Still Smiling

I have to write right now, because this happiness cannot be contained. Sometimes I wonder how I get so lucky. Sometimes I really believe I do not deserve nice things. I think I am paying for sins that I do not remember. Then I remember, everyone is a sinner. Everyone deserves another chance. So I stop. I breathe. I start again. This time, it is good. This time it will be good. I will get up and I will smile. I will keep myself together. I will hold on. I will never stop trying. I am deserving of goodness too.

I cannot stop smiling. I cannot stop smiling about how I managed to ask for help and once again, got more than I could possibly have asked for. I cannot stop smiling for my sister. She is my support. She is my real life (close enough to touch) inspiration. She is my late night calls and reading through my work. She is my place to crash and always checking in.

I am smiling because I love my academic mentor. She is easy to relate to, so kind and caring. She is understanding of everything. She is a good cheerleader. I met my counsellor today. We talked for ages about Ruby Wax and I showed her milk and honey. We talked about women and sexual violence and mental illnesses. We talked about connecting with people and when you just know. I know that anyone who knows Ruby Wax and is open to Rupi Kaur (my far-off inspirations), will know me. She said thank you to me for showing her the book and for sharing insights with her. I love that. The idea that nothing is one-sided. I love the discussions that you have and the impact of every little thing. I love people who understand depression and mindfulness and all the small things that make me. After all, they are not small. They are huge and meaningful.

I am smiling because I love my friends. I love that they are there to listen. They are willing to learn. I love that I can be explained so easily and I am becoming more willing to explain to those who are open to understanding. I love that people go to find out more and my sister is an example of excellent family support. I love the friends that ask what do you need instead of is there anything I can do. Most of the time, you cannot do much. You cannot bring back the dead or undo the past. You cannot change the way my mind works. On the bad days, I need to be told to eat and told to go outside, because these things make me feel better and I do not always remember that until asked. Pressure on people to accommodate you when they are suffering is not helpful. People will come to you when they need you, so be what they need. Be a listener, be a cheerleader, but do not be an added  pressure.

I am smiling because I have books. Lots of books. The thing about starting a new book is the simple logic I have from depression which is: that I cannot die until I finish the book. I have to find out what happens, how it ends. That is what Sylvia Plath taught me. Read, always read. Read and you have something to hold on to. You have hundreds of short-term solutions and with that comes one big solution. You can hold on for a very long time, because there are endless amounts of books for just one lifetime.

I am smiling because it is simple. Happiness is simple. Surviving is simple. Soon, I will be thriving. For now, I know that I have big jumpers and cups of tea and long walks and poetry and sunsets and these things will not go anywhere. I know that I get to smile when I find the right quote for my mood that fits in with the picture in front of me. I have handwritten letters, which I could probably string together across miles. I have that glorious symbol of friendship that keeps my vultures at bay. I have excessive amounts of food and laughing so hard it hurts. I have being outside and feeling the sun on your face. I have happy tears and deep conversations and pure honesty. I have the simple things. I have a life. I have something to hold onto. What more is there to ask for than that?

So I will smile. I will let the monsters see me smiling. There is strength here. There is love here. There is the joy that you wanted to knock out of me. I am stronger than all of it. I will smile for me, even if it none of them see it, I will carry on smiling. There is so much goodness. So remember: never to let the bitterness steal your sweetness.

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