"Can you just not be sad anymore?"

Sad and depressed are terms that are typically used interchangeably, but do they really mean the same thing? By Merriam-Webster, sad is defined as "affected with or expressive of grief or unhappiness" or "causing or associated with grief or unhappiness." Also defined by Merriam-Webster, depression is "a state of feeling sad." However, the second definition is more of what we associate with the term, telling of hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, and a tough time concentrating, but there is still the mention of sadness. I have never been clinically diagnosed with depression and maybe that's because I have an unhealthy coping mechanism of ignoring every problem I face and crossing my fingers that it goes away on its own, but I can say that I have felt everything that defines depression. Does it mean I am actually depressed? Maybe, maybe not.

On the other hand, I struggle to be happy for long periods of time. I struggle to feel anything. I dig deep within my soul and all I can come up with is empty. At the most, I get exhausted as the adjective that describes me. Too tired to take care of myself, too tired to clean or interact, too tired to even care about the smallest of things. My family sees me as lazy, my friends see me as unreliable. Sure, I do have good days where I have the ability to get up, clean my room, and go out into the world, socializing. I feel completely drained after it though. Empty. My days consist of wanting to go to sleep and eating because I constantly feel as if I am starving. Still empty.

I felt complete joy when my nephew was born, I was excited to spend Christmas and New Year's with my loved ones, but it disappeared quickly. I was a void again. I tried to hang out with my friends, but I was still robbed of my energy. I tested out new hobbies and even tried playing the Sims (which I always have fun with), I was easily bored and still met with nothing. If I feel something, it doesn't last long. One minute I could be jumping up and down at the thought of the new "Avengers" movie and the next I could care less. I have thought about taking my own life and constantly ask myself what is my purpose if I have any at all? I know I have people who love and care about me so why do I feel this way? "Why are you sad?" "Why are you lazy?" Do I need a reason to feel certain things? Does something tragic have to happen for someone to be depressed? Or is it all chemicals in your brain?

I can't explain it, I can't stop it. If I was given the choice, don't you think I would choose to be happy and stay that way? To not be empty? Don't you think I've tried? It's not that easy and I, unfortunately, don't have a switch in my body that I can flick on and off, determining my mental state and my emotions. No one does. I'm sorry that I'm like this, I'm sorry that I'm not fun anymore, I'm sorry I can't be there for people as I once was. If I'm not clinically diagnosed with depression or another mental health disorder, how about the people that actually are? How do you think they feel when you tell them to "just be happy." Imagine your leg has just been severed and someone tells you to stop feeling the pain. You can't, right? You need medicine and time to heal.

While I don't always agree with using medicine with mental health issues as people can become dependent on them, they can do the job for some. Going to therapy or at least talking to someone who understands is a great stride. You may not feel like it, but get out of bed and stretch. Try something you have never done before. Take baby steps. Rekindle the relationship with an old friend. You will not start to feel better once you take action for yourself. Breathe deep and know you are not the only one going through this. You will be genuinely happy again.

If you feel depressed or suicidal, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255. Please remember that people care about you and you do have a purpose in this life, even if you don't know what it is yet.