This was posted on a cold and wintry night in January when a lot of us felt depressed. It’s grown into a popular feature on DailyKos.
It seems to have grown into a popular feature that helps build a sense of community. To me, it’s a way of stopping a slide into depression. Seriously, ever notice how except my happy story diaries, my other diaries involve wide scale death and destruction predictions? No? Well, I have. 🙂
So please join me on the jump.
Here’s the first happy diary. I’ll try to pick two or three other posts from the DailyKos threads as an extra bonus feature. (Think of this as the Special Edition DVD version of the happy diaries.)
I’ll share one from a cold and wintry night long ago. It’s not a big moment from life like the wedding day or the birth of the children. It’s just a small moment of happiness.
I was living in Hagerstown, Md. in an old mansion that had been converted into apartments. I had the entire top floor. It was a lovely place with a grand view and hardwood floors and high ceilings and steam radiators that actually worked — unlike some apartments I had lived in.
A heavy snow was falling and the county was shut down. Thick flakes fell steadily.
I made lasagna with my own sauce in the tiny kitchen about the size of a galley on a small yacht.
The kitchen smelled of garlic and onions and tomato sauce and melted cheese. A handful of friends walked down the block and shook off the snow and came up the winding staircase to my top floor. One woman brought the James Bond movies.
We ate dinner by candlelight with the outside light on at the balcony so we could watch the snow falling. I opened a bottle of wine and pured. We had Thunderball in the VCR for when we finished the lasagna, which came out perfect and I was proud of my cooking. Life was good. It was a moment of complete happiness.
I raised my glass to my friends with the toast, “There are people in heaven looking down on us tonight in envy” and we clinked our glasses.
It’s going to be a long four years. We must not give into darkness and despair.
Please share your happy stories, big or small.
I live on such borrowed, wonderful time (4.00 / 74)
In 1999, I started to be sick on a regular basis, and the periods of my infirmity grew longer and longer. Because I was suffering from a chronic sinusitus brought about my a weakened condition, my doctor kept misdiagnosing what after two years was diagnosed as a very rare form of lymphoma. In 2001, I spent one out of every seven days in the hospital. At one time I was 12 days in intensive care, six of those days intubated to help me with my breathing. I almost died on several occasions. I had edema and at one point, I weighed more than 300 pounds. For a great period of time, I could not walk. I used a cane and a walker for month after month. A long and dramatic and very experimental treatment saved my life. I go to the gym four or five times a week and work out vigorously. Everything I have is borrowed from God. Of course, that is true of all of us: I am privileged in a way a lot of people are not to know it.
DCDemocrat: Higher editorial standards than The New York Times.
by DCDemocrat on Fri Jan 21st, 2005 at 22:36:24 EST
Wow. (4.00 / 47)
Suddenly my “recovered from health problem” story seems at once appropriate and minor…
But what the hell.
When my son was almost a year old, I started feeling a lot of pain in my joints and muscles. Over the next several months it worsened, and many trips to many doctors failed to diagnose any reason for it. A year after it had begun, I was almost immobilized by chronic, crippling pain. I couldn’t pick up my son, I was suicidally depressed. I was also massively fucked up (physically for sure and probably mentally) by the horrible assortment of drugs I’d been put on and taken off and put on again. At this point, I was existing with a pain rating of 11 (you know that chart on the hospital wall in the emergency room? 1’s not bad, 5’s pretty bad, 10 is “I want to die”).
Finally, I found a specialist who diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. It’s a controversial diagnosis: no known cause, no known cure. Until the past decade or so, more doctors than not considered it a psychosomatic/hysterical condition (90% of those affected are female). Even now, a good third of doctors will tell you there is no such thing.
The specialist put me on a severe regimen of oxycontin, other painkillers, antidepressants and steroids. It didn’t work. I got physically addicted to the oxycontin and every time I tried to stop taking it I had seizures and was hospitalized.
Finally, I checked into a treatment center to withdraw from all the drugs. I was advised to sue the doctor; seems I was days away from dying — nice drug combo, eh? Oh — and as a bonus, I had major edema and weighed 204 pounds (I’m 5’8″ — or 5’7″ when I slouch).
When I got home, I decided to find my own treatment. It included mild exercise (though it was ridiculously painful) and the elimination of sugar and wheat from my diet.
Within 10 days, my pain level went from off the chart to a 7.
Within a month, I was functioning at a 5 or less. Over the course of 6 months I lost 60 pounds, was able to walk further than a block, stopped wanting to kill myself and was once again able to pick up my son.
