Joy and Elation


In the last three weeks, I have read three or so different posts on “joy”. Apparently it is a hot topic, so I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring.

I don’t want to talk about religious joy. This doesn’t mean I don’t believe. I attend church and a women’s religious support group. I read a devotional nearly every day. And I TRY to take advantage of opportunities that come along to discipleship. So I know that joy comes with God and all. I get that.

But I think there is joy here on earth. Like this little fellow in the image above. He is feeling joy.

I’m 56 on June 16th. Is that too old to feel joy? Probably not if you’re talking about a wedding or the birth of a grandchild….but what about everyday joy? Is it there?

My faithful readers know I have been depressed for several years. And that I am crawling and sliding my way back into recovery. I wonder…am I mistaking joy for mania?

Um, because, when I am manic I feel joy like no other. Things are clear and colorful. Everything is funny and worth a laugh. Relationships take on a cosmic meaning. The highest high can always go further. Joy is there.

And if you’re the sort that equates joy with accomplishing something, look no further than mania. Heck, I wrote a novel and several LONG stories when I was manic. It all just flowed. I was fixated on writing, writing, and living for writing. (This wasn’t too good for my family, however.)

My husband is a content sort of guy. I don’t see much elation there but he is nearly always fairly happy. Not weirdly happy, just moving along through life at a steady pace. Considering he is married to me and what he has been through with me, that is pretty darned good. But is that contentment what I want? I don’t think so.

I read an article somewhere a while ago and I am going to paraphrase here. Someone asked people on their death beds what they wished they had done more of. The two answers were: 1) spending more time and staying in contact with relatives and 2) doing things for other people. So do you get joy there?

I’ve thought about doing things for others. Tutoring kids? Teaching English to adults? Volunteering more at church? Being more of an advocate for mental health?

I’m in contact enough with my relatives. I’ll just have to regret that one on my death bed.

So let’s move on to “elation”. You’ll remember I just took a trip with my friend Pat up to a cabin. We were sitting outside and looking at the woods and she said “Now, this is elation! I need more of it in my life.” Her idea was to get a job up there with the Forest Service.

I don’t want to work for the Forest Service. (too many bugs). But I did like talking to Pat about elation and joy.She didn’t have any immediate answers, but the subject was up for discussion. Now Pat is single. I don’t know if she is hoping falling for some guy will bring her elation.

My best friend Sarah who just left from a nice visit was not too excited about elation and joy. I think she thinks that means MANIA. And she has suffered through mania. So it is not a party for her. She said she thinks elation is like an endorphin thing. That’s why you can focus and get so much done. You are excited. But that kind of feeling is not good for the rest of your life. (Why not?)

I don’t want to sit on the couch, cook dinner, read my devotional, and then die. I want  some joy. I want some elation. I want something secret in my life that is only for me.

So you bipolar people out there, do I want mania?

And you “normals”….what do you think?

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