April 8, 2015

Being Depressed & Choosing to Reach for Happiness Anyway.

Helga Weber/Flickr

Last week I shared a list of quotes that might offer strength and inspiration for when we’re feeling stuck.

In all of them, a theme emerges: The power of choice.

One of the comments to the piece struck me: “Wow. Here is someone who has never been in the throes of depression. I wish it was that easy.”

And how I wish that were true—although my therapist would tell you it’s not.

I’m no stranger to depression, sadly. Or anxiety. Or panic attacks. I’ve had my heart broken many times over the years. Been divorced. Unemployed and broke as hell. Buried a parent. Lived with addiction. Felt completely without hope.

I have, unfortunately, found myself in the fetal position, literally and figuratively, more times than I care to count.

The last few months have been particularly tough, I’ll admit.

I don’t share this to say my life’s been any harder or sadder or weirder than yours. No way. I know better. “Everybody’s got a sack of rocks,” goes one of my favorite sayings.

What hurt me about the comment was that it seemed to suggest that I somehow feel compelled to dispense feel-good advice when I don’t have the requisite, relevant life experience to know what it’s like to feel bad.

That I’m a hack.

A fraud.

It felt like a condemnation of my firm belief that someone can experience all sorts of pain and loss and trouble and worry—and still decide to have a positive outlook about the future anyway.

Because that’s what I believe more than anything.

I believe we can be hurt, we can be confused, we can be scared and turned inside out and depressed as all hell…and that we can still decide to try and be happy. And that it will be ever so worth it.

Of course, it might take some time to realize that happier reality.

It might take weeks or months or years to extricate ourselves from the unfulfilling or stifling relationship; to learn a new skill that leads us to a different job; to break a destructive habit or create a new, healthy one; for the anti-depressants to kick in; for a weak body to grow stronger; for loss and grief to transform into new beginnings.

It might take patience to learn to walk while we’re desperate to run, to understand that we’ve got to build the base before we start layering on, and realize that with progress also comes setbacks.

It might take some time to figure out what the full game plan looks like—or maybe even the very next move.

And there might be days when it all feels so…f*cking…impossible.

But the trying for it all is a choice. The wanting to be happy is a choice. The knowing that you have inside you what it takes to make it happen is a choice.

Believing, no matter what, that you are not stuck is one of the bravest and most exquisite choices a person can make.

That is what I choose.

I hope you’ll choose it, too.



Author: Becky Vollmer

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr


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