’s a wonderfully addictive state where you feel tuned in to something more than yourself. It’s a place that’s full of endless possibilities.
I think it’s worth mentioning that there really is no wrong reason not to kill yourself. And even if you aren’t standing on that particular emotional ledge, it’s also important to remind yourself of the things that make you laugh. They don’t have to be big things or the same things you see floating around social media. They don’t even have to make logical sense. Their purpose is to keep you moving forward, no matter how bizarre they may seem. But it’s also important to make sure you get the help you need if you feel like you’re not in control anymore. Your safety, health, and well being should always be your most important priority.