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With Major Depression, You're Not Happy

January 13, 2014 Guest Author

We live in a feel-good society, a society in which happiness is valued above all else. We have bookstores with whole self-help sections devoted to finding happiness, keeping happiness, being optimistic. Magazines, from fashion to health, have article-after-article about how to be happy; be happy with your sex life, be happy with your body, be happy with you career. Right now, we just concluded the season of merriment and joy. Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, God bless us every one, and Joy to the World.

Obsessed With Happiness

As someone who suffers from clinical depression, I can tell you, often, I am not happy. In a society obsessed with happiness, I’m far from alone.Happy, happy, happy…we are obsessed with happiness. You must love yourself in order to be happy. You must do a job you love in order to be happy. You must be optimistic. You must count your blessings. You must have God in your heart. You must eat right to be happy. You must get plenty of exercise to be happy.

There are even constant messages about what doesn’t make us happy. Money doesn’t bring us happiness. Power doesn’t bring us happiness. Some experts make you believe that being alone can bring you happiness, while other experts imply you will only be happy when you find that perfect mate.

If You're Not Happy, There's Something Wrong With You

We value happiness to a degree that things and people who are unpleasant or unhappy make us uncomfortable. Seeing a stranger cry makes us want to leave instead of embrace them. Certain topics of conversation are avoided in general conversation. When asked “how are you today?” rarely, is it seen as acceptable to respond with anything less than "okay". People who reject that norm are seen as downers, weirdos, strange.

Maybe, it is just me being a glass half-empty kind of a person, but I can’t help but feel that all these messages imply that if you are not happy, you must be doing something wrong. You must not be grateful enough for what is good in your life. You must be focused on the wrong things. Try looking at the positive and not the negative. You must have low self-esteem. You need to have more faith in God. You need a job you love, or at least enjoy. What about your health? Are you neglecting your health? Try exercise. What about yoga and meditation?

Depressed and Unhappy

As someone who suffers from clinical depression, I can tell you, often, I am not happy. That’s right I said it. I AM NOT HAPPY! Not because I am not grateful for my husband, my kids, the roof over our heads, the food we eat and clothes on our backs. I see all those things as positive and I thank God for them every single day. I am even grateful for the beautiful view of the mountain I have on the way to work, or the fact that cupcakes and girl’s nights exist. (Bipolar Depression Has Nothing to Do With Lack of Gratitude)

It is not because I haven’t found God. Not because I have a crappy diet and don’t exercise enough (though I will admit that does not help.) It is truly not because I hate my job, because I am one of those lucky people who is working a job I really love. And you know what else, brace yourself for this one, I don’t like Christmas.

I am not a scrooge, and my heart is not 3 sizes too small. I am quite kind and generous. I love to watch people receive the gifts I have spent hours finding for them. (And, yes, I will spend hours to find something that I feel is just right.) I adore watching my girls’ light up at the sight of goodies under the tree Christmas morning. I have many, many moments of happiness. Sometimes whole days, or weeks, but eventually the depression always creeps back in and because I felt for so long, that it was something I was controlling, it made me feel really bad about myself, which, in turn, made me more depressed.

I think, especially during the holidays, it is important to know that depression is something you treat (Depression Treatment Options), learn how to cope with, find way to work around, but that is not something you caused. It is just the way your brain works. You are not weird, or a downer. You are you, and you are not alone. Believe me, there are a lot of us out there who are putting on the happy face and saying “Oh I’m doing well, and you?” or “Yes, my holiday was very nice.” When on the inside, we are thinking “I feel awful” or “this holiday is stressful and demanding”.

