Sometimes people are afraid to let themselves be happy when they’re depressed. Like many aspects of depression, this doesn’t make a lot of sense. But that’s the thing about depression- things don’t have to make sense.
It’s not always easy to admit to yourself that you’re depressed, let alone to other people. And sometimes you might feel you’re… hmm. What’s the right word, here… obligated? Maybe? Sometimes you might feel you’re obligated to act sad once you’ve admitted you’re depressed. You might think, “Well I just made a whole big fucking deal about being depressed. I’d better look like it or else people might think I’m just overreacting.”
And okay, that sounds a little bad. It’s not like we’re trying to put on a show for people. But it’s not unusual to have some kind of thought process that might convince you that you need to be sad while you’re depressed.
What a lot of people, including depressed people, often don’t understand is that depression doesn’t always mean you have to be sad 100% of the time. Depression includes a lot of emotions- anger, confusion, fear, and desperation, for example. Happiness, strangely enough, is also one of these emotions.
Just because you’re depressed doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to be happy. As much as it doesn’t feel like it, not every day is going to be spent isolated under the covers. You’re going to be depressed, but some days are going to be better than others. And if you allow it, you might even have a good day. You’re allowed to have good days when you’re depressed. You’re allowed to wake up and be in a good mood. Just as you can become depressed for no reason, you can also be happy for no reason. It’s not a crime, it’s just how things go.
Sometimes when I’m depressed, it’s because I lost something important. Or because it felt like I was making progress in one area of life, and I was so happy about it, only to have all that progress reversed in some way. Sometimes I feel like after spending so much time mourning over whatever happened, it would belittle the situation to allow myself to be happy when I’m feeling better. Something I’m still trying to teach myself is that being happy is part of the healing process. There are different phases in depression, and you’re more than allowed to explore them without feeling like you’re failing at being depressed. You’re allowed to have days when you cry in bed and only leave your room for food and the bathroom. You’re allowed to have days when you finally drag yourself out of bed and watch funny videos all day. You’re even allowed to laugh. You’re allowed to leave the house and go to school or work, and ease yourself into your normal life again.
And you’re allowed to relapse.
Like I said, depression doesn’t make a lot of sense. You’ve got to spend time with it if you’re going to learn how to deal with it, and if that means being sad one day and happy the next, you shouldn’t have to feel like you’re doing something wrong. You’re dealing with it. And that’s good.
And if someone ever makes you feel like you need to constantly be crying or hiding in your room because you’re depressed, and that’s what they think depression means, then that person needs to learn more about depression. Depression is such a mental war with yourself, and you’re usually a one-man army. You can have your victories and you can have your losses, but that doesn’t mean you’re not fighting one way or the other. Let yourself smile and laugh when you feel like it. It’s okay. You’re allowed to. You can still be depressed and let yourself get better.
That being said, it can also be easy to convince yourself to stay depressed. When you’re feeling like this long enough, it’s easy to believe that you’re going to stay depressed forever. This is why it’s so important to let yourself be happy when you’re like this. It’s easy to think that allowing yourself to be happy is only going to bring you disappointment, but you shouldn’t. You want to be happy, right? You’re not going to get better if you let those good days slip on by because you’re afraid something worse is going to happen. Take the good days. The more you can enjoy the good days, the more often you can have them. And the more often you can have them, the more progress you’re going to make in moving past your depression. That can be kind of scary, because even though you want to get better, you might have been depressed so long that you can’t imagine life any other way. Doing new things is scary, especially when you’re depressed. But you’re going to stay that way unless something changes. And a lot of times you can’t make those kinds of changes when you’re depressed, and that’s fine. That’s normal. But if you can, and you’re feeling like you’re getting better, and you want to enjoy that feeling, do it. It’s okay.