I cannot remember where I read it, but I once read that the only people who know true happiness are those who have experienced true, gut-wrenching sadness, a despair that eats at and destroys the soul. The concept is that those who go through an average life, one with the usual, expected turmoils and joys of life, travel along a gentle wave, like a boat gently rising and falling. Those of us who have experienced deep emotional disturbance or horrific events, however, have fallen so far below that gentle wave that to reach the gentle swell of happiness is a breath of sheer delight.
Awakening from a bout of depression is a feeling that cannot adequately be described. Where everything was once gray, there is now color. Where everything was once either terrifying silence or a deafening rush, there is now a gentle swell in which every sound has a profound sacredness. Where once there was no feeling, now everything is a soft touch. Where once there was no hope, there is now life. I have survived one more time. There is such beauty in that feeling.
That feeling is not mania, for I have experienced mania as well. True happiness is not loud and abrasive; it is not self-indulgent; it is not wild and frenzied. It is gentle. It is quiet. It is reflective. It is beauty in itself. It is a feeling of solidity in a world that is ever shifting. It is the feeling that life can continue, and that I will prevail.
In a way, I am thankful for those moments of despair, for I have known true happiness, true joy, the beauty and calm after a storm. I have experienced a depth of feeling that some may never know. And it is that knowledge of true happiness that sustains me.