I Didn't Laugh For A Year, This Is What I Learned

What Not Being Able To Laugh For A Year Taught Me About Happiness

When I emerged from a year of darkness, I learned lessons about self-worth and fulfillment that gave me back my ability to enjoy life.

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When I was in the sixth grade, at the age of 12, I struggled considerably with anxiety and depression. Many would relegate feelings of anxiety as simply "growing pains": part of the process of becoming a teenager that many of us must go through to find our identities. However, in many cases, anxiety evolves in a much more complex manner, manifesting in the form of panic attacks, mood changes, identity crisis amongst other experiences. Anxiety is very frequently coupled with depression, as was my experience. For a 12-year-old particularly, these feelings can be especially devastating.

Outwardly a very friendly and outgoing person, the evidence of my mental struggles wasn't always outwardly apparent. At times, I suffered in private. I would have uncontrollable bouts of crying, often inexplicably crying myself to sleep every night. But perhaps the most noticeable indicator of my complex internal state was my inability to laugh. I found myself unable to genuinely laugh for nearly a year. Nothing. Comedy shows lost their luster, and my favorite corny jokes of the past didn't hit me they way they had previously. Needless to say, young me was very perplexed- and saddened.

After nearly a year's worth of personal progression and evolution, as well as some help from my loved ones, I learned the things vital to help me navigate my feelings of depression and anxiety. Perhaps the most significant of quotes that's stuck with me since the six years I first experienced my depression is that "You are the only person responsible for your own happiness." Now, this hit young me square in the face, as I was very reliant on the people who I thought were my closest friends and my investment in my extracurricular activities (I was a competitive cheerleader at this time) to keep me happy. But the instant those friendships felt apart (as middle school friendships invariably do) and simultaneously I did not make the cheerleading team that I had dreamed of being apart of for so long, I no longer had a source of happiness. And thus came the depression. I realized the hard way that outside sources of happiness are fickle, and the only common denominator was me. After the friends, after cheerleading, I was the only one that had to live inside my brain and deal with my emotions. So I should be the one responsible for cultivating the permanent positivity in my life, myself.

Another thing I learned, although it may seem plainly obvious, is that by recognizing myself as a person deserving of happiness, I manifested that very same happiness in my everyday life. How I felt about myself directly correlated to my feelings of what I was worthy of, and by feeling as if I do not deserve to be happy, I was keeping myself from the very happiness I desired. Recognizing myself as a person who deserved to be happy did not "cure me" by any stretch of the imagination, as I still struggle at times with depression and anxiety. However, it allowed me to shift my focus and prioritize my own fulfillment. I was able to channel my energy into the activities that made me the happiest and reap the benefits of those activities, as I now saw myself as a willing participant in my own happiness rather than a passive spectator.

None of this is to say that people who suffer from anxiety and depression simply "aren't trying to be happy" nor are they to blame for the complex feelings they experience. My understanding of my own journey through the pitfalls of depression and anxiety has given me a perspective of my own, and each individual's struggle is completely unique. Nevertheless, I believe we all can benefit from learning about the experiences of others finding a route to their own happiness.

And now, in spite of the hardships I might face, I laugh louder than ever before.

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How Happiness In A Relationship Is So Important

What is the happiness and love that we as individuals deserve when it comes to our relationship?

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It's different for each of us. Some prefer being showered in gifts, being showed off on social media, bragged about to family and friends. But, what is the one thing that all of those have in common?

That would be the unmistakable amount of love your significant other has for you, that they will do anything to show you that they love you unconditionally. We all show our love for one another in various ways. I for one love being shown the love someone else has for me in small things they do.

It could be a simple 'good morning love' text message or even just a hug out of the blue. Knowing that someone cares so deeply about you is one of life's greatest gifts. Knowing that another human being loves you and wants to be with you, it makes us drunk off of love and our heads float up to the stars.

However, when we don't feel that love, that connection, that reassurance from our significant other that they love and care for us back, it can be an extremely overwhelming and a lonely feeling.

We start looking for those feelings and connections elsewhere. In our friends for reassurance if we look good or blowing up their phones for attention.

