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When Happiness Isn't a Choice, Here's What I Can Choose

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Among other things, I have struggled with depression for the last 14 years. I also struggle with a culture that, at every turn, seems to be trying to tell me happiness is a choice. For me, and a lot of people like me, it just isn’t.

I wish there was a switch I could turn on and off or I could just “look on the bright side” of things. It’s not that easy though. I live a pretty blessed life, I know this. I have a roof over my head, enough food in the fridge and an amazing family and group of friends. I also have depression. Telling me to be happy because my life looks good to you, is like telling someone with asthma to “just breath” and to “look at all this good air you’re wasting!”

Despite my best efforts, I am incapable of choosing happiness. But, here’s what I can tell you: there are a lot of choices I do get to make.

I choose to take my medication every day, as prescribed.

I choose to go to my appointments with my therapist and my psychiatrist.

I choose to be honest in those appointments.

I choose to reach out to family and friends when everything in me is screaming I’m a waste of their time and attention and it’s easier to isolate myself.

I choose to eat food that nourishes my body, when eating anything feels like an impossible task.

When I can, I choose to get up in the morning, to shower and put on clean clothes when it would be so much easier not to.

I choose to find three things every day to be grateful for, even when it seems ridiculous. The little things? They matter.

I choose to journal because I need a healthy outlet.

I choose to get outside and go for a walk because I know physical activity helps my mood.

I choose to tidy up around my house because I know it feels better than living in chaos.

Although these may not always be choices for everyone, I choose to see what choices I have. Happiness may not be one of them, but there are plenty of things I do have a say in. I choose to not let depression win.

Originally published: July 13, 2016
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