My 2-word New Year’s Resolution may sound simplistic. But it’s not.

why am i not happy
I’m usually not one for New Year’s resolutions. But this year I’m making one.

It’s going to sound really simple. Kind of odd to some people. But for me, it’s a complex goal that isn’t going to be easy to reach.

I’m going to have to work at it. More than other people. Maybe more than you.

My New Year’s resolution is this: Be Happy.

Being happy used to be so simple years ago. I just simply was happy. Sure, there were bad times, but in general, life was good and I was happy.

Well, in general my life is still good. But am I happy?

I’m not sure that I am. And the fact that I need to think about it isn’t a good sign.

It’s not because anything is wrong. I have a great life. My kids, high-maintenance though they are, are good kids. Hubs is awesome. I have friends and family and all that great stuff. My family isΒ not financially wanting and we have all the material things we need.

So what is it? What’s wrong with me? Why am I not … happy?

For a while now, despite following my own tips for managing depression during the holidays, I’ve been having a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. My kids have been annoying me. I have been irritable and sad and wanting to be left alone.

I just haven’t been feeling like myself.

So one particularly bad morning last month, I popped half an antidepressant. For most people, SSRIs take a while to kick in. Sometimes weeks. For me, not so much. I feel better within hours.

And as expected, after taking that pill I felt better. I felt like me.

Since then, a few times a week I’ve been taking half a pill. And the days I do, I feel – well, happier. Less negative. More able to enjoy life.

I worked for so long to wean myself off SSRIs. And then I was off them for three months.

But maybe that time is over. Maybe I need them again to feel like me. To be happy.

And if that’s the case, so be it.

Because I want to enjoy my kids. Not be annoyed by them.

I want to feel accomplished when I knock off to-dos from my list. Not feel defeated over what I didn’t get done.

I want to appreciate all that I have. Not worry about what I can’t control.

As far as I know, this life is the one chance I get. I don’t want to spend it feeling down, negative, and sad.

I’ll keep working at this being happy thing. I’ll exercise and eat right and do all the things I’ve been doing to try to feel good.

And if my brain needs a little help in the form of antidepressants, I’m not going to beat myself up over it.

My resolution is to be happy. And I’ll take all the help I can get.


Are you happy? If not, what are you going to do about it?

Do you have any resolutions for the new year?


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80 Replies to “My 2-word New Year’s Resolution may sound simplistic. But it’s not.”

  1. Thank you, as always, for your honest and revealing posts. My hubs asked me the other day if I was happy, and I had to think about it as well. Never a good sign. If you don’t mind, I’m going to steal/share in your resolution for 2013! Here’s to happiness! πŸ™‚

  2. One of my goals this year is to laugh more. Seriously. It sounds stupid, but I just feel like I don’t laugh enough. I’m always trying to plow through whatever I have to get done that I don’t look up enough and take a breath. So…laugh more…those are my two words. Big hugs!!

  3. Anti-depressants are a fine line. I think your approach is good. It shouldn’t be about wanting to be on them or off them, it should be helping you feel like yourself and definitely feel happy.

    I am not much of a resolution person, but I’m definitely taking stock and thinking about how I want things to go for the next year. I think 2011 was so rough that I just figured 2012 would be nowhere but up. It wasn’t. So I’m just going to roll with it this year and try to learn a little. πŸ™‚

    1. My 2011 was pretty rough, too. I hear ya. I had similar thoughts about 2012 – figuring it could only get better. And it did – Grace FINALLY started sleeping through the night in April that year. Which meant I slowly started feeling human again…

    1. Thanks, Christie. 2011 was a loooooong road for me. 2012 was better. Here’s hoping 2013 is kickass!
      PS – I’m so intrigued by your post title – heading over to your blog now!

  4. Another great post. I can relate to having a great life, but not always feeling as happy as I think I should. I definitely want to work on the irritability this year! I want to focus on enjoying my three crazy kids instead of being overwhelmed by them.

    1. Thanks, Rose! I, too, am trying to enjoy my kids instead of being overwhelmed by them. Well put. It’s hard in the heat of the moment, when surrounded by laundry and dishes and general chaos, huh?