It’s been two years since I basically healed myself; the fibromyalgia isn’t gone, but most of the time the pain is manageable. It increases with stress — shocker — so the election and its aftermath have been doubly bad for me. I have my life back — not the way it was, but whenever I start feeling sorry for myself, I remember being in the parking lot at Costco and WEEPING because the thought of getting out of my car and trying to push a cart around the store was overwhelmingly terrifying.
For a while there, I really resented losing my youth — which is what having a chronic health condition is, essentially. It seemed unbearably cruel to be in my early 30s and have the physical strength of an enfeebled octogenarian. But gratitude has replaced resentment. “Why me?” has a very simple reply in this universe, one no one really wants to hear: “Why NOT you?”
I’m going to get off this fucking computer and go play with my son.
Enjoy your evenings, people.
Rage, rage, against the lying of the Right.
by Maryscott OConnor on Fri Jan 21st, 2005 at 23:54:13 EST
and one of my all-time favorites (not that I have favorites. I love all the stories equally…I’m a parent, I have to say that.)
Happy moment (4.00 / 44)
When I was a junior in college, I studied abroad for a semester at University College Galway in Ireland. My dad was born in Ireland, one of 16 children, so I have a huge family there – uncles, aunts, nearly a hundred cousins.
The main reason I went was that I wanted to get to know my granny better – she was 91 and still lived in her little cottage on a farm in the rural northwest that felt untouched in many ways by modern life (no phone, no washer/dryer, only fireplace heatg, cast iron turf-powered stove, etc.) She lived with one of my uncles, a sheep farmer in his 60’s who never married.
I never could figure out my Uncle Philip, though I loved him very much. We weren’t very comfortable with each other – I was a modern American college kid and he was this farmer who had never traveled farther than Dublin, chain smoked 4 packs of Sweet Afton cigarettes a day, and achieved things I couldn’t imagine doing – bringing new animals into the world, keeping them healthy, raising crops. I was utterly useless to him – I couldn’t cook worth a damn, I knew nothing about farming. And the things that I liked about myself at the time, like being on the Dean’s list or winning a scholarship, meant little to him.
My granny died that spring, and when I’d hitchhike home to the farm on weekends I felt totally out of place without her there. Philip was used to my granny taking care of all the “woman things”, like laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc., so when I came home on weekends, I tried to help. But I wasn’t very good at it. Philip and I would eat together in silence, mostly. I’d ask about the cows, the sheep, the weather. He’d give one word answers. I’d make him countless cups of tea and clean for him. But I never felt like I was home.
One weekend, in late June, I left college totally broke to hitchhike home to the farm. When I say totally broke, I mean I had NOTHING. I had 3 pounds in the bank, but the ATM’s only dispensed 5 pound notes. So I stuck my thumb out and hoped I wouldn’t need money for anything.
I made it about 30 miles in one ride, and then a huge downpour started. Irish rain is usually soft, but this was like monsoon rain. Hitchhiking was one of my favorite things about Ireland, but nothing sucks more than hitchhiking in pouring rain. I became completely drenched at the side of the road, and after a while no one wanted to stop to pick me up, because who wants a soaking wet hitchiker drippiing in your front seat. I didn’t even have a couple of pounds to go into pub for a cup of tea and warm up.
Every once in a while a local person would take pity on me and drive me 10 miles or so, but then I’d be out in the rain again. A trip that normally took about 3 hours to hitch ended up taking nearly 8 hours. By the time I arrived in my dad’s hometown, it was pitch black dark, and I had a two mile walk to the farm on winding rural roads with no streetlights.
By the time I arrived at granny’s cottage, around 11 that night, I was exhausted, soaked, muddy (fell twice walking on the road in the dark), sore from my huge backpack, and so lonely I wanted to cry. I opened the door to the cottage (which was never locked), and dropped my waterlogged backpack to the floor. Philip was in his favorite chair in front of the fire, smoking, watching TV with all the lights off. He looked up from the TV, took a drag of his cigarette, and said, “Ah, you’re home, then.”
I didn’t even say anything. I just took off my jacket, sat down in front of the fire, put my head back, and promptly fell asleep.
The next thing I knew, Philip was gently nudging me awake, and in front of me was a tray with a cup of hot tea and a ham sandwich, cut neatly into quarters.
He’d never made me so much as a cup of tea in all those months. I’m not sure he’d ever made a cup of tea for anyone, and here was a ham sandwich, cut into quarters. And the tea had two sugars, just the way he saw me make it all those months.
I looked up and said, “Thanks.” And I was home.
VA Kossacks: Join the VA DKos email list hosted by Democracy for VA!
by Maura in VA on Sat Jan 22nd, 2005 at 00:20:08 EST