“Just think happy thoughts!” or “You have so much to be happy about!”
If you say this to someone with depression, they might smile politely and nod their head but really, they are mentally punching you right in your twat waffle. Please, don’t say this to someone suffering from depression or anxiety. I know you mean well and I know you’re probably really frustrated because it’s not as hard for you to be happy but, it just isn’t as easy as thinking about unicorns and rainbows.
Here’s the bottom line. I want more than anything to be happy. To just wake up, and BE happy. And not just to wake up and be happy, but to STAY happy. If it were as simple as thinking happy thoughts, believe me, I’d be squeezing my eyes tight and thinking about Starbucks, naps, pizza, cake, more cake, baby giggles, Target trips alone, and everything else that makes a suburban minivan mom mentally squeal with delight and all that happiness would be oozing out of every orifice of my body. I would turn into a shiny glittery rainbow princess with extra sprinkles. Sadly, I have tried this and I didn’t turn into a glittery rainbow princess. I just got more irritated with myself.
A friend who suffers in the same way I do, asked me a funny question last week. “Have you always been a Daria?” That’s how I knew we were soulmates. Why yes, I have always been a Daria. The old school version of Grumpy Cat, which by the way, is basically my Spirit Animal.
I have suffered from depression since I can remember. I didn’t always know what it was called or that how I felt was anything other than what everyone else felt, but I knew that I did see the world a little differently than most.
My anxiety and depression peaked when I went away to college. I went days without sleeping or very little sleep. I felt completely awkward and unable to relate to people. I would cry myself to sleep at night when I got migraines because I was convinced they were brain tumors. I ended up in the ER with my poor roommate because I was convinced that my teeth were all loose and falling out. It was a difficult and weird time for me. It subsided enough that I dealt with it and my depression became my norm over the next several years.
This was my norm: Everyone is an idiot. I wouldn’t get SO angry and irritated if everyone wasn’t such a total useless moron. What an IDIOT! I hate this job. I hate this place. I’d be happy if I didn’t have to work here. I’d be happy if I lived somewhere else. Holy shit, these people SUCK.
I broke out of that after moving in with my now husband and moving towards marriage. Here was this guy who was patient and loving and happy and I was being a complete jerk towards him every time I got mad… which was all the time. And not just mad, because everyone in a relationship has little spats, but really really mad. After one particularly nasty fight (nasty on my part), I decided that enough was enough. I made an appointment and hopped on the antidepressant train. It was life changing. After three days, yes, three days, I saw a difference.
I had so many mixed emotions about this new difference. I was in awe of how much better I was at handling stress. I realized that it wasn’t other people, it was my inability to control my anxiety and my emotions. I felt more peaceful. I also felt sad that I had gone so much of my life without feeling this way. The thought of missed connections, opportunities, and happiness.
It was the first time I felt whole and the first time I realized how broken I was.
Suffering from depression is just that. Being broken. You might not agree with me but that’s fine. It’s how I view it. You know what they say about opinions….
If I were a product, I would not pass quality control because I don’t work properly. It’s as simple as that. I malfunction.
As I inch closer to my mid-30’s, it gets a little easier to accept that I have pieces that don’t work properly. I am where I’m supposed to be with the people I’m supposed to be here with. In many ways I could only have gotten here by being broken for so long. So, for that I’m grateful.
However, there are a lot of things that I’m still angry about.
I’m angry about being broken in the first place. I’m angry that I have to be obsessed with my mental health because I desperately want to avoid negatively affecting my children. I’m angry when medications fail and I lose my grip on normalcy and my anxiety and depression put me in a fog where I yell and scream at my children and all I can think about is running away. I’m angry that on those days, I cry at night after the kids are in bed because I’ve spent all day yelling at children who depend on me for love and acceptance. I’m angry when I have to deal with doctors who just see me as a number and throw medications at me without spending more than 5 minutes with me. I’m angry that I have to have an internal battle with myself about my need for medication and if and how it affects breastfeeding. I’m angry when I go through withdrawals between medications because I feel like a drug addict and it makes me wonder what the hell I’m putting in my body. I’m angry when I’m off medication or it isn’t working and I yell or scream and I see the light slightly fizzle in my oldest’s eyes. That last part kills me. Absolutely kills me.
I am angry that I am broken.
I like to think that my children, especially my daughters, will know that I fight and try in every way possible to put bandaids on my mental boo boos every day. I will continue to put bandaids on those broken parts of me no matter how many times they fall off. They deserve the best parts of me. They deserve to have a mother that helps the fire in their eyes burn as bright possible instead of one who causes it to dim.
And as much as they deserve to be happy, I deserve it too.
So no, I will not just think happy thoughts. It’s hard not to get angry that other people think it’s that simple. It is a daily battle and there is no end in sight. Just a lifetime of bandaids holding us together until they fall off and we have to find different bandaids that work.
Just be there. Don’t treat us like we’re broken. Don’t act like our opinions or emotions aren’t legitimate. Just try and understand the inner battle we fight. Be yourself. It’s okay for you to be happy around us.
But please, don’t tell us to think happy thoughts or remind us that we have so much to be grateful for.
We know. We know how much there is to be grateful for. It makes us feel even worse that we can’t “snap out of it.”
Just be there. Honestly. Just be there.