  5. Well, hon, you know how I feel about this one. I didn’t take my Lexapro the whole month of December, and I had the same feelings you described – annoyed and short with everyone, just leave me alone. When I’m on it, I definitely feel calmer and more Zen, but I really want to try to find that feeling for myself. I need to make a lot of changes this year. But if it doesn’t happen, I’ll be back on them!

    1. I hear ya, Kathy. I hear ya. I have been trying to make changes – eat well, exercise, etc. etc. – but damn, it’s hard with small kids around. I feel like if I get 30 minutes to myself, I sure as hell don’t want to spend it on a treadmill, you know? Sigh.

  6. I have gone on and off SSRI’s many times over the years. The last time I was suicidal and I decided that was it, I was done playing games. I need the meds, and you know what? I’m OK with that. Depression is my illness and I need my meds like a diabetic needs insulin. Truth is, if taking one little pill every day can help me to have a happier life and my kids to have a better mom, to me, it’s a small price to pay for all of us as far as I’m concerned.

    1. Liza, I totally agree. Completely. One commenter said to me once, “If you had a heart condition, you’d take meds. This is no different.” I think it’s the societal stigma that makes it feel different. But it’s not.

  7. JD, I know where you’re coming from. I have tried to wean myself off Lexapro twice, and both times I decided that I needed to be on it. I decided there was nothing wrong with it. When I’m not on it, i’m weepy and snappy and more anxious. Whenever I find myself on edge, it’s usually because I’ve skipped a few days of my meds.

    If you need to pop a pill to “be happy,” go for it. In fact, I call mine my happy pills.

    Good luck with your resolution. Being happy is a lofty goal—one that many people don’t know how to achieve. But you do, and you will.

  8. Thank you for sharing your honest feelings, it helps the rest of us join in the real conversations that must be shared between moms. We are all just trying to do our best…and maybe, just maybe find some happiness in our world.

  9. There's nothing wrong with taking prescribed medication to feel like your best version of yourself. There are two people very close to me that I wish understood that. Happy New year to you and I hope you make your resolution happen:)

  10. There is nothing wrong with taking prescribed medication to make you feel like the best version of yourself. There are a few people in my life that I really wish understood that. Happy new year to you and I hope 2013 proves to be a happy year!

  11. I am not happy. I am the most unhappiest of all the unhappies. OK, wait, not ALL of the unhappies. Most of them. The majority of the unhappies: I am them. BUT. I have no intention of remaining there. I am going to find the happy this year and beyond. It showed itself to me a few times in 2012 because I allowed myself to realize I deserved it, that the happy wasn’t a fluke. I just have to remind myself, that’s all. Oh, and stop with the vodka. And tequila. Shit. Happy is hard, yo.

  12. I was diagnosed with depression almost 10 years ago, but after the most severe episode of depression, and then entering a 10 day program at a depression treatment center, it was discovered that I have Bipolar II. I'm now under the care of one of the best psychiatrists in the nation, am seeing a therapist and am starting to learn to navigate the waters of this thing.

    I try to approach this with humor. (The ringtone on my meds reminder is Ozzy's "Crazy Train" and I don't call myself "mentally ill", but "mentally interesting.:) And sometimes, humor *is* the best medicine.

    1. Good for you, Andrea. What a great attitude you have! I'm truly impressed. And humor helps, for sure – it's why I try to balance my writing about depression with humor. We can't be blue all the time – that's no fun for anyone!

  13. “I have been irritable and sad and wanting to be left alone.” Um, that’s me for all of the Christmas break & my kids just don’t seem to get it (and I’m already on meds). But meds don’t work for me like sending my kids off to school does. So I’m feeling better today.

  14. I feel EXACTLY the same way…except I am already on Zoloft. I take a lot of comfort from your post, knowing I am not alone. Last year I bought a “happy” light, ( I am not a paid sponsor πŸ˜‰ ) and that seemed to help me, must be time to get that thing out here in michigan. I beat myself up and always ask “why don’t I feel happy?” I have a great husband 2 awesome but challenging boys, etc etc etc. my resolution is to look more at the big picture versus getting sucked into the negative thoughts. And just “be happy” !

    1. The happy light! A friend of mine just told me about hers and how well it works. I think I am going to pony up the cash and get one.

      If you don’t feel better, definitely talk to your doc. Might be time to adjust the Zoloft dose. That happens to me.

