A Response to This Viral Meme, From Someone Who's Experienced Depression

meme that says 'amazing things will happen today if you choose not to be a miserable cow'

Well, I’m not sure who created this meme, but they most likely didn’t think about how this could be interpreted by someone experiencing major depression, bipolar depression, grief, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anorexia, addiction (and the list goes on).

Who knows? I don’t know the creator’s story. Maybe his or her intention was to say choosing optimism has helped them overcome difficult times. I know members of my own family used to tell me during times of depression that “happiness is a choice” — a comment that stung, even if they had the best of intentions for me. It was because they didn’t understand.

However, there is nothing positive in referring to someone as a “miserable cow.” Nothing.  

This phrasing only further creates the stigma behind those with depression and other mental illnesses — that their struggling is something they choose. I can tell you with confidence I never chose bipolar disorder to be a part of the way my brain functions. I never chose or continue to choose the days where I feel as though the world is ending and all my actions seem purposeless. I have never chosen the days where I cannot stop crying for reasons I cannot even pinpoint… other than the fact that my brain simply is this way. I never chose depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety or anorexia.

Because when you think about it, why on earth would someone choose to have illnesses that are not only painful but so misunderstood?

Perhaps the creator of this meme simply wanted to say it’s important to try to be optimistic during tough times. If that’s the case, I agree with that underlying message. I just feel it was poorly implicated, as some days happiness simply cannot be chosen. And none of us struggling with a mental illness or perhaps going through tragedy or grief of some kind, are “miserable cows.”

We are simply humans.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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