Lastly, I will leave you with the following thought, I heard an interview, and I wish I could remember the name of the man being interviewed so that I could give him full credit. The man being interview was a scientist and a devout Christian, and the interview was about how he reconciled his belief in two seemingly contradicting ideas. The interviewer asked him something about finding happiness in God, and his response was so profound that it has stuck with me for years now. He basically said that everyone assumes that the goal in life is to be happy, but what if that belief is wrong? What if God is not trying to make us all be happy? After all, when do you grow most as a person, when do you develop the most? Is it when you are happy and full of joy, or is it when you are challenged, forced to endure something that makes you unhappy or uncomfortable? Maybe the goal of this life is to accept our challenges and life lessons, and find happiness in small doses and memorable moments instead.

About the author:

Lauren Eber is a wife, mom, and step-mom living in the sunny south. She was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety at 19, and now wishes to share her years of knowledge, experience, and what life is like when looked at through the cloud of depression. You can find her blog here. She's also on Facebook and Twitter.

To be a guest author on the Your Mental Health Blog, go here.

Tags: happiness

APA Reference
Author, G. (2014, January 13). With Major Depression, You're Not Happy, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, May 9 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/yourmentalhealth/2014/01/with-major-depression-youre-not-happy



Author: Guest Author

Dr Musli Ferati
February, 16 2014 at 1:08 am

This personal remark indicates an instructive massage to everybody; as well as healthy persons and depressed ones.Indeed depression as negative deviation of mood is going in parallel with unhappiness, but the last one as inner emotional sensation might be profoundly disguised by different psycho-social activities. However, our thoughts predict the outermost outcome of happiness vs unhappiness. Therefore, it ought to make effort to create positive ideas in our brain on itself, in order to soften the miserable feelings of depression as common life experience. Moreover, the life has got god things that should observe, even they are few or so rare. It is value to use as pathways to happiness everything that bring us the feelings of merriment. Thus we would bild up the best way to face with depression, either as psychiatric entity or reactive emotional statement.

Cathy L.
January, 27 2014 at 6:25 am

I loved this article. However, I cannot help but feel a tremendous amount of guilt for not being happy while raising four children. How is my unhappiness affecting them? Will they grow up being less enthusiastic about life because they were raised by a unhappy mother? The questions and the guilt are endless...

schristian
January, 27 2014 at 6:52 am

Depression is a pain in the a..! It affects a persons self esteem by making them hold on to their negative thoughts. It is one of the hardest things to learn is to "love thyself first before we can truly love another"It is easy to love others and way too hard to love yourself a young woman told me today and I would like to see her work on loving herself first then maybe her self esteem will begin to grow!

Susan F
January, 16 2014 at 9:37 am

I am so glad to hear someone else challenge the notion that everyone has to be happy all of the time to be "successful" at life. Having bipolar disorder and suffering much of the time through the depressive end of that spectrum I have been made to feel that if I'm not happy all the time then I must be depressed, lonely, or in need of therapy of some sort. I have a sister, who I love, whose goal in life is to be happy 24/7 and feels like a failure if that isn't happening. She worries about me constantly. She hasn't yet accepted that not being happy is part of my life. I can't totally blame her though because I haven't figured out what I have accepted as ok for me either. I have felt that not being happy meant that I had not managed my depression well. Thank you for writing this. It has given me a fresh perspective.

Cindi Coglio
January, 13 2014 at 2:25 pm

Well said and written Lauren! I'm sorry you have to deal with depression. Prior to reading this I would have asked "What can I do for you?". I've never dealt with depression myself or with any friends or family...I'm clueless about the issues. After reading this I think all you need for me to say is "I'm here when you need me, for whatever reason". If I've missed the mark on that, please, please let me know.

Opal Cintron Heese
January, 13 2014 at 11:29 am

Could not have said it better. .....Depression isn't something you "snap out of". It definitely, at times, isn't something you have control over. At other times you are able to cope and as this author, and my friend, points out "grow from the challenge". It's true that we grow as a person and become stronger the harder things are for us. We learn nothing from ease and lack of suffering. Not that I welcome pain, either mentally or physically, but I know that it isn't bringing me all bad things. It is teaching me to endure and also to learn coping methods. The learning of coping methods alone isn't something we are given in this society. It is a valuable life lesson.

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