Happy and Depressed

Can you have depression and be happy?

Yes and no. This isn’t going to be confusing at all, no worries. I’m constantly wondering if those who have never suffered from depression think depressed people are sad or supposed to be sad all the time? I have Major Depressive Disorder and it’s treatment resistant so it’s really hard to keep at bay BUT I consider my life a happy one even when I’m experiencing a depressive episode.

Why? I live a good life. I have an awesome family. I talk to my mom and dad everyday and tell them I love them. My friends crack me up and I spend a lot of my day texting or messaging them. I love to laugh, although it’s been characterized as more of a hearty guffaw. I truly love my life and consider myself beyond fortunate.

BUT JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE NICE THINGS OR LIVE A GOOD LIFE DOESN’T MEAN CAN’T BE UNHAPPY – look at Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. These are two examples of celebrities who “had it all.” Sorry to burst your bubble but depression and other mental illness don’t give a shit about what you have or don’t. They comes for anybody.

The problem with me is that my damned brain keeps telling me I’m sad – very sad – and you can’t always fight that. Depression is a disease and a deft liar. At its worst it tells me that my family doesn’t need me (they do). It tells me that I’m worthless (I’m worthy) and that I won’t ever feel better again (I always do). But it’s exhausting constantly fighting those thoughts and eventually you start to give way to them. Getting out of bed becomes hard, brushing your teeth is hard, breathing is hard.

Fortunately, what’s not terribly hard is taking care of the kids, even through it seems unsurmountable during an episode. It takes a crazy amount of energy and a lot of pretending that I feel ok but the kids help my tune out the ugly thoughts, preventing me from showing them the sad side of their mama. They’re just too young to see and understand. Luckily, my mother-in-law is on standby and the kids love going to play at her house, so they might see Grandma a little more during the dark days but that’s fine – I’m giving my mother-in-law time with her grandkids and my kids the chance to make memories with their grandma, something I always cherished as a child. And I know they’re taken care of. It’s ok to take some time for you and for self care. Always remember that.

Every single time my little ones are at Grandma’s (and we’re talking a couple hours to a sleepover) I’m ready for them to come back home. They make me happy. And a little crazy, but mostly happy.

 

So, I’m not sure if this makes sense but yes, you can be happy while being depressed. I’m not always glum, dark and morose. The depression doesn’t go away but there are brief respites when the light breaks through and living is not so hard. For me anyway.

I’m lucky to experience those respites as much as I do; some aren’t as as lucky. And I’m especially lucky when it comes to the support I’m given and the resources I have for my depression. You would be surprised how expensive (medication, talk therapy, alternative therapies, etc) it is and how hard it is to find truly good doctors who can meet your needs. But again, I’m lucky. I just happen to have unruly neurons.

 

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