We start caring about if other people find us attractive or not, we relish in compliments that other people give us. We start looking for that happiness elsewhere. It's not because you stop loving your significant other or stop caring about them, but we as humans need to feel important and like we are needed by another person.

When you stop letting your significant other know how much you care about them or showcasing your love for them, even if it's a simple gesture like holding their hand or holding the door open for them, they will begin to look elsewhere.

Now I am in no way saying that they will cheat on you, but your relationship and their attitude and feelings towards you will never be the same until you start showing them how much they mean to you just as much as they do for you. I don't condone cheaters or staying in a relationship that you are not happy in.

Yes, some relationships go through hard times like distance or a traumatic event. However, the way I see it is if you entered into the relationship, to begin with, you obviously cared about that person a lot and if they show you that they care and love you for the person you are and your past then they deserve the same in return from you.

Relationships are not always easy, they take time, determination, communication, compromise, and love to stay afloat. If one of you isn't willing to give your all and put forth the effort needed then it will never work. A relationship can't be successful if it is only one-sided.

Despite peoples life's being busy on a day to day basis, you need to always find time for your significant other. Because at the end of the day when things hit the fan, your significant other should be the one that will be there no matter what and always be by your side.

All in all, you need to treat each other the way in which you would want to be treated in a relationship and treat them the way they should be treated despite whatever chaos is going on in the world about you. Love is the conquer of all and should never be thrown around or not taken seriously.

Loving someone else is a gift we are given by God and never taken lightly.

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You Know You're From Trumbull, CT When...

The best memories are made in this boring, little, Connecticut town.

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1. The majority of places you will consider to eat at are in Fairfield or Westport... Colony, Shake Shack, Country Cow, Playa Bowls, BarTaco

2. But if you find yourself too lazy to get on 95 for food, Panchero's is the go-to... never Chipotle. If it is past midnight, the choice always comes down to the McDonalds in Monroe, where you are almost guaranteed to see a group of people you know, or Merritt Canteen.

3. Once you got your license, your Friday night plans consisted of picking up friends, driving up and down Main Street, and, somehow, always finding yourself at the THS parking lot seeing who's car is there because there is nothing better to do.

4. In the Fall, you couldn't wait for Friday so that after school you and half of your grade could walk to Plasko's Farm for ice cream and apple cider donuts... and hope you could get them before the owners would yell at you to leave. (This one only applies to Hillcrest Middle School kids, AKA the inferior middle school in town).

5. You couldn't wait to be a senior so you could officially lead the BLACK HOLE at football games... if you were even willing to go in the cold.

6. You looked forward to the annual Senior Scav, the last week of summer before your senior year where a list of tasks is passed down by the recently graduated class... the official kickoff to senior year.

7. You pass by Country Club Rd. and get flashbacks from the worst Cross Country practices ever. Driving up Daniels Farm Rd. in the Fall and Spring, you are conditioned to yell "hi" out the window to your friends at practice.

8. You knew someone who worked at Gene's gas station... and found yourself spending more time there on the weekends than you would like to admit.

9. You are convinced Melon-heads are real after frequenting Velvet St. to see the abandoned insane asylum with your friends, IF you didn't want to drive all the way up to Fairfield Hills in Newtown.

10. You have had/have been to at least one middle school birthday party at the Trumbull Marriott.

11. You know that the 25mph speed limit on Whitney Ave. is way too slow... and can't help but hit a little air going down the huge hill at the top.

12. The guy at Towne likely knows your name.

13. You never find yourself turning right out of THS... that side of town is irrelevant for those who do not live there.

14. You know to avoid the Merrit Parkway from 4:00-7:00pm at all costs.

15. You know more than you would like to about people you aren't even friends with... in a town so small, things get around very quick.

16. Going shopping really means going to Target, or any store in the mall, for the millionth time that week.

17. The marching band was the best in the state and you would see them practicing, literally, every time you drove by THS.

19. Depending on the side of town you lived, you spent a lot of time at Five Pennies Park or Indian Ledge Park.

20. You would say you couldn't wait to leave, but when you got to college, you find yourself excited to come back to your hometown so you can reminisce on old traditions and make new memories.

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