Get the Joy Confetti Back


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.