  15. I am right there with you. I like how I feel on SSRIs so much better, but am currently not on anything. I usually get frustrated by the side effects and give up, but I would just love to have a better quality of life. Nothing brilliant to add, but I so appreciate your honesty–and you’re not alone!

  16. Oh girl. I feel ya. I’ve been on and off with the whole medication thing since after my son was born and I had major PPD. I also have rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. I have to take medication for those two things, and as they both affect my mood–I stick with antidepressants as well. There is nothing wrong with treating symptoms so that you can have a better quality of life. Here’s to being happy in 2013!

    1. Yes, I knew you had RA and fibro. I have a local friend who deals with fibro. I’m sorry that is something you have to deal with. πŸ™

      Yes – we need to treat symptoms to live a happy life. Absolutely!

      Be well, HillJean!

  17. It’s important to take a personal inventory from time to time, and the new year is as good a time as any. I’m glad for you that you’ve found the right meds to help you be yourself, and that while you may not need them all the time, they are available when you do. To be happy is the best resolution I’ve heard thus far!

    1. Hi Shell. I know you’ve been in a funk from your posts. Have you talked to your doc? Had your thyroid checked and all that? Talked about the possibility of depression? Obviously no need to answer these questions – just wanted to bring it up in case you hadn’t thought about it. I hope you are feeling better…

  18. Wow, I could write a book in response to this one… I won’t. I’ll just say that 1) “Happiness” is a lot less of a firework display than we are sometimes led to believe and 2) I think you are right to accept yourself for who you are — life is short, and if you need a few pills to make the most of it, well… there are worse things. Way worse things. Good luck. xo

  19. Glad to see I'm not alone. I weaned myself off of the meds over the holidays. Not really by choice but because we just didn't seem to have the money for them. I have been on them for 2 1/2 yrs for PPD. I am a bit snappy with everyone but I'm not getting the overwhelmed feeling but it's just the start of winter. I think being honest with yourself that you need something is a much better way to live than to struggle with day to day living and being miserable. I pray that you can find your "happy" again on a regular basis.

    1. I'm seeing a great herbalist in howard. She offered some changes in diet and herbs that are really helping my lyme disease. Let me know if you want to talk about it…

    2. Thanks so much, Kirstin. I hope you continue to feel good. As Jennifer mentioned, all-natural solutions can help too. BTW – feel free to message me if you want to talk about financial solutions for SSRIs – I found a few resources for another mama in a similar situation. And be sure to check out for support, too, if you haven't yet. It's a great site. Be well!

  20. I love my Wellbutrin. It makes me sane so I can be a semi-less-than-evil Mom. Not a damned thing wrong with that. We aren't living in the 19th century, and the assumption that there's something wrong with taking the drugs that will help us feel better (physically, emotionally, whatever) is just screwed up. Yes. Take your meds if they help!

  21. I am SO with you on this one! I realize now that I have some severe depressive tendencies – I probably should have been on some kind of treatment for a while now. I have found if I exercise enough, it helps a LOT – and since my daughter was born 4 months ago, I've been managing to keep the depressive episodes at bay with continual bursts of endorphins. I know that most likely won't hold me forever, but I'm going to use this as long as possible – and then this time when it isn't cutting it anymore, I WILL get some antidepressants (why did I never before?) But, now, with a kid, I will try everything to make sure I am my best me. Good resolution!

    1. It's amazing how much exercise can help. I hope you keep feeling well. And don't hesitate to talk to your doc if you don't feel better – PPD can sink in months after giving birth. Be well!

  22. There’s nothing wrong with taking antidepressants when you need them – any more than there’s something shameful in taking Tylenol when you have a headache. Depression is a chemical imbalance, not a sign of weakness. Be well!

  23. Just found your site based on this post, and I can sooo relate. Everything you said is me to a tee. I realized, in a panic, almost all the way through my holiday break that the reason I felt so grumpy, irritable, and worse UNGRATEFUL was that I had been off my meds. I take a low dosage, but it makes all the difference. I panicked because I realized my prescription was out, and I needed to see the doctor, then order from a new pharmacy provider through work. That’s an extra 3 weeks at least. Luckily, I found a bottle from a previous prescription. Within a few hours, I felt sooo much better. Though I hate to take them and admit that I don’t like needing them, it is UNFAIR to my children and my family to not be the happy person I know I am.

