Is depression a choice?
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Health Wellness

Hey, Stop Telling People With Depression To 'Just Be Happy'

Stop thinking you're the cure all to depression.

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Hey, Stop Telling People With Depression To 'Just Be Happy'

One of my biggest pet peeves; trying to tell someone about my depression and only getting back, "Well, just think more positively!".

If it was that easy, do you think I'd still be depressed? Do you think I CHOOSE to think such pessimistic thoughts?

No. It makes me feel stupid and worthless when people think I'm just not trying hard enough, despite the fact I am trying my absolute hardest to be happy in my life.

Depression is such a hard illness to live with daily and I know everyone that suffers from it wishes it was as easy as "just being happy". Not to mention, it completely minimalizes depression. Depression is a mental illness that goes much deeper than just feeling sad.

I was diagnosed with depression about two years ago, but I suffered from it much longer. As someone that struggled every day with it, I can attest to the fact that it feels much worse than being sad. Every day felt like I was underwater with a brick tied to my ankles and no matter how hard I fought, I couldn't come up for air. Depression makes your limbs feel so heavy you just don't want to move them. Waking up in the morning, it takes so much energy to even get out of bed. No matter how much sleep I got, I always feel tired. I never have energy. I could sleep for 12 hours and still take naps throughout the day because sleep is the only way to escape my feelings.

Some days, I don't have the will to eat because it seems like too much effort. So I just go days without eating. Some days I don't have the will to interact with the public in any way. So I skip class and stay in bed the entire day. The days when you feel weighted down by your own thoughts seem almost impossible to get through. But I can just snap out of it, right?

Every day I wish I could just switch my brain and start looking at the world with a "glass half full" mindset. But it is not that easy. There are scientific facts that will attest to the fact that your brain chemistry is different from depression. It is not possible to just wake up and decide to be happy.

But depression isn't linear.

There are some days when I do feel really good and I look at the world in a much more positive light. But then the simplest thing will send me into a spiral. Like walking into class and seeing someone took my seat in my group. Suddenly, I feel stupid and worthless and like everyone is looking at me, wondering why that stupid girl thinks she's anything special. I will cry over things most people see as trivial. I wish I could just brush it off and go socialize with other students, make new friends. But instead, I let it tear me up inside.

Some days, I want to just go off the grid and fade into nonexistence. Some days, I'm on top of the world and feel like I can conquer absolutely anything. My lack of control over my feelings, especially sadness and anger, is scary and isolating. I never know what will set me off and it becomes overwhelming to the point I just want to avoid everything. Day to day tasks will actually exhaust me. I feel like I need a nap after making a sandwich.

And yes, I know I have a great life. I know I'm very fortunate. I know there is really no tangible reason I should feel this way.

Depression doesn't discriminate.

Anyone can be depressed. Rich or poor, healthy or sick, you can still be depressed.

So telling someone that comes to you looking for support with their depression to "cheer up, you have such a good life", will actually have the opposite effect. Yes, sadness makes us uncomfortable and we just want our friends to be happy, but invalidating their depression will do the opposite. Sometimes, we just need to hear "I'm so sorry and I love you".

So please, before you give someone with depression advice, make sure you do so in a validating, loving manner.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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