I have a great smile. My husband always says its my best quality and its why he fell in love with me. There are some days (like today) when I struggle to find happiness and use my best feature.
The depression of IBS can be very difficult to deal with, and I definitely have my bad days. Being a very social person, I like to go out, meet people and have a few drinks. It’s tough when you’re worried about your IBS symptoms getting in the way, as well as figuring out how you’re going to dine while on a restrictive diet. Plus, explaining to people why you brought your own food or why you’re not eating is not really great dinner conversation.
I am still in pain from celebrating my husband’s birthday two days ago by going to a Cubs game. I ate before we went and I had 3 Smirnoff Vodka drinks at the game. I passed on all the delicious baseball foods surrounding me. I still woke up yesterday with severe pain. It’s moments like this where its hard to not get depressed. I want to be able to go out and have fun. I want to be that happy girl with the great smile. I just want a normal life.
But that’s not the hand I was dealt. So what do I do when I am struggling to smile and find happiness? Besides some relaxation techniques and looking through some of my favorite personal photos, I refer to my Happy List. My Happy List contains things that I am thankful for and reasons why I should be happy. While I do have struggles, its a great reminder of how blessed I am.
My Happy List:
- I have an awesome husband. He is my rock and truly my best friend. He makes me laugh and has been there for me throughout all my health issues. He’s learned how to cook within my diet restrictions and takes care of me when I am not feeling well.
- I have a great family. While none of my family members live close, they’re just a phone call away. My parents were slow to catch on with the gluten free diet that I was on for years, but they finally understand how to incorporate me into family gatherings. My sisters understand me like no other and I can tell them anything.
- I have 4 adorable nieces and nephews to dote on. Again, they don’t live close, but that’s what Skype is for. When I see them, they yell “Aunt Heather” and run to give me a big hug, and my heart just melts.
- I have 3 handsome cats that are always ready to play or snuggle. It makes me feel very loved and needed.
- I am living my dream by residing in an urban area. I grew up in a very small town with a population of 3,000 and 1 stoplight. While my childhood was great, cities always fascinated me and I always wanted to live without a car. It took me until I was 30 to do it, and it’s even better than I thought it could be.
- We have great neighbors. We share a deck with them and they are the best. We share food, share stories and they take care of our kitties when we go out of town. We were very lucky to move into a building next to people that we have come to love like family.
- I’ve had the same amazing friends for over 25 years. We grew up together and we always remained close. Even though we can go months and even years without seeing each other, we always pick up right where we left off.
- Three of my four grandparents lived into their 90s. While they have all passed now, I have some great genes and was able to spend a long time with them while they were here. Also, I got bonus grandparents since both grandparents divorced and remarried before I was born. Having 8 grandparents growing up was a special treat.
- I have a very stable job that allows me to work from home when my health gets in the way. When I do go in the office, I have a beautiful view of downtown from my desk. I am respected in my field and I have been promoted twice in the last year.
- Recently I was reunited with my most prized possession, a stuffed pig I’ve had since I was a year old. The pig was in my luggage that was stolen 4 years ago, and after years of searching, my husband found me an identical replacement.
- I have had the luxury of taking many vacations. I’ve been all over the US and to some tropical locations. My husband and I are also planning our dream vacation to Italy next Spring.
- I graduated from college with a good GPA. I think this is a great accomplishment because I am not a good test taker. I tend to have a more creative mind that usually doesn’t fit into a true/false system.
- I excelled as an athlete in grade school and high school. While I haven’t been active in sports in a long time, I have this on the list because I set some lofty goals for myself to attain before I graduated high school and I achieved them all. This reminds me that I can do anything I set my mind to.
- I live almost completely debt free. The only loan I haven’t paid off is the mortgage on our house. We don’t struggle to pay bills and can afford some nice things. However, winning the lottery would be nice, too!
- The online community has been a big support to me and I find much happiness here. It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone in my struggles and have received some great advice on how to cope. Also, by being very open with my friends about my health, I have discovered that a few of them also have IBS and have the same daily battles.
- I am surrounded by beauty. Even in the city, we have gorgeous flowers and awesome sunsets. There is amazing historic architecture that has a unique story to tell. I live 5 blocks from a huge park and less than a mile from the beach. There is beauty everywhere and I always remember what my Grandma would tell me… “Stop and smell the roses.”
- The best day of my life was my wedding day. It’s a happiness I never felt before, not only because I was getting married, but knowing that 200 people were there to share in my joy. I had never felt so loved.
While this list may sound like bragging, its designed to look at the positives in my life rather than this looming big negative. It’s how I am continually finding happiness while dealing with the pain and frustration that comes with having IBS.
Do you have others ways of finding happiness with IBS? I would love to hear them, as well as some things that make you happy everyday.