    1. Mica, I’m so with you. I really wish I didn’t need the meds. I wish I could be just … happy. It’s unfair to ourselves, too, to live an unhappy life. So meds it is! πŸ™‚

  24. I’m torn here. I was on Zoloft (on/off) for ten years. I recently got off it in an overall effort to get back control of my body. I was overweight, tired all the time, felt “dead” emotionally, and was just sick of everything – all while on Zoloft and birth control. Once off Zoloft and BC, and after changing my diet, I’m laughing again like I haven’t in years! I’m also weepy at times and snappy as well, but I’m quicker to see what it is and shut it down, asking for forgiveness as needed. I’m still working on it, but I really want to try this w/o meds for awhile. I love to laugh, and I found that Zoloft didn’t just suppress the depressive feelings – it suppressed ALL the feelings. Does anyone else experience that, or was there some weird interaction that I had with it?

    1. I do know what you mean about the meds dulling emotions. I felt that a bit. When I initially weaned off Celexa I felt lighter. Just, lighter. It’s hard to explain. But eventually the depression came back. And so back to the meds. I am on a very low dose, every other day, and I am not experiencing the dullness again. Perhaps if you find you need the meds again, your next experience will be different. Best of luck to you – I’d love to know how it goes!

      1. Thanks for replying, Honestmom. I didn’t expect anyone to answer me because I was the only one with a different view. I really appreciate your taking the time. I totally respect anyone’s decision to take meds if it helps, and I may end up back on them, but I truly wanted to remember what it was like without them. It’s been about 6 months, and honestly, it’s been a mixed bag. I was on BC to control symptoms of endometriosis, and the pain has returned with a vengeance. I may have to go back to that. My husband has been concerned about my mood swings, but I’m trying to give it a little more time. I’m working on coping strategies I didn’t have when I got on Zoloft 10 years ago. We’ll just have to see. I’m not going to say never again, but I just want to give it a shot. Thanks again for responding, and good luck to you!

  25. Good for you, JD! I’m so glad you aren’t beating yourself up over getting the little boost you need. Science exists to help us, so why not?! SSRIs sure worked for me when I was at my lowest a few years back. I remember that feeling of being so annoyed with my kids and so defeated by not finishing those to-dos. Hang in there honey. I will keep my fingers crossed that you feel better soon!

    1. Thanks, Leslie. I appreciate your kind words. I am feeling better. Still not 100%, but definitely better. πŸ™‚ I think the holidays being over is helping – all those to-dos really upped my anxiety, that’s for sure!!

  26. you should all consider the book/website, The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. It is a guidebook to how to make your life better for your whole family. Start it now if you can since it begins in January (just a little OCD), but it doesn’t matter really. Good luck

  27. Hi Honest Mom,

    Thank you for this honest post!

    I found this post via one of Jen PIWTPITT’s pinterest boards, but today I logged into the email address associated with my blog and you commented on one of my posts! Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. Happy writing and much luck with your New Year’s goal. You deserve to be happy!

  28. Have you read this:

    Also: Good for you. I sadly had to increase my dose of SSRI’s, and that wasn’t cutting it, either. So now we’re adding birth control (NuvaRing) in hopes that will level out my hormones and ease my irrititability. Let’s hope that it works! I wanted to be on no meds, not more, but if this will keep me from wanting to kill myself and my family, well, I’ll do it.

    1. I hadn’t seen that article – I’ll read it.

      I know you struggle with the irritability, too. Let me know how you’re doing. I can’t do birth control b/c of my stroke risk. I wish I could – for more than one reason!

  29. I know it’s not as easy for you as I’m going to make it sound (only for lack of situation-appropriate vocabulary), but I really wish taking an SSRI once a week, or even once a day, every day, would make me feel like “me” the way you describe it. Even though I don’t want to, I take an antidepressant every day, and I am still striving to feel like myself.. and have been for years. I’ve tried going off them, only to feel the benefits of starting back up on them.. no luck.

    I really related to your “It’s been five years of battling depression. And I’m really, really Tired” article.. more than I thought I would. It was very helpful to read such an article, and I thank you for that πŸ™‚

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