Depressed People With BPD Can't 'Choose to be Happy'
I have borderline personality disorder (BPD), and I usually cringe when I hear someone say, "Choose to be happy." First I feel angry at the whole world for not understanding me. After I realize that I'm being a victim and blaming others for my pain, I then shift the blame to myself. I punish myself, and think, "It's my fault I can't choose to be happy. Something is wrong with me. I'm defective. I'm not trying hard enough."
Depressed Borderlines Can't Always Choose Happiness
Countless times, my psychiatrist has reminded me that it is not my fault that I am depressed. A few weeks ago I was severely depressed. Someone told me during that time that I need to choose to be happy. I slouched in my doctor's office in tears, unable to bear the weight of my own shame (Feeling Guilty Because You Have A Mental Illness). In anguish I cried, "I want to choose to be happy. I really do, but I can't."
My doctor gently and lovingly said, "Happiness is a choice to people with healthy brains. Your brain, however, is not functioning well because it's depressed (PET scan of depressed brain). You are not able to simply decide to be happy. You work very hard. I don't think you can work any harder. I want you to recognize that and have compassion for yourself. You are a good person." Relief washed over my entire body. I sat up straighter and took a deep breath. Looking into his eyes, which I rarely do, I thanked him for once again telling me that my mental illness is not my fault.
Depressed People With Borderline Personality Disorder Have Other Choices
Choose to End Self-Blame and Self-Stigma
Though I may not be able to choose happiness, there are a few things that I can do that may lighten my burden of having BPD and depression. Most importantly, I can stop blaming myself for feeling pain. The guilt and shame only serve to double the suffering. Borderlines tend to punish ourselves for feeling unpleasant emotions. I want to have compassion for myself. I want to love and accept myself even when I am in turmoil. That is definitely a choice.
Choose Gratitude to Ease Pain
Another choice I can make is to focus on gratitude more often. Sometimes people with BPD can get lost in our emotional suffering, and forget to acknowledge the good in our lives. Some may even say, "There is no good in my life." If you are one who says that, use the statement as a reminder to think of at least one experience, object, person or place that you love, enjoy or have enjoyed in your life.
Though all borderlines may not be able to choose happiness, we are not totally helpless or hopeless. We can make decisions that positively affect our lives.
Don't give up. We can do this.
Lewis, L. (2016, September 7). Depressed People With BPD Can't 'Choose to be Happy', HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 15 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2016/09/borderline-personality-disorder-depression-choosing-happiness
Author: Laura Lewis
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