Get the Joy Confetti Back

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Megan Gahan -Joy Confetti3

This past January, Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about a practice she does throughout the year. At the end of each day, she takes a bit of paper and writes down the happiest moment of her day. Then she drops it into her aptly named “Happiness Jar.” Every darn day. No matter how crappy the last 24 hours have seemed, she finds one moment. I looked at the Facebook photo of her holding an enormous jar half-filled with hundreds of tiny squares—or “joy confetti” as she endearingly called it—and was inspired to fill my own capsule.

Megan Gahan -Elizabeth Gilbert -Joy Confetti4

I could just picture myself sifting through my memories on December 31st, basking in the moments 2017 had gifted me with.

I dug out an old jam jar, determined to fill it with a rainbow of precisely folded notes. Over that first month, I made excellent progress. Lime green and raspberry pink and electric blue tiny squares jumbled all together like the joy confetti I had been promised. It was easy to find at least one snapshot of life worth capturing. Some days, I would even fill out a few notes, not being able to choose between the moments of loveliness the day had brought.

January, I filled my jar up a quarter of the way.

February, another quarter.

Then March came.

And my jar went dry.

After overcoming postpartum depression a year ago, my all-consuming fear was that it would return. I no longer entertained any delusions that I was immune. I knew I wasn’t. I knew it could come for me again, and it would come swiftly and devastatingly, just like it had the first time. The only thing I clung too was that—since it was technically postpartum depression—if I didn’t have another baby, it couldn’t get me.

Unfortunately, my completely unscientific theory was incorrect.

I should have known when I started snapping at my kids more. When I began picking fights with my husband. When all I wanted to do with any shred of spare time was sleep. When spilled cereal caused me to burst into tears. When the small things felt like big things, and the big things didn’t matter at all.

I should have known when I was unable to fill out one measly note for my jar. When I couldn’t come up with a single moment of light. When I stared at my dormant jar and my stack of Post-Its and felt nothing.

I had nothing to offer it.

It wasn’t until my brain began to be invaded by frighteningly dark thoughts I got scared. I knew I was circling the pit. The desolate, isolated pit of depression that appears impossible to climb out of when I’m in it. The place devoid of hope. The place where I feel inhabited by a person I don’t recognize. The place where I become disconnected from every beautiful thing in my life. I spent a year and a half in that pit. And I was terrified to go back.

I woke up to the warning signs a second before it was too late. I asked for help with my kids. I scheduled things in my calendar that spoke to my soul. I slept. I spent time alone. I talked about it openly with safe people in my life. I talked to God about it. And I began to slowly claw my way back from the edge of the pit.

Today I filled out not one, but two raspberry pink Post-Its. I smiled as I scribbled them, folded them carefully, and dropped them into my jar. My contributions to it are still spotty, but I’m able to find something small and sparkly most days.

I know I’m not going to end 2017 with a jar overflowing with notes. I want to so badly. I want to mark all the confetti-like moments. But what good is a good life if I can’t even see it? If I can’t even find those glimmers of light in my darkness? So my happiness jar has become something far more essential for me than a nice practice. It has become my barometer. My siren song. My warning bell that I am getting close to the edge of the pit, and am about to free fall. The frantic red flag that I need to stop everything. Get some help. Practice self-care.

And do whatever it takes to get the joy confetti back.

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Megan Gahan
After over a decade in the fitness industry, Megan now spends her days chasing two pint-sized tornadoes disguised as little boys. By night, she is a writer and editor for SheLoves. A proper Canadian, Megan can often be found in the woods or at Tim Hortons. She writes at megangahan.com.
Megan Gahan
Megan Gahan

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  • Melaney G Lyall

    Oh Meg, thank you for sharing your holy story. there is such beauty in your vulnerability… thank you!!!

    • Megan Gahan

      I so appreciate your loving encouragement Melaney! Thank you so much <3

  • I have a gratitude journal that performs a similar function — especially the warning bell. When I can’t think of a single thing to be thankful for in this blessed/privileged life of mine, I know that I’m in trouble. As I scrounge for and pen a truth about God or force myself to notice and record the amazing aroma of my morning tea, I’m also reminded to pray for my sisters who suffer from depression that won’t be fooled by any amount of confetti or red flags or mindful practices at the edge of the pit.

