By: Naomi Stenberg

My goal for Fall is to stay happy. The other day I sang on a friend’s answering machine. The Fred Roger’s theme song, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.” My friend said, “My God, who are you? Where did Naomi go? You are in such a good mood.” I am in such a good mood because of electroconvulsive therapy.

A year ago, I started the treatments, three times a week for starters then titrating down from that. I have had frequent med-resistant depressions for much of my adult life so not having severe mood swings is new. And it’s even uncomfortable. Since I’m not battling depression much of the time, I feel like I have all this free time on my hands. A friend said to me once, “You have no hobbies.” It’s true I don’t. Not yet anyway. Happy people have hobbies. And I haven’t been a happy person. I love a marvelous poem, titled Happiness, by Jane Kenyon, a fellow bipolar sufferer, now deceased. She says, “There is just no accounting for happiness or the way it turns up.” Happiness, she says is an uncle you’d never met before who flies a small plane. A happiness uncle.  He lands near your house and then goes door to door asking for you until he finds you “asleep during the unmerciful hours of your despair.”

I can’t tell you the number of things I’ve had to cancel because of despair and sudden, even overnight, bipolar depressions. And now I am busy signing up for things that I now know I can attend. The list includes a juggling class. I hope to learn how to juggle with pins. I’m going to a lesbian book club in October and am halfway through a wonderful title. I even accepted an invitation to a garden party next week.

I am not sure who this is. And, apparently, close friends are wondering as well. I’ve always been intense but an intense happy person?

Not hardly. Not even.

I may actually go on a dating site sometime. But I’ll wait a few months for that. I’m too busy being happy.

You are not alone.

Learn more about electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and NAMI Seattle’s ECT Support Group:

Our ECT Support Group is open to anyone who has experienced ECT or who is considering ECT for themselves. It meets via Zoom the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month from 5:30pm-7:00pm.