I deal with depression almost every single day of my life. Wait, did I just say that I deal with depression almost day of my life and I host a podcast about happiness? Yep.
Most of us can’t wrap our heads around the fact that you can be a happy, positive person and still deal with depression. It is easy to understand someone being depressed when their life is a mess. It’s understandable to when your life might be falling apart like if you are dealing with financial problems, a divorce, or job-loss. But what if things in your life are fine? What if you are content with everything and you are actually happy?
You don’t hear about this version of depression as much. Trying to comprehend how you can feel happiness and depression at the same time is a wild notion.
Well, this is where I fall when it comes to dealing with depression and my mental illness. You notice that I use the word “deal” with my depression and not “suffer” from depression. I don’t feel as if depression is something you need to suffer from. I have the choice to deal with it and do with it what I want. Is it a miserable experience? Absolutely. I don’t wish it on anyone, but we always have a choice as to how we deal with things that happen to us.
Now, why don’t we hear more about depression occurring in happy people? Well, I don’t think people really understand how happiness and depression can exist at the same time. I know I didn’t. I also know for a fact that people who feel both happiness and depression simultaneously feel like one or the other is a lie. It constantly feels like our mind is tricking us.
To the first point of people not understanding that happy people can also be depressed, it is confusing when you see a happy person appear sad. It is even more confusing when I generally depressed person acts happy. Most onlookers would assume that person is cured or that their depression never really existed. The general stereotype is that someone dealing with depression is sad all the time.
To my second thought, I constantly feel like my mind is tricking me. When I feel happy, I always find myself thinking that this happiness is not reality. It is only a matter of time until reality sets in and the real feelings of sadness set in. It’s almost as if I won’t let myself be happy for long periods of time. I sabotage my happiness at times because I don’t believe it’s reality. The opposite is sometimes true as well. When you feel sad, you may not feel as if that is reality as well. Of course it’s a better situation if that’s the case.
So what do you do if you fall into this category of a happy person dealing with depression? Again, there is no one-size fits all approach to self-help, but I can tell you what I do. I the moments I am happy, I have learned, through speaking with a therapist, to allow myself to be happy. I have learned, and it sounds weird to say this, to accept the fact that I am happy. Accept the fact that it is possible for me to be happy. It’s okay to be happy. It’s okay to show the world that you are happy, even if you have been labeled with the word depression. You will not burst into flames if you smile, laugh, or simply enjoy yourself.
The same goes for the times that I am depressed. I accept the fact that I am depressed. I allow myself to be depressed knowing that it will pass. I make the people around me who know about my depression aware of what I am going through so they know not to take anything I may say or do personally, and I do my best to get through that period of time.
The key in either situation is to acknowledge what you are feeling, accept it, and allow it to happen. The feelings you have in both situations are valid and real. You are no less of a person for having these feelings or showing them.
Create a support system and educate them about what you are going through. If you have to educate them by sending them articles about mental health, etc. or taking them to the therapist with you, do it. You will be surprised how much having someone there who understand and accepts your feelings helps you.