I’ve been short on blogs for the New Year, and I’m not sure why. It’s likely the same reason that I’ve felt inexplicably sad, something that started around the holidays, and has not lifted. That sadness has made me feel more introverted and less excited about the idea of talking to people, especially in today’s world, which seems to have a motto along the lines of “If you don’t have anything happy to say, keep your damn mouth shut.”.

I suppose I have reasons to feel sad, and yet, then again, I don’t. None of my problems are so big that they should cause a frustrating cascade into the world of loneliness and depression. Nothing has happened to make me just want to turn on the electric blanket and hide there until the day comes when I wake up feeling happy.

When I was in my adolescent years, I was particularly moody. I was never difficult enough to cause any real problems, or sad enough that feeling “bummed” got in the way of everything I was supposed to be focused on. Yet, there was this awareness that behind everything I did, even “happy” things, I did not feel like a happy person.

I remember talking to my mother about this, who would constantly hound me about my sad face and hiding away in my room for hours. It was not pleasing to her that I seemed to be doing everything “right”, and yet, I wasn’t a happy person. She would ask what I was sad about, and I’d always say, “I don’t know”. Because, really, I never did. I would feel sad simply because I didn’t feel happy, and I wanted to feel happy. The response was, “That’s immature and stupid. People don’t just feel sad whenever they don’t feel happy.”

I didn’t understand this, because I did feel sad for no other reason than not having any particular reason to feel happy. I never learned that most of the time, emotionally well-adjusted people can feel “fine”, “OK”, and “blah”. There was really no middle state of being for me. It seemed very simple: sadness is what you feel when there’s no reason to be happy or excited or look forward to the future or feel invigorated by some adventure or achievement. Perhaps, biologically, sadness is to me not actual sadness, but how I feel when nothing happens to create that endorphin rush that makes you all excited about life, or something you’re doing, or falling in love, or traveling to a new place, or having a once-in-a-lifetime romance, or achieving something you’ve always wanted to conquer. It is possible that I am an endorphin junkie.

As a teenager, this way of looking at the world earned me a trip to the psychiatrist, to see if I was depressed. My family has a major history of depression, specifically bi-polar disorder, so it was a concern. A number of my aunts and uncles and cousins suffer from it. My mother had a strange ability to detach from her emotions, and make herself feel better with food and smoking, which has contributed to her constant lifetime of yo-yo dieting. My grandfather, who is 90, will tell you that nobody ever promised life would be happy, and the secret to getting by is hard work every day, and two Manhattans at the end of it. My father, whom I don’t know much about as a person, is a narcissist with a temper and pretty dramatic mood swings. The only interest he’s ever had in anyone is the way in which that person can validate him or make him feel happy or important. Needless to say, life in my family wasn’t full of stability and sunshine. So, when my mother asked the psychiatrist if I needed Prozac because I wasn’t happy, he said “No. You’re dealing with a highly sensitive personality who is capable of feeling the emotions of others as if they were her own, and she’s surrounded by negative emotions. You need family therapy.”

My family didn’t do therapy, and it turned out that a treatment for “feeling bummed” was to move away, which I did. Yet, my “moodiness” followed. It was less pronounced as I got older, but I would often feel sad “for no reason”.

An ex-boyfriend, who believed in such things, noticed that whenever I felt sad “for no reason”, a difficult life event or loss would follow. There was always a “something bad” after one of these moods would hit, and he chalked my moods up to the combination of my habit of feeling the feelings of others, and an intuitive, almost psychic nature. He took everything in life pretty seriously, and although I don’t believe my “unhappy spells” are attached to the premonition of something bad happening, it often does seem to have coincidental timing that way.

Last year, while going through my illness, I saw many doctors. Some medical doctors believed there was nothing wrong with me, and it was all in my head. I was anxious. I was depressed. I was bi-polar. It turns out, I was just sick, and anxiety is a common side effect of being sick with something that turns your world upside down.

I went to see a neurologist/psychiatrist, a very intelligent guy who had knowledge of your brain from both a physical and mental perspective, but lacked any ability to bond with patients whatsoever. It was like having Sheldon as your doctor, which turned out to be a strangely reassuring thing for someone who was having anxiety issues that, decades ago, would have been called “hysteria”. (And, strangely, I received the decades-old solution for unhappy women with first-world problems: Valium. ) I asked him if I was depressed. I told him about my habit of falling into moods where I’d feel sad simply because I didn’t feel happy, and that people told me these extremes were not normal. I told him people thought I might have bi-polar disorder, even borderline personality issues. He did a lot of tests on my brain and bloodwork, talked to me, and said “You’re not depressed. You’re very intelligent. You’re anxious because you’re receiving answers that don’t seem to make sense, and being diagnosed with ailments you don’t have. It’s tough to be smarter than your doctors.”

