on one hand, i am rational, and i know what you mean when you say, “don’t be so depressed! choose happiness instead!”
you mean, “it is possible to work oneself into a panic. it is possible to breathe deeply and lessen the panic.”
you don’t mean to come off like an insufferable know-it-all, like someone who is saying, “if i were you, i wouldn’t suffer like you do. you’re being you wrong.”
but that’s what it sounds like when you tell me to “choose happiness”
when you ask me if i have ever tried meditation
do you expect me to say, “no, actually, i have never fucking heard of meditation or yoga before”?
i have found a great solace and comfort in yoga and meditation and, yes, simple breathing and meditation exercises can alleviate some of the pain of living with deep anxiety and depression.
but for anyone reading this who has never suffered a lifetime of tortured suicidal ideation, who has never fought a constant urge to hurt themselves: just think about how condescending you sound when you try to “help” your bright and creative friends with advice like “become happy somehow”.
when i confide in you that i am hurting, that i am hopeless, that i feel like a piece of fucking discarded garbage, there are a lot of things you can say. you can say an infinite combination of things. you don’t have to say that you understand. you don’t have to say that i am not garbage. you can say whatever you want. or not say anything at all.
just do not tell me i should choose happiness.
do not ever tell someone who is suffering that they should simply stop. you would never tell someone with cancer to stop making themselves sick. your friend who is constantly upset is not choosing unhappiness. they almost definitely wish they were like you – someone who could do yoga and suddenly stop being depressed.
i am not one of these dsm people who desperately tries to draw a divide between “real mental illness” and a typical depressive episode experienced by your average everyday typically-not-sad-dude. however, i think there is something to appreciate in the expertise of someone who has contemplated suicide approximately 4,000 times and survived it. particularly when that person seems fairly worldly…
…you can pretty much guarantee that person has heard that they should stop that choosing to suffer.
yeah, come on, guys. just stop trying to kill yourself. just stop hearing voices. just stop allowing the malaria microbe to reproduce in your bloodstream. just stop allowing your cells to mutate and become affected by a carcinogenic environment – what, do you want cancer? well, then! just quit having it.
again, i am not saying that we as those who suffer should just give into our illnesses and stay in bed every day. i am not saying there is no relief. there is relief. i still fight. you still fight, too – even if you’re in bed all day! surviving is fighting, and you are winning. me, too. & tomorrow is another day. i try to do what seems to help, and i try to avoid what seems to make me worse. this brings relief. sometimes it is worse, and sometimes i can help make it better. but there is no cure-all, no panacea, no now-i’m-well.
studies do show that the vast majority of people who seek “professional help” for a depressive episode experience complete or partial recovery within 12 months. those of us who have suffered for ten, twenty, fifty years – we sometimes experience flux and feel even “well” for a while. many of us experience drastic flux and “well” feels magickal, intense, brilliantly well, finally well, perfectly well. for a while.
for a while.
until it feels that same old way again – that nobody cares feeling.
and i spend hours, which becomes days, which becomes weeks, and months, and years, and chunks of decades dedicated to reminding myself, “fuck off with that. people love you. people appreciate you. people like you.”
so to hear you suggest that i should choose happiness means you think i am choosing depression. it means you think i deserve this, in some sense, because i could easily avoid it.
we the sad people of this earth? many of us attempt every single fucking day to not dwell. to breathe. to focus on the good. whatever the fuck shallow suggestion you have, we have tried it all. and plenty you never heard of. herbs, most of us, and medications, and therapies and hospitalizations and “positive thinking” and changing diet and sleep and working and not working and talking about it and not talking about it and magick and everything you never even considered trying because you never had ten, twenty, thirty years to wish you were well.
do not, please, please do not tell your suicidal, your depressed, your bipolar, your anxious, or any of your fabulous mad friends what will fix them.
we are not children who have not yet learned how to transcend small defeats. we fucking know what meditation is. we are suffering, and our overdoses and panic attacks are symptoms. they are symptoms of a sick, fucked-up culture founded on oppression and dishonesty and imperialism and colonialism with no respect for women or queers or crazies or children or poor people . if you want to help us heal, then you will have to ask how.
if someone tells you, “i am sad,” tell them, “i like you,” or ask them, “would you like a hug?” or ask them “can i help?” or ask them, “why are you sad?” – do not tell them that they should choose not to be depressed.