"You're the Reason You Are Miserable" and Other Myths

The other day I scrolled by an article that a few friends had shared on Facebook. Its title wasn’t much different from all the other similar articles. It wasn’t unique, but it was particularly catchy (albeit shitty)… “Hate to Break it to You but You Are the Reason Your Life Sucks So Much.” And though it made me cringe with abjection, I couldn’t help but be curious... 
What are those happy folk claiming to know about us sad folk this time? I scrolled back up, clicked the link, and read on.

As I expected, it was just another article full of bullshit advice from people who evidently know nothing of (or just don’t believe in) depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or any other chronic mental health condition that causes us sad folk to sink into ourselves like a despondent turtle. People who see us as a scourge of society. People who actually believe that we make ourselves miserable, that we can simply choose to be happy, but instead we purposely choose not to be. 
I call them the happy folk, when in fact I should just call them delusional.

The article had several shitty advisements and claims. But some of my personal favorites were…

If you think the world is out to get you it’s because you have a shit attitude towards life 

You will never be happy if you’re constantly looking at the negatives

You need to keep going when everything in you is telling you to give up because that’s the only way you’ll ever amount to anything great

If you think your life sucks it probably does

If you want your life to get better then start living like it 

You are the reason you are unhappy 

You are your own worst enemy; you are the only one who is standing in the way of your goals and your success ¹

And I thought, well, Miss Author (and those who agree with your points of view and share them proudly), let me help you understand.

Here are a few myths about us sad folk...

“Depression isn’t real” — Depression is real. It is a complex and chronic biological, social, and psychological condition that requires treatment. 

“You can just snap out of it” — We don’t choose to be depressed, and no, we can’t just snap out of it, or suck it up, or choose to be happy. It is a medical condition in which our brain chemistry, function, and structure are affected by environmental and/or biological factors. 

“Depression is just feeling sad” — Depression and sadness are most certainly not one in the same. Being sad is a passing emotion. Depression is recurrent and consistent. It can last anywhere from a day to a year, and doesn’t just “go away” or resolve on its own without some form of treatment.

And here are a few facts about us sad folk...

~Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. 
~Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder² 
~Globally, an estimated 284 million people experienced an anxiety disorder in 2017, making it the most prevalent mental health or neurodevelopmental disorder  
~In 2017, an estimated 264 million people in the world experienced depression 
~Globally, an estimated 46 million people in the world had bipolar disorder in 2017 
(Keep in mind that mental health disorders are widely under-reported) 
~People suffering from depression are 20 times more likely to die from suicide³

Let me ask you something… 

A boy I knew, a boy I cared about very much, took his own life at age 13. Do you think any of your statements could have changed that, or would have been beneficial to him, or had a positive impact on him? What about his mother? Would she welcome those words of advice, do you think? If you said any of those things to her, would they somehow help her choose happiness? And what about my teenage son, who lost his stepbrother and lifelong best friend that day? Do you think your advice would somehow, in any way, bring him comfort?

I didn’t think so.

And you'll say- oh, well that's different. Different how? Different from all the other depressed people you are chastising, who may have similar stories that you know nothing about?

But you are right about a few things…
  • Yes, if we think our life sucks, it’s probably because it does.
    It sucks because we can’t drag ourselves out of bed every morning without being afraid of our own feelings that day. It sucks because we are stuck in our complicated, restless, noisy minds, and we can’t possibly force them to quiet down. It sucks because we know we are sad and anxious, and we know we don’t want to be. God, how we desperately don’t want to be. But we can’t. Make. It. Stop.
  • Yes, we are the reason we are unhappy.
    We know it is our fault. Trust me, we blame ourselves every day. We tell ourselves to suck it up, to get out of bed, to just be normal and quit being such a damn sissy. And we also know that we lack those abilities. We cannot “just do” any of those things, no matter how terribly we long to.
  • And, yes, we are our own worst enemy.
    We battle our minds and our hearts and our feelings. Every. Fucking. Day. It is agonizing. Some days we win, but most days we lose. It is a constant war inside us. We fight our “self-enemy” with rage and despair and fear.

    And we fight it with courage.
    Every. Fucking. Day.
By Crista Grace
January 5, 2020

Sabrina Benaim “Explaining Depression to My Mother”

¹ https://thoughtcatalog.com/becca-martin/2016/12/hate-to-break-it-to-you-but-you-are-the-reason-your-life-sucks-so-much/

² https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

³ https://ourworldindata.org/mental-health