When I was a freshman in college I remember going to this panel about happiness with my roommates. I thought, you know maybe this could be beneficial to me - a young depressed college student. There stood this attractive and bubbly brunette preaching to us that despite every bad thing that has happened in her life, she is happy because she chooses to be. I would be lying if I didn't admit that her statement made me angry, furious even. My roommates thought that this lady was profound in her words and that happy is something that you can choose to be, my roommates also don't suffer from depression.
We discussed this panel in my Honors class the next day. Everyone was talking about how wonderful the speaker was and how powerful the message came across. I stewed in my anger as these people who didn't understand depression continued to preach. Finally it came my turn to speak. I told them exactly what I am writing in this article, happiness is not a choice. I'll repeat this for the people in the back: HAPPINESS IS NOT A CHOICE. I do wholeheartedly believe that this woman was trying to send a powerful message that she believed in, but she was wrong. This woman did not take into account those who have depression or other illnesses that prevent them from simply "choosing" to be happy. There are literally chemical reactions that are not taking place that influence whether or not the dopamine receptors in our brains and functioning properly, but yes lady, happiness is a choice for us as well. Let me just send a quick note to the chemical receptors in my brain that I'm choosing to be happy today, so they better work.
Anger aside, I want the message in this article to be that happiness is not a choice. We simply don't function like that, and to tell people who battle depression that they have to only choose to be happy for it to work is absurd. The anger that it brought me pales in comparison to the indifference that statement has made others feel. As depressed individuals, we already feel like there is something - or a lot of things - already wrong with us. Don't tell us to add another one by making us think that for some reason we can't choose to be happy.
I'll state it again to close this article, but HAPPINESS IS NOT A CHOICE. Battling your depression and other illnesses is a choice. Not giving up is a choice. Continuing on so that one day you can wake up and be okay, that is a choice. That is a choice that I am so proud that you continue to make.
Much love <3