Please Stop Telling Me To 'Just Be Happy,' I'm Trying But It Isn't That Easy

Please Stop Telling Me To 'Just Be Happy,' I'm Trying But It Isn't That Easy

At times, I do feel happiness and joy and then it goes away.


"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.

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30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.

Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

I want to give you the same feeling that you get in paradise.

30. Curious

And I never want to stop searching for answers.
Cover Image Credit: Favim

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The Permanence Of Recovery

Trying to explain what it's like when my brain is louder than my stomach.


I never had an eating disorder.

I say it like that because I didn't. I was never diagnosed with anorexia, or bulimia, or binge eating disorder, or anything else that constitutes a medical resentment to consumption.

A diagnosis would give the issue a name, it would give it a face, which would make it that much more real.

My relationship with food and exercise--and with my body in general--has always been a very complicated thing. I never had an eating disorder, but I never knew how to eat a normal amount and not feel a sense of lingering guilt.

But most days eating always felt like a tug-of-war. I knew that I needed to eat, you know, to survive. The voice in the back of my head eventually became the voice at center-stage of my head. It added up every calorie I took, subtracted every sit-up, embellished my failure when I slipped up. I could never satisfy this voice.

There was always more water to drink, more distance to run, more meals to be stared at and then pushed aside. Sometimes the tug-of-war was just flat out war.

Growing up as a teenage girl in North America, over-exercising and never eating enough is just a part of life. Looking in the mirror and not seeing the human embodiment of an issue of Vogue was grounds for self-hatred. So I recorded everything I ate, tracked every step I took and grew progressively more proud of myself for looking at a glamour magazine.

But humans are not meant to fit in the shiny pages of lifestyle media. I am still trying to learn that. I am learning what it means to not imagine every calorie sticking to my body as if I were made of honey. I know now that it is not normal to make my nutrient intake at the end of each day add up to zero. I am still learning what balance looks like.

The permanence of recovering from living in a state of deprivation is hardly recovery at all. It is work. It is realizing sickness looks different on every body type. It is pushing away the first wave of shame when anything sweet or carb-heavy makes it past your lips. And the second wave. It is living in a world that told you a substantial body is hardly worthy of tolerance, let alone love.

There are little victories. There is a brunch with family or friends. Being so caught up in conversation and the morning's first cup of coffee, with a little extra sweetener, that eating is a breeze. There is fast food after concerts or a night out. So hungry in the middle of the night that you don't even think about reaching for a second taco from the consistently mediocre Taco Bell.

But there are holidays, and birthday cake, another glass of sweet tea, please. Sometimes it's hard not to return to old habits and fall back into the familiar cycle of restriction and denial.

This year and beyond I vow to seek balance. I vow to treat my body with kindness. I want to eat in a way that promotes healthiness, not sickliness, on either side of the scale. I am exhausted. I am tired of the dining hall being the battleground and I'm the one holding the weapon. I am tired of destruction and resentment. This year, I am embracing every curve, every soft whisper, every sigh of relief that I am composed of.

While I am not where I want to be, I am miles from where I started. And that is something to celebrate.

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