Thursday, September 15, 2016

Happy, happy, happy

Even the rain can't dampen my mood 

Remember that mysterious lightheartedness I wrote about six weeks ago when I went back to work after my holiday up north? Well, it continues! That makes it less of a mystery: I'm happy!

I'm exhausted and I feel like I've been trampled by a herd of wildebeest, but I'm still happy. I wasn't unhappy before, but now I have that little spring of happiness bubbling away inside me and it's delightful. 

Life is pretty good. I absolutely love my four-day weeks and I'm enjoying my job. I'm relishing being free of the urge to splurge on clothes and shoes (three months and counting...). Luke's almost-three-week absence in July/August seems to have made our hearts grow fonder, and not just for a weeks or so. I actually feel excited about seeing him every day when I get home from work. It's like a new romance all over again (only I don't need to shave my legs regularly or leave the room to fart). 

Although I'm not feeling great physically, there has been some improvement on the migraine front. I've gone off prevention medication and I'm only taking a supplement recommended by my neurologist called MigraineCare, which is mostly magnesium and B vitamins. I'm still getting migraines, but the frequency and duration is significantly reduced, and that's gotta be good for my state of mind. (It's no surprise that chronic pain and depression often go hand in hand.) 

Speaking of depression, I decided about a month ago to reduce my (already fairly low) antidepressant dose by half. I tried to halve my dose at the beginning of last year, but it was short-lived because I very quickly returned to being my unmedicated moody, cranky, negative self again. This made me wonder if my recent happiness was really 'real' while I was on medication.

But I'm pleased to report my happiness does indeed seem real. It's actual happiness, not chemically induced. I have noticed a difference, but not in a bad way - I just feel a little more emotional when I see sad things on TV. For example, last week Foreign Correspondent was about China's so-called left-behind children - kids whose parents have left them, usually in the care of relatives, to move to far-away cities for work, ostensibly to earn money to give their kids a better life. But those poor kids barely had any contact with their parents and they were not always treated well by their relatives. One little girl's fondest wish was simply to have a birthday cake. I nearly cried. But I don't think it's bad to feel more if your feelings are 'normal' and healthy. 

I've pondered why I'm doing better on a lower dose this time around and I suspect it's related to my belly. Yep, my belly. Sounds odd, but there is increasing evidence of close links between mental health and gut health. Back at the start of the year my gut was basically a cauldron of nasty bacteria, but after months of diet modification and supplementation to heal my gut, it's functioning vastly better. I can't know for sure, but I reckon a better balance of gut bacteria is related to my more balanced mental state. 

But I'm not spending too much time analysing it; I'm just enjoying it. 

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