What Makes You Happy? Week 9 with Amber

Welcome to week 9 of my What Makes You Happy? guest series. I am thrilled to have Amber, a fellow mental health blogger, on board this week. I found this a relatable, deep and inspiring read, and I’m sure you will too…

Hello! My name is Amber, I’m 19 years old and I’m a mental health blogger at my-lifeincolour.blogspot.co.uk! You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter @maimed_mariposa.

Here is what makes me happy:

  1. MyCats – I got my first cat when I was 15 years old, when my depression was in full force. This may sound silly to some people but I definitely believe that my cats are one of the main reasons why I am still here and why I am in recovery. I was so full of hate and I desperately needed something to love. Despite having a loving family and friend group I hated everyone because my anxiety convinced me that they only ‘loved’ me out of pity or because they had no choice. I needed a love that I couldn’t discredit. When you are crying in your room at 3am and your cat comes and sits on your lap or when you’re having a panic attack and your cat affectionately nuzzles your leg, it’s pretty hard to convince yourself that their love isn’t real. I also had meningitis last year which resulted in chronic migraines and photophobia and I would collapse from the pain multiple times every day. Sometimes I would be lying on the floor, regaining consciousness and my cat would be lying on my back or nuzzling my face and I couldn’t help but laugh despite the pain. I’ve heard that cats can sense when you are in pain – both physically and emotionally – and I definitely believe that is true.
  2. Hair Dye – I have social anxiety and so you would think that I would hate having brightly coloured hair. I hate people noticing me, so why would I dye my hair bright blue? To be honest, I’m not really sure why dyeing my hair unnatural colours makes me so happy, but for some reason it is one of the few things which always lifts my mood and gives me a huge boost of confidence. Perhaps it’s because it allows me to control people’s immediate impressions of me, steering them away from what I’m self-conscious about. I also think that it makes me feel included. Even though I may not talk to many people in the ‘bright-hair community’, by simply dyeing my hair I can feel some sense of belonging which is extremely comforting for someone who struggles with socialising. It’s really strange because as soon as I dye my hair my confidence increases dramatically. I talk more, I smile more and I leave the house more. It may only be a temporary improvement but every bit of happiness helps. Also, living with depression is just a really dark experience and adding literal bursts of colour into your life every now and then definitely doesn’t hurt. There are far more in-depth articles about the psychological benefits of hair dying and I would definitely suggest you look into it if you’re as interested in the subject as I am!
  3. 4am DMC’s (Deep Meaningful Conversations) – I overthink, a lot. I worry about death, the end of the world and similar issues way more than I should, which has led to a lot of nightmares and sleepless nights. I also think that a lot of the time I get depressed because I feel extremely insignificant and as horrible as it may sound, sometimes knowing that your family would miss you just isn’t enough. I need to matter. I need to feel like I’ve made some positive difference in the world even if that’s in a small way. And for some reason, talking about existence and death and morality and the apocalypse allows me to organise the hurricane of thoughts in my brain, giving me a sort of cathartic experience. For a lot of people, talking about these things may heighten their anxiety but for some reason it eases mine. I guess when you always feel small, talking about how everyone feels this way and how everyone is small in the grand scheme of things is oddly comforting. These sort of conversations allow people to share in their vulnerability. It strengthens relationships and allows people to get closer than they may have thought possible. As strange as it may sound, maybe talking about life, death and the universe is comforting because it reminds me that I’m alive, even when I don’t think that’s what I want and even when I feel disconnected. Life is confusing and strange but talking about it allows me to look at it in awe instead of fear.
  4. Reading – Anyone who knows me knows that I am quite the bibliophile. Fiction or non-fiction. Classic or horror. It doesn’t really matter to me. It’s not only a form of escape and distraction but it’s a productive form of escape and distraction. Or at least it feels that way. It may not be one of the most important things that I should be doing but when I struggle to get out of bed or when I’m too anxious to get actual work done, finishing a chapter or two (or an entire book) gives you a much needed sense of accomplishment, even if it is small.
  5. Christmas – Although the holidays can be a very stressful time, for me it is still the happiest time of the year. Spending time with family, baking cookies and mince pies, the movies, the smells, the decorations, the snow! It may sound stupid but during my lowest moments, when I thought I couldn’t go on, I would tell myself to just make it until Christmas and somehow it worked. Although winter is the coldest season, during the Christmas holidays I’m filled with this warmth that spreads throughout me and I feel like a happier and kinder person. It may be over commercialised but when you strip it down to its core, Christmas is about family, love and togetherness. It’s probably the only time of the year when we collectively choose to seek out the good instead of focusing on the bad. It’s a time when we allow ourselves to be happy and to remind ourselves of what makes us happy, whether that’s a candle or a loved one.

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