    Thanks, Meg, for being 100% Meg in this space.

    • Megan Gahan

      Thank you so much, Michele. You always show up for me in this space, and it makes me feel safe when putting my truth out there! Sending you so much love <3

  • Stephanie Cater

    Megan, I love your words. You write with an honesty and integrity that speaks to my soul. Every time I read one of your posts, I wish that we lived a little nearer so that we could sit and drink tea and set the world to rights.

    • Megan Gahan

      Goodness, I feel the same way Stephanie! I’ve been thinking of you so much these last few weeks, particularly with the horrific events in Manchester and London. Thank you for continuing to see the goodness in this world, and working so tirelessly for it. Vicariously sipping tea with you on the other side of the world!

  • Meg, thanks for this. It spoke to me on so many levels but this is my biggest takeaway: I can start again. I started this year with so many great thing and I did them really well. And then April and May happened…. End of tax season + end of school year threw off my rhythm. Just yesterday I though, “well, that’s it. I’m never going to do a prayer journal/bullet journal/whatever again.” It’s not even halfway through the year!! I need to remember to keep filling that confetti – it’s never too late.

    • Megan Gahan

      I really love what you’re saying here, Annie. I do the same thing around this time of year . . I’ve messed up all the big goals by now and it’s so easy to throw in the towel! But then we’re giving up on half the darn year! I’m going to keep up with my joy confetti, you start that prayer journal! We’ve got this <3

  • Stacey Pardoe

    Thanks for these honest words, Megan. I can deeply relate. In the chaos of our transition to the schedule that comes with kids being home for the summer, I find that I’m snapping more than smiling. It’s time to reclaim the joy and start counting the blessings! Thanks for this reminder!

    • Megan Gahan

      Thank you for your kind words Stacey!

  • Wow! Love this. Who would have known that on this month we both have written about our journey with postpartum depression. My story will be on SheLoves tomorrow. I resonate with you my sister deeply. My writing is inconclusive, in the sense of the battle not just happening with my one child but also with my 2nd child and in other ways. There is more to the story. Isn’t there? There always is. But for essays sake, it is a portion. Thank you for pouring out your vulnerable truth-telling heart right here, in this sacred space. I RESONATE with you and through that we are empowered. Thank you.

    • Megan Gahan

      When I read your piece, it felt like you and I were in the exact same headspace going into this month. Your words gave me so much life and support. And at first I thought: “Is it going to weird that our posts are back-to-back?” But now I see what a beautiful thing it is to have multiple days focused on this issue, spotlighting depression, giving words and language to a struggle many are not able to relate to. It is a gift to speak out about this with you. Can’t wait to reread your piece tomorrow! <3

      • That’s so awesome. It is absolutely perfect. I think it is Holy Spirit movement when similar hearts and stories pair into existence at the same time. There is something to be said here and stories that need to be told. Power in truth telling! Much love!

  • Staci

    This is so great!! Thank you for sharing and for your openness and vulnerability with your story of postpartum depression. My mom had postpartum depression and I’ve struggled with isolating and debilitating depression myself. This joy jar is a great idea, which I want to try! I recently started a ‘dream jar’ where I write down my dreams, aspirations, and hopes for the coming year – even seemingly impossible stuff, and at the end of the year see what came to fruition.
    PS. I really like earl grey tea 🙂

    • Megan Gahan

      I love the idea of a dream jar . . .what a hopeful way to go into the year! Thank you for sharing some of your story in this space Staci. Much love (and good tea!) to you <3

      • Staci

        Thank you Megan for responding! blessings to you too!

  • This is so wonderful Megan – your honesty and grit are just gorgeous and speak so deeply to me. I am inspired to start my own joy-jar! I love what this jar represents too – like God in some ways, doesn’t force or cajole or blame but waits faithfully for us until we notice the Joy already present, the Joy waiting to be sought out and savoured. Thank you so much for this much needed reminder.

    • Megan Gahan

      Your words mean so much Naomi! Thank you for taking the time to read and encourage. xx

  • “But what good is a good life if I can’t even see it?” mmmhmmm! I find it is such good practice for me to write things down, and then go back through and see how I’m improving, how God has been faithful, and to remember sweet moments. I love calling it joy confetti!

    • Megan Gahan

      Thank you so much Beth <3