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I felt at peace for the first time and all I could do was worry about losing that feeling and whether or not I’d be able to find it again.

It happened during a weird, blissful week this July. Time felt like it moved slower and everything seemed less chaotic, even though time doesn’t work like that and the world was still a roaring dumpster fire.

I lingered watching butterflies flutter, smiled at birds chirping as they strutted about and did my best not to disturb the sunbathing lawn bunnies on the walk to work I typically loathed. At home, instead of distracting myself in other worlds and stuffing my face on the couch, I read in the park, wrote on my balcony and swam in Lake Michigan for the first time in a decade.

The elation, ease and serenity I felt that week were foreign. I spent the last two years putting in the work at therapy, all the while convinced it was an exercise in futility, I would forever be a sad girl.

I found myself crying when I thought about it, how I was so overcome with emotions I never thought I’d get to experience. I was relieved, proud… and suddenly scared.

How long could I hold onto this merriment when feelings come and go as they please? This potent glee couldn’t last and I was worried when it left it wouldn’t return. Wouldn’t I be even sadder then, knowing I once tasted pure joy just as the well ran dry?

You can’t blame me for resisting when divine jubliance was driven out by the gloom of PMDD settling in. I clung to the brief rushes of ecstasy I’d get when I came across one of the everyday delights I’d only recently begun appreciating. Inevitably, shortly after those quick hits of happiness, I’d get swallowed by the gnawing depression and anxiety gorging on the calm I’d finally cultivated.

I repeated everything is temporary as a fervent mantra. When my feelings got dark I dared my thoughts not to follow them. I fought the urge to lay in bed all day and think about the various ongoing atrocities that rationalized my misery and found comfort in sticking to my routine, even if there wasn’t the same pep in my step.

It took a while to get it back, but I found euphoria again. I was floating in Lake Michigan. The water was the stillest it’d been all summer. Billowing clouds passed overhead breaking up the big blue sky that was starting to fade into shades of pink and purple. The water was cold but my fingertips could feel where the sun had warmed its surface. There it was, washing over me, this indulgent exhilaration.

Hello there, welcome back, I missed you.

Happiness is fleeting, but we can form habits that bring it around more often, or at least I’d like to think so.

It’s about building on the basics: getting that good good sleep, incorporating healthier foods into your diet, contributing to the things you value, communicating with those you love, meeting your physical and emotional needs and developing a kinder inner dialog.

Do you know what you need? What you really need? I sure didn’t know what I needed until I had someone who was nice enough to walk me through it. It seems like such an easy question but when you really think about it, you might realize you haven’t been taking good care of yourself for a long time.

Happiness isn’t lost, it’s waiting for you to find it again.