I have my occasional pitfalls of unhappiness (usually tied to being overworked and stressed) but I'm a pretty upbeat and positive person, overall. So when I get sad, like really sad, I don't handle it well.
In the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, I was privileged to attend a five-weeks collegiate program for talented Kentucky students. The program was interesting, I met many cool people there, and it helped prepare me for going away to college the following year. However, I was sad pretty much the entire time -- so sad, in fact, that I contemplated suicide while I was there and I struggled to find any joy in the experience. I vividly remember being immersed in these engulfing waves of terrible emotion and I couldn't find a reasonable way to become less sad. I didn't tell anyone specifically how I was feeling -- I didn't want to bring anyone else down during a time where they seemed pretty happy -- and I am grateful that a program administrator granted my atypical request to go home for a weekend during the middle of the program so that I could try to emotionally reset. It was a bad period overall.
In the past 20 years, I have had occasional bouts of what-felt-to-be-but-was-not-actually overwhelming sadness, although their frequency has lessened over time. (I credit my Mirena IUD for most of my emotional stability these past seven years.) Most of my sad days have a specific trigger now, which helps to name the situation, understand it, and frame it as a short-term experience.
I was very sad yesterday. I woke up and learned that one of my former students, someone who was in my first class at MICDS, had unexpectedly passed away. I remember her kindness and friendship toward others, her determination to do her very best, and, when she was occasionally dissatisfied with those results, her determination to work even harder the next time. I ran into her five years ago and she had full-scale transitioned into adulthood. It was lovely to see her and the person she had become. She was good-at-heart and simply way too young to die.
I have lost too many students these past 17 years and it breaks me every time.
I want to curl into myself for the foreseeable future, grieve, and ignore the outside world, but I know that pathway leads to even more sadness. So I will do the actions of someone feeling normal -- go to meetings, interact with family and friends -- and wait to become happy again.