He assured me that all my brain functions were fine, that I was relatively emotionally stable, that I had the right amounts of seratonin, norepenephrine, and dopamine in my body, and didn’t need chemicals to mess with them. I just needed to chill out. He didn’t even suggest I find a therapist to help me work through anything that might be bothering me…not because it wasn’t a good idea, but because I think going to that doctor was like going to see Dr. House for your flu. There was no challenge for him, because I was “normal”.

So, I learned it’s “normal” to feel sad just because you don’t feel happy, and to only feel genuinely happy when something different, exciting, and life-changing was going on. It’s “normal” to be an endorphin junkie who thinks too much and feels too much. Yet, I realise perfectly well it is not normal, because most of those around me are not like that.

I have been sad, and I have some tangible reasons to feel sad. Over the past month or so, I’ve lost some friendships I really valued, and because I care too much about other people, that hurt a great deal. Since November, my circle of friends and acquaintances has seen 7 people pass away unexpectedly, and dealt with a suicide attempt. The nation has dealt with the shock and tragedy of realising you can go into a public place, and not make it out alive, simply because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I didn’t have the time, money, or good health to spend the holidays with friends and family elsewhere. I didn’t have any of those people wish to visit *me*. I spent the holidays feeling forgotten, unloved, insignificant, and generally sorry for myself. I’ve wondered why it is that people don’t like me, why I am so temperamental, why I am moody, why I get attached to people when I know I shouldn’t, why I trust people despite the two million reasons I have not to, why I feel peripheral to the lives of everyone around me. I’ve spent time wondering what happened to all the endorphins that made me want to dance around my house every time I thought of the exciting possibilities life had to offer. Am I now so old that possibilities and spontaneity and unforeseen romance and unplanned adventure are no longer meant to be facets of my life?

There is, of course, the possibility that I am just SAD. I am greatly deficient in sunlight and Vitamin D, two indications that I may have Seasonal Affective Disorder. I’ve always been SAD in the Winter, but learned to overcome it by traveling and filling my life with friends and parties and fun. This year, that didn’t happen. I didn’t travel. Christmas Eve, I fought with my boyfriend and ended up in tears. Christmas Day, I spent with people I barely know. New Year’s Eve, I was in by 9 PM, and fought with my boyfriend and cried until 11:45, when I watched Times Square and wished I was there…the same way I did when I was a little kid who longed for a bigger, more exciting, more glamourous world.

Maybe I am sad because I still wish for those things, and despite all my worldly adventures, I never found them…at least not in a way that allowed for both adventure and security, for being free AND having close relationships with people in my life. But I think that I have allowed my world to become too small, and while some of my limitations are of my own creation, it doesn’t mean I like feeling limited. It is hard to find friends and family who understand, because most people don’t have that same sort of restless and curious spirit that I do, one that’s always looking for new ways to “feel alive”.

There’s a certain feeling I get every time the car or bus or plane allows me to see the skyline of a major city, especially if I’m there to visit people I care about and wish I could see more frequently. It is something I don’t feel often, but it’s akin to the same feeling I’d always have before stepping onto a stage and seeing a room filled with people. It says, “This is the real you, the one that feels alive and energised and ready to take on the world.”

I want *that* feeling more often, and I suspect the lack of that is what makes me feel sad “for no reason”. I have always had a spirit that wants something bigger than my life, that wants epic romance and adventure and stories I will tell for years to come. It may get me into difficult situations, it may make me impulsive and irresponsible, it may make me a horrible person with whom to attempt a relationship, it may turn my world upside down now and then…but I really like it, and I don’t have that in my life here, not too often.

I think I need a partner-in-crime who thinks and feels the way I do. All of my friends are far more “settled”, far more introverted, far less likely to embrace the unknown. There are too many things I don’t do anymore, simply because I don’t have the people around me to do them with—and, well, I miss that, too. This isn’t New York or London, where you can simply get on a train and have your own adventure. Here, you need cabs or a driver to go anywhere, which is expensive, and even if your friend wants to go out, you can’t just drink and dance all night long because you can’t get home without a car. Perhaps if I lived back in the city here, I’d be a little happier, which is a goal I’d like to see happen in 2014. Perhaps I just need more money, because this is the sort of place where being financially self-sufficient means you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, because you can afford to have a driver take you.

Yet, somehow, I just don’t know. I know I am a city girl who has been stuck in a small town for too long, and I am independent spirit who has been too reliant on others, yet simultaneously felt too alone, for too long. I can’t even pick up and travel for the weekend, something I once enjoyed doing, because being abandoned by my roommate means I have no pet sitter…and I simply can’t afford pet sitting whenever I don’t want to be at home. I hate the feeling of “limitation”. If there are excitement endorphins left in my system, the burden of obligation quickly squashes them.

So, I have not been blogging because I’ve been sad. Also, every time I open my mouth, I seem to make a new enemy, so it’s safer just to talk to myself.

I want to have an adventure. In fact, this year, I wanted to have 12 of them. I don’t know if I see that as a possibility.