So, the other day, someone told me to stop looking for happiness outside and start looking for it within. At that moment, with anger building in my stomach, I couldn’t articulate my thoughts well enough to give a proper response. But now that a few days have passed along with my anger, I’m ready to type out an articulate response to that statement.
To begin with, I would like to declare that I, Lavanya Rana, am a mentally ill person, and this article pertains to the experience of mentally ill people.
My second declaration is about my illness. I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), and one of the major symptoms of this disorder is that I have to deal with a feeling of emptiness or nothingness. Now, I’m not talking about the song emptiness which came out a few years ago and was a wild hit for some reason. Nor am I talking about being bored for ten minutes because you can’t find something fun to do. I am talking about the kind of emptiness that seeps in and leaves you feeling cold.
The emptiness I am talking about is not feeling anything for days or weeks on end. And I don’t just mean not feeling happy when you win a competition. I also mean not feeling sad when something happens to your beloved dog. It means not feeling nervous when your exams are approaching and consequently not studying for them. It means not feeling scared when a friend threatens to cut off ties with you. It is a blankness that seems to encompass your entire universe and there is no way for you to get rid of it.
It is not entirely blank. Irritation at everything and hot, boiling fury become your constant companions. So, instead of just you being miserable, you spread your misery around to all the other people.
When your emotions are so uncomfortable, to say the least, it seems almost impossible to find happiness within. So, you look for happiness without.
And I’m not talking about finding happiness by binge drinking, or chain-smoking. I’m talking about things like going to open mics and performing poetry because the applause you get after performing makes you feel happy and excited. I’m talking about things like watching a movie that you enjoyed twice in the theatres (don’t judge me but for me, it was “Moana”).
Or it could also involve doing things like spending a whole evening crying and spending the night with your roommate, drinking shitty drinks from the vending machine and talking about the wildest things.
Finding happiness outside of you in ways that don’t harm you is not a bad thing at all. It is actually quite important. From time to time, you need to remind yourself that there will be times when you won’t be able to be anything but sad or empty and that is okay; because there are so many activities in the world that bring you joy and they will always be there for you, no matter what.