By Guest Writer Miranda M.

This morning I woke up to this picture on the left in my memory on Facebook from 5 years ago. I sat there, hunched over the breakfast table, exhausted as my toddler alarm clock that had woken me up at 6 a.m. this morning cheerily operated at full energy levels that I would be chasing after all day.

reason for happiness

I thought “wow, I was pretty”. I got up when I wanted, which was rarely before 10 a.m. My hair was dyed in a fancy ombré and styled perfectly. My skin looked perfect. There was no double chin. I miss that life.

And then I looked at the date, October 1, 2015, and I realized that picture was not an accurate portrayal of my happiness. It was exactly a week before I got Gamgee, my unofficial emotional support dog. In October 2015 I was struggling with crippling depression, anxiety, and what was never diagnosed but I believe to be PTSD. Yes, I was getting 10+ hours of sleep a night but that meant I was sleeping until sometimes 5 in the evening, and struggling to pass my classes because I couldn’t get myself out of bed. My bank account was always overdrawn, I only ate sugar and takeout, I stayed up all night, I didn’t exercise and I took no responsibility for the health of my own body. I struggled to find a reason to keep living more often than anyone wants to admit.

But a week later I took a big step and I got a dog. That dog made me get out of bed. Exercise. Take responsibility. Taking him on walks is what made me start hanging out with the man I would later marry. It helped me be healthy enough to have a relationship with him. That man helped me not only feel loved but also helped me love myself enough to push myself and take care of myself.

We now have a beautiful daughter. But it’s not her beauty that has helped heal me. She takes a cute picture but what she’s really done for me is made me push myself more. Made me keep going when I thought I would literally drop dead of exhaustion (no joke). Makes me get up every morning and make something of my life. Makes me go outside more and watch tv less. Has made me face some of my biggest fears and realize I can survive them.

I have been off my antidepressants since I found out I was pregnant with her, that’s over two years off medication that I felt like I couldn’t survive without for 10 years. Now I don’t take such a cute selfie, most pictures don’t even have me in them. The bags under my eyes don’t go away, my double chins continue to double, I don’t remember the last time I did my hair, and some days I don’t get to shower.

Regulating my emotions continues to be one of my hardest trials, and I have new stresses and frustrations that sometimes make me angrier or more scared than ever. But I’m happy. I’ve never been so happy. I’m trying harder than I’ve ever tried at anything and it’s scarier than anything I’ve ever done but I’m also happier than I’ve ever been.

So if you’re struggling to get out of bed right now please keep doing it. You might not be able to think of the reason to keep living right now. But you won’t find the reason lying in bed. Get up and find your reason. Because it’s waiting for you. And once you find it it’s going to get ugly, in the most beautiful, wonderful way.

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