Holy wow! It’s November. That can only mean one thing. Nanowrimo. For the uninitiated, Nanowrimo is a contest amongst writers. every November we huddle down and try to write a novel in a month. Fifty thousand words. Thirty days. One thousand six hundred sixty-seven words a day. and at the end of the month we celebrate by collapsing into hibernation. But at least we can sleep well knowing we have done something most people only say they‘re going to do. We wrote a book. Whether it gets published, that’s not the point. The point is, we put our butts int he chairs and fingers on the keyboards and did the thing. We plotted. We pantsed. We plantsed. And we did the thing. We did the thing with the typing and the words.
My first attempt at Nanowrimo was a thirty day challenge based on the gratitude challenge. It was fun. So much fun I decided to try it again. This time I’m trying the happiness challenge. Thirty days of trying things to make me happier.
I’ve never been shy about my battles with depression and anxiety. I’m doing better now than I was a few years ago. It hasn’t been easy. I don’t have insurance so I don’t have the luxury of therapists and medication. Instead, I write. Sometimes, my writing gives me anxiety, but that’s a whole ‘nother ball of worms. Couple that with the fact I’ve always tried to use humor to diffuse situations, and you get these kinds of books.
And don’t get me wrong. I’ve had plenty of people tell me there is nothing funny about depression. Anxiety is no joke. Yeah, I know. Trust me. Between me and my kid, I get to see every day the effects of these disorders on my family. But, I’m of the mind if I don’t laugh I’ll cry. And I can’t do that. I cry enough. I cry when I’m happy. I cry when I’m sad. I cry when I’m angry. I cry when I’m confused. I cry all the time. So, I need to do something to alleviate that. I need something to cause me to cry because I’m laughing so hard. I’ve learned to be that person for myself.
No one else is going to make you happy. You will feel happy with other people but in the end you are in charge of your happiness. Sometimes it runs away and can only be coaxed back with Oreos and ice cream. Sometimes it’s so out in the open it infects others. This is when infecting others is a good thing. Happiness is a disease worth spreading.
And that’s why I write. I write to make others smile and laugh. And to poke fun at myself.
Mel Brooks said it best. I’m paraphrasing here: the best way to take an enemy down is by making fun of them. If you know Mel Brooks you’d know he makes fun of racists, Nazis, bullies, and other terrible things in our society. That’s his way of slaying the giants. Monsters aren’t so scary if you can laugh at them. Remember Harry Potter? The boggart? That’s what this is. I am turning my monsters into ridiculous things and laughing at them. They’re still scary and it can be harder at some times to make fun of those beasts. And that’s when I try harder.
It’s ok to call in reinforcements. My latest go to make me laugh until I cry has been Ellen sending her producer to haunted houses. I got a whole abdominal workout watching those this weekend. watching Andy pee his pants gives me life. Until I can’t breathe because I’m laughing so hard. Then I need a mask and some oxygen. Seriously, those videos are that funny.
In the end, it‘s up to me to make myself happy. I need to come to terms with things I can’t change. I‘ve already begun my journey of self fulfilled happiness by getting rid of negativity. I try not to watch the news. I‘ve gotten rid of negative people on Facebook and real life. I listen to affirmations. I still want to smack people but I don’t and that’s growth. I‘m proud of myself. I deserve a corgi and a latte. But seriously, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given is this: before you diagnose yourself with depression or anxiety, make sure you’re not surrounding yourself with assholes.
I’m still depressed. I still have anxiety. but I but at least I’m not surrounded by assholes. and that’s progress, too. It would surprise you how much of a difference that makes.
So, now I’m starting a new journey, just in time for the stress and anxiety of the holidays. Whoever decided November was a great time to do this needs to have a large family and rambunctious children.
Maybe that’s why they chose November, now that I come to think of it. It’s a great opportunity to put a sign on the door that says, “Keep out! Writer at work.” Like that would ever stop my family. But at least I can say they’ve been warned. And with doing the happiness challenge, maybe I’ll find something to keep me from overindulging in Oreos. I’ve already looked over the list though. There’s yoga on it. Yoga? Yeah, yoga. I may die. But at least I have the turkey to look forward to. and turkey makes everything better.
So, sit down. Put your feet up. Get your favorite beverage and snack. Duct tape the kids to the wall.
Come on. Get happy.