When Your Happy Days Are Tainted With the Memories of Your Bad Days

There’s this miraculous phenomenon that takes place every so often. Sometimes, I feel happily at ease. Living with bipolar disorder from a young age, I’ve experienced years of morbid depressions, as well as plenty of time in the abnormal elation of hypomania or mania. Then, there are the rare occasions, the infrequent and unsettlingly abnormal times, when my mood is quite settled, rational and just an appropriate amount of content.

Ironically, it is on such flawless days when, at the same time, my heart may feel heavy. Why? Because it pains me to recall the intensity of sadness I’ve experienced. There are some days I feel my heart break with the agony of memory, days fluent with flashbacks and grief mixed with self-compassion.

My personal history was painful enough to live out, and the pain is perhaps deepened upon reflection. When my mood is light and I feel happy, I am more easily stabbed with regret of days of disturbing self-torture and acts of aggression. On happy days, I cannot imagine being filled with such self-hate that I take an overdose of pills or starve my body of any iota of nutrition. On happy days, the mere thought of these actions brings tears to my eyes and makes me cringe with pity. On happy days, I am horrified by the thought of my sad days.

What gets to me on these days, the thoughts that linger around, are ones of shock and disbelief. With a clear mind, it seems impossible to behave in such irrational ways. Yet, when my mind is unclear, which it frequently is, the madness seems normal, perhaps even rational. The shock hits me with the realization of just how off-kilter my thoughts can become, followed by the disbelief of just how sick I am at times and the terrifying extent I can fall.

It’s on these wakeful, clear-minded days when my heart feels heavy with the acknowledgement of just how real and severe mental illness is. I tend to be blinded by living in the pit of despair and forget there is good in the world. I forget there is good in me. When I feel the subdued happiness, my awareness is jolted by the fact that, “My gosh, my mind has been terribly sick.”

This brings forth its own bout of sadness, resounding grieving for lost sanity. Therefore, the miracle of my happy days is tainted with bitter-sweetness. Due to some intensely traumatizing self-induced events, I often wonder if I will ever have days of complete freedom, days when I am truly carefree and am able to live in the present moment enjoyably. I wonder if there will be a time when the grieving has ceased and acceptance replaces regret. My hope is for consistent days of the miraculous phenomenon of being happily at ease within my own skin, and furthermore, within the story of my life.

Today, a happy day, I cannot imagine behaving as I have on sad days. Yet, my pattern is to continually return to these sordid places, and whilst there, I cannot imagine ever being happy. Today, I don’t just have hope for my future, but I have a sincere hope for my future happiness, a type of happiness which maintains consistency. This is a type of happiness that, when clouds momentarily overcast, rebounds without judgment. It is a happiness untainted by memories of despair and hurt. Maybe one day I won’t be haunted by my sickness, but instead, I will revel in my wellness.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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