Finding happiness doesn't require a happy pill. It starts within.
I went off my meds the other week.
I'm done, man. The way I figure it, I'm not crazy or sadder than anybody else. I was just unhappy in my world ten years ago when I got married. I pretty much went straight from the altar to the damn pharmacy. But then the marriage ended and I've started reading a lot of Buddhist stuff. And even though I hear your smirk loud and clear (I get it: I'm just a Barnes and Noble Buddha at best), I've been pretty thrilled with the results. I use my head more these days to get me out of my self-created jams. I walk around thinking about how happy I am even when I'm not f*cking happy at all. It takes a lot of practice, trust me, especially when you're coming off a 20-year-reign of general assholery. But I feel so much better, so much edgier in fresh, clean ways than I did when I was popping a pill every day of my life without even thinking about it.
But here's a throat-punch fact: none of my three kids has ever known me when I wasn't on happy pills.
That dawned on me the other day and it d*mn near made my face fall off. What a strange thing to realize, that my kids have never seen me unmedicated. I've been low dose-doping myself on prescribed anti-depressants through some epic years and it's freaky to admit that to myself now.
Was it worth it?
I'll never know, I guess.
Did it make me a better man or dad?
Again, impossible to say. But I doubt it.
Have I been more subdued or positive these past ten years thanks to my script?
Honest answer: h*ll no. I've been a mess. The same mess that went looking for some tangible form of happiness way back when I was freshly married and touring in a band and frantically uncertain of myself and who I was or who I was supposed to be, back when I was younger and angrier and maybe overly passionate (and probably a bit too drunk). All the things that might not be the worst things to be when you're a dude playing rock-n-roll in your late 20s/early 30s and you're sorting through all the possibilities in your wonderful yet confusing world, but I became convinced those bad habits meant something was wrong with me.
Thus, the meds. Thus, the mist.
I think I wanted anti-depressants to help me with my search for true happiness because I wasn't ever finding it. And that was a problem mostly because I didn't understand that no one else was finding it either. No one. Anywhere. Ever.
True happiness is bullsh*t.
You can't 'win', you do understand that deep down, right? You can't get entirely 'caught up'. And you damn sure won't ever 'get ahead', at least not in all departments at once. The way I see it, if you manage to kickstart two good things in your world at any given time, you're pretty much a Master of the Universe in my book.
But let me try to explain another way, through a list. Because lists are fun.
Things that seem like they would lead to happiness:
1. Your perfect partner.
2. Your flourishing sex life.
3. Your well-balanced finances.
4. Your bright, beautiful kids.
5. Your dream house.
6. Your healthy diet.
7. Your regular exercise routines.
8. Your very dependable car (Subaru).
9. Your other very dependable car (Subaru again? Wow).
10. your handsome well-behaved pets.
11. Your gaggle of cool friends.
12. Your wonderful job.
13. Your health care out the ying-yang.
14. Your interstellar space exploration hobby.
We could go on and on, but be honest with yourself. How much of this list do you truly have? And how much are you still wishing you had? And how much of your life do you alter or bend (or even damage) somehow by trying to get all of these epic pinwheels spinning at once just by using your personal breath for wind?
I ask because once upon a time, I wanted everything myself, too. So much so that when I couldn't make it all happen for me and my wife and kids, I felt like true happiness was mocking me. So I went to the doctor. And he gave me pills. But then I was on them for years and now that I've stopped them, I'm not even sure why I started them to begin with. All I can come up with is that I thought that a pill would make my life better. Or more precisely, that they could and would make me happier.
To make me happier.
And that seems so messed up to me now.
Things are looking up, chap! Keep your chin up, old boy! Don't be down in the dumps! Pick yourself up and climb that ladder, fella!
That's what we're told, in essence, from the moment we're born until the moment we die. They probably even keep whispering that noise into your cold, dead earhole, a little 'true happiness' audio meme for you to enjoy on the Chinatown bus to the afterlife.
They lean in past your dead face, swoop down into your blackest hollows and whisper:
Look, you pathetic excuse for an American Dream, you may be dead, but that's no excuse not to be happy! So get up off of your sad sack ass, take your happy pills and climb that fu*king ladder right there in front of your powdered fat face … that's it, that ladder, the one leaning up against that bright shiny sun 500 zillion miles above you and your lame haircut.
But is there true happiness without anti-depressants?
True Happiness (noun/verb/adjective/hot air): a marketing concept designed to swindle perfectly normal semi-sad humans out of money and energy by using commercials and photos to convince them that what they possess in their lives, mentally/spiritually/physically, is not enough for them to be happy at all. The concept of True Happiness was conjured and born up in some over-lit office by some soulless a*shole with post-apocalyptic Olive Garden-lunch special salad-onion breath.
I think being a little sad (and maybe even a lot of sad) is way underrated. Being sad and blue is a very natural feeling. You could even argue that it's the original emotion because when you try and imagine what life was like for the first humans stepping out of their ape suits and trying to get a fire happening, it isn't hard to figure that they were probably miserable sons of b*tches.
I doubt that early man was happy much. He probably wanted to slam a fat rock into a lot of other early man's idiotic heads. Then he went and ate undercooked hyena butt and farted and burped and stared at the stars and fell asleep not giving a flying fu*k about true happiness or a better life or any of that stuff.
He had his meat, his fire. He had good, semi-rough sex outdoors in the mist of the sunrise. He figured out which seeds made him dizzy and liked that feeling a lot. He had his cave, his little bed made out of dried furs that smelled like sour ass. He didn't dream about the things you and me dream about.
No one told him what to dream about or what to wish for. No one tried to sell him happy pills. He would've just stared at them, a billion years of glare condensed into one single fleeting instant before his face went all disappointed, and he smashed the whole side of their skull in with the palm rock quickness.