This is a guest post written by Taylor Deckant. Taylor lives life by the motto "Dream Big" and is always trying to find ways to give back. She always finds the good in people and is very happy to contribute to a movement she truly believes in.
When I was younger, my mom religiously watched the Food Network. There was one particular show that we weren't very fond of but would leave on while we went about our morning and something the host said still rings through my head: "if you can't make your own, store-bought is fine."
It's true! If you've ever cooked or baked, you know that there are many small parts of complicated recipes that you can buy fully prepared or make yourself and either option yields a perfectly delicious result. For the most part, I've always been a store-bought girl. I don't always have the means or motivation to make my own ingredients for recipes. Sometimes you need orange juice quickly and that fresh squeezed just takes a little longer!
The same is true for my happiness. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder with obsessive compulsive tendencies in 2013 during my freshman year of college. It manifested in my daily life as an unrelenting, paralyzing fear that I was going to fail and an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. At first, I opted to work through my diagnosis with talk therapy, more physical activity, and less stress.
Spoiler alert: it didn't work.
The lifestyle changes I made were incredibly beneficial but they weren't enough. I wasn't living my college years to their fullest. I was missing out on fun activities my friends were a part of, I could barely bring myself to get out of bed, and I was constantly wishing I could just be happy. At that point, I made the decision to start the journey of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs, from now on.) Currently, I am on a 20mg dose of fluoxetine.
SSRIs work by preventing your brain from absorbing serotonin which allows better transmission of messages between neurons. Serotonin affects every aspect of your daily life. From your fine motor skills, to your mood, all the way to digestion, serotonin is there making your body work. Unfortunately, my body doesn't and wasn't producing enough serotonin on it's own to keep up with demand so I have to help it along with some store-bought ingredients. According to an article written in 2013, this is the case for almost 13 percent of Americans.
It took some time to figure out what medication worked best for me. I will never pretend it was an easy journey but for me, it was better than just hoping things would change. I started to have more happy days. I was socializing more and worrying less. I could make phone calls and ask questions without hyperventilating in the bathroom first. I was doing better in school and in my social life and this is right around the time I found Liz and her "Happiness is" posts. I met Liz through my cousin and a few friends from high school.
Liz's catalog of small, daily things that brought her happiness was exactly what I needed after starting SSRIs. You see, I was missing out on these small joys and I didn't notice. It was something most people take for granted. The sun on your face on a spring day, the perfect sized dress on the clearance rack, remembering your rain boots and not worrying about getting your feet wet. Every day, Liz will post something small and genuine that brings her joy and every day, I am grateful that I can feel it too.
Mental health has recently been brought to the forefront of the public eye and we are very lucky for that! With celebrities like Kevin Love and Demi Lovato opening up about their battles, it has allowed us to break down barriers and attack the stigma surrounding happiness and emotional healthiness. We still have a long way to go but the public is taking steps in the right direction.
My happiness is store-bought and genuine. I never take the small joys in life for granted because I know what it's like to live without them. Always ask for help if you need it, explore all of your options, appreciate the little things, and remember: happiness is...store-bought serotonin and a good boxed cake mix.