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My Depression Doesn't Mean I Can't Be Happy

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A few days ago, one of my best friends shared a video with me. It is called “The Happiest Girl in the World.”

I watched it and was instantly struck by how much I related to it. The video is from the perspective of a girl struggling with mental illness. She talks about her deep sadness — but also her true happiness. As someone who struggles with depression, this sentiment resonates very deeply with me. I’ve found there’s a stigma that if you’re depressed, you’re constantly sad. But depression isn’t just a feeling; it’s an illness. I don’t choose it. My sadness isn’t just a feeling; it’s a constant, underlying emotion.

But just because I’m sad doesn’t mean I’m not happy. In fact, I’m really happy. I’m happy to be alive. I’m happy to be able to create things. I’m happy I can write. I’m happy I can dance. I’m happy for so many reasons, and sometimes I’m overwhelmed with happiness. But I still have depression; the sadness is still constantly there. I heard a speaker the other day, and he said, “To be, or not to be. Or maybe both at the same time.” It isn’t that I’m either happy or I’m sad — it’s both. At the same exact time.

I’m sad because of my illness. I’m sad because sometimes my happiness is clouded. I’m sad because I can’t express how much I love people sometimes. I’m sad because I forget to be thankful. I’m sad because I spend a lot of time in bed wishing I had the strength to get up. But I’m happy because somewhere, somebody is getting married to the love of their life. Somewhere, somebody is being born. Somewhere, somebody is doing what they love most in the world. I’m happy because there is a beauty behind the mess of life. I’m happy because of the human spirit and the triumph that keeps us going. I’m happy because of second chances, and I’m happy because of love. I may be sad. And yes, I do have depression — but that doesn’t mean I can’t also be happy.

Today, I saw the movie “Collateral Beauty.” The main theme was that underneath all the pain in the world, there is a collateral beauty, a loveliness that arises from the darkness. A triumph that comes out of the hurt. There is a lot of pain, but through the pain there can be beauty and strength. All of the sadness of depression can’t stop me from being the happiest girl in the world, because I have come to appreciate the collateral beauty of life. Appreciate the beauty, and nothing can stop you.

Image via Thinkstock.

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Originally published: January 18, 2017
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