When was the last time you were happy?  It’s a question I sometimes ask friends from time to time.  The answers vary.  Another question I tend to ask is ‘when was the last time you were happy for 24 full hours?’  My answer has always surprised those around me.  


I would say I can’t remember the last time I was happy.  And 24 hours of happiness probably dates back 10 years for me. 


Happiness, the pursuit of happiness and revisiting the things that make me happy have always been a theme in my life, but it has definitely been apparent this year.  


2020 started off so promising; a new year, a new decade.  I started out the year doing work that I loved, with many prospective projects on the horizon.  I also started the new year with a budding romance; butterflies and feelings that I had never felt before.  


Then something unprecedented hit: Covid-19.  A pandemic that myself and the majority of the world had never seen or experienced in our lifetime.  The world essentially stopped.  Most of the world’s activities and life as we had known it came to a sudden, screeching halt.  And just like that, many of my plans were put on pause.  


Although I tried to command the tidal wave Covid had hurled into my life, the truth is that it exposed depression that silently enveloped my life.  



It was strongly suggested and at certain times mandated that we stay home and socially distanced from one another, I worked for a company that deemed me an ‘essential worker’.  Being an ‘essential worker’, while it kept me employed, had me unfortunately working in close proximity with people, with the danger of being exposed.  It was crowded daily, with little to no social distancing.  Even as many employees tested positive for Covid, it did not shut down for one day.  It left me consistently drained.  Ontop of that, this job is not a job that aligned with my purpose or long term goals, and because of the uncertainty that the pandemic created, I decided to continue at this job.


Because I had to put development of projects on hold, I felt stuck.  Not being able to have leisurely adventures that I was so used to (and planning to embark on more) left me feeling stifled.  


Without much leisure or extracurricular activities to look forward to, I soon found myself in a deep funk.  Stuck in a job I was unhappy in, and with not much of an outlet, I found myself constantly depleted; both physically and mentally.  As the pandemic wore on, so too did my funk.  The funk deepened to a point when I realized that I no longer felt like myself.  I felt alien.  Things that I truly enjoyed I no longer engaged in; things I did participate in were things I kind of passively did.  I only felt like sleeping and staying in bed outside of going to work. 



I felt stuck, deeply depressed, and didn’t know where to go.  All I did know was I wanted to change.  


The first step for me was finding a therapist.  I’ve been in therapy for several years and have always been a staunch supporter of it.  Since relocating to Houston, I hadn’t had the opportunity to engage in that essential form of self-care for myself.  Once I found a therapist, I began to unpack the things that truly had me feeling depressed.  


For me, engaging in therapy let me know that much of my depression stemmed from past traumas, hurt, and baggage I was holding onto.  Being down was from years of struggle and pain that was bigger than me and outside of my control.  It was also about building my own accountability, and building up my own self-esteem, and seemingly rebuilding my own vision of “self” from the ground up. 



Throughout the pandemic and 2020 I learned more about myself than I had the several years prior.  I learned that I didn’t need to torture myself for past struggles and hardships.  I also learned that old ways of survival were only going to get me the same old results, and that I needed to step out of ‘survival’ mode into a more ‘thriving’ mode.  


I learned to be more open and honest; not just to myself to myself, but to those around me.  Being such a private and personal person, I learned that part of healing and moving forward is to be open and stand in my truth, and share my story.  Being honest allowed for me to let go of the internal pressure to always be ‘perfect’ and ‘on’, and just ‘be’.  


I also learned that it is important to celebrate the wins and the victories, however small or big they are.  Especially in a pandemic.  I had to (and still have to) remind myself of the wins I’ve had this year.  Even through the pandemic, I’ve been able to engage in work that I love and am passionate about (even been recognized by the Mahogany Project, Inc. with the Rising Phoenix Award for that work), had the opportunity to network and build some amazing connections within the community.  I’ve been able to expand and grow my business, write, and even pick up and revisit projects I didn’t have the personal courage to follow-through with. 


Being depressed isn’t a foreign feeling or concept, especially during a pandemic.  It is important to take care of yourself.  It is crucial that you are finding your happiness, celebrating yourself and your wins, and engaging in self-care.  


While things may not be ideal and far from perfect, it can be okay as you move along your journey to better.  And there is nothing wrong with that.