I know that my written blogs seem to always be on the darker, more serious side, but I do actually have a happier, lighter side. That’s the side that usually presents itself more often in my life, and most people in my real life know me as a happy person. One of my colleagues (who had known me for a while by this point) said to me once, “You sound like Santa when you laugh.” At first, I wondered if she meant I was a fat, old man, but then it dawned on me that my laugh was jolly. And it is. If I get laughing hard, it comes from a deep place within me.

I go through phases in my life, it seems, and the transitional times tend to make me more serious. Right now, I am going through that with coming out of my depersonalization, and that’s okay. More serious times happen in anyone’s life, and if they tell you otherwise, they are probably lying.

One of the good things that has come out of depersonalization is the ability to appreciate the small moments. At first, when I felt happy and would laugh, and that feeling connected inside me, it felt very foreign but very good at the same time, and as the moment moved on, and the feeling did too, it made me long for that again. The happiness, the joy seemed to walk on by to someone else for another moment like that in their own lives. And that was a very difficult thing to deal with.

As I adjusted back to having emotional connection again, whether this was for a few seconds or for hours on end, it grew more comfortable to let the feeling go when it was done. I started to feel very much more normal.

I do have a great sense of humor. Last year, within the first few days we were back in Chicago, we had lunch with my brother Brian, sister-in-law Darcie, and their three kids: Gavin (then 13); Connor (then 10); and Avery (then 5). We were at Culver’s (one of our family’s favorites at the moment), and it was a fun family time as usual.

The discussion swung around to what the kids wanted to do when they became adults.

Avery came up with a million things she wanted to be, as kids do that that age. I think hairdresser and astronaut were two choices.

Gavin, being a teenager, wanted to play Fortnite for a living. He was threatening to quit school and play Fortnite all day so he could win millions of dollars in tournaments and get rich that way. I personally try to treat Gavin now more like an adult as he is in that stage between childhood and adulthood, and I remember being that age and getting annoyed when people still treated me like a child. I told him that school was a solid choice and he’d have to do a lot of practice in order to beat other people and win that sort of money, so school was his better bet in that case. He kinda took it on board.

Connor is his father’s child. Like his dad, he’s quiet, kind, and very sarcastic. Connor picked up on Gavin’s vibe, and like any good brother should, he turned around and said he wanted to work at Culver’s. Not that there was anything wrong with working at Culver’s, but I could tell he was pulling our legs. So I pushed back a little bit and gave in.

The funniest part of the whole ordeal was Connor was getting a refill and didn’t see me behind him. I went up next to him and said, “Sir, we only serve Pepsi products at Culver’s.”

Connor died laughing.

Throughout the trip, this became a running joke, and Gavin joined in as well. It even got to the point where someone was complaining about something, and I turned around and said, “Sir, this is a Wendy’s drive thru,” which was met with a lot of laughter and a bit of parroting throughout the trip and beyond. It was a nice bonding experience for us and a lot of fun as well.

A thing Noel and I do sometimes when we watch Netflix or a movie or something and get into a silly mood is come up with as many puns about something we see as possible.

For example, the other day, we were watching a program where a chef was born with a deformed arm, and we came up with lots of phrases, like, “You got to hand it to him, he’s a great chef.” It provides us with a lot of amusement and laughter.

My brothers and I have always had these moments of hilarity. From what I’ve heard from a few of our friends (theirs, mine, ours) who knew us growing up, we always seemed to be a bit of a comedy act at times.

One time, Brian, Jeremy, and I were in the front yard at Brian’s place, seeing a good friend of Brian’s from our Saint Paul and his Prospect High School days. At a lull in the laughter, the friend said basically that he always loved our humor and the way we bounced off one another. Even after all the years since we’d been in school, he continued, it was nice to see that we three were still the same funny guys we always had been.

Something I find easier to connect to now that I’m almost through depersonalization itself is appreciating brief moments of happiness. It only may be fleeting, but I enjoy the moment for what it is, and then let it go. This has been a very fulfilling new experience. Pre-depersonalization, my mind was constantly three steps ahead of where I was, and I wasn’t present sometimes, so I missed those small moments entirely.

Even in counseling the other day, my counselor said something, and a funny image came into my mind, and I laughed. It was nice to have my imagination back in full swing and flashing a humorous thought, even for a few seconds. It felt like my mind was saying, “This is hilarious. You’ll love this.” Inside joke and all that.

So many of the blogs and articles I have read connected to depersonalization and associated dissociative mental illnesses seem to present the darker side, and I understand this; it’s a very difficult illness to live with, struggle through, and get treated. Sometimes it seems like it iwll never go away, and, for some people, it may be a more permanent fixture in their lives.

I’m very aware that what I post too talks about the darker side and the struggles associated with it, but I’m writing about my journey in the hopes it helps someone else going through depersonalization. I am of the opinion that if even one person feels a little less alone solely because of what I am posting about this disorder, it has made the documenting of my journey and my thoughts all worth it.

There is hope. There is happiness after the struggle.

You need to appreciate those small, bright moments to help illuminate the rest of your life. Trust me.

Writer, blogger, actor, reader, singer, liberal, German, American, Kiwi, gay, Caucasian, educational administrator.

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