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To the Person Who Thinks Depression Is a Choice

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Wouldn’t life be easy if we could just wake up and decide not to be sick?

In many situations, people with a mental illness compare their situation to that of a physical illness because many people do not understand. I’ve heard on many occasions that I’m “choosing to be depressed,” and I “should get a hold of myself.”

Why would anyone ever want to be depressed?

It’s such a horrible experience and can cause major interferences in your life. Would you want to wake up every morning and feel like you’re forcing yourself to hold on just one more day? Feeling like there is nothing left to live for? Always being tired, never feeling motivated to do anything, never seeing or talking to anyone and having body conscious issues and many other problems that accompany depression?

If people in your life don’t get depression, join our Let’s Talk Depression group to meet people who understand. 

When you’re depressed or have a mental illness you feel like you’re in a battle against yourself. A lot of times, you feel like you’re in a battle with other people when they make jokes or comments or send you articles of “how to consciously stay happy.” You feel like no one wants you around, like you don’t belong.

Every single person I have met with a mental illness has been a unique and interesting. At first glance, you would not even suspect they had disorders like obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or have contemplated suicide. Everyone puts on a face, but is it because we’re taking the advice of others who want to silence us? Perhaps it’s because we’re afraid of what they’ll say if we don’t act like we’re OK.

People should recognize there a lot of work goes into maintaining your life when you live with depression. Even brushing your teeth in the morning can become difficult. Then, you also have a job, food, bills and every other burden of life. When you’re sick or in the hospital, you get flowers and “Get Well Soon” cards and visits from family and friends who seem concerned and scared for your safety. There are people who hug you, sit beside you and call you to make sure you’re doing OK.

Everyone puts on a face, but is it because we’re taking the advice of others who want to silence us? Perhaps it’s because we’re afraid of what they’ll say if we don’t act like we’re OK.

When you have a mental illness, you can feel utterly alone. You feel like a mime in an invisible box you can’t escape. The pain is not like that of a physical illness. The pain is deep, and the sorrow or burdens hold on to you, sometimes for years.

You live like that, a constant cycle of feeling like you will never get better because of what has happened or what will happen if you don’t “try harder.” Of course, part of getting better is putting work into it, but it takes a long time for some people.

The medications available for mental illnesses do not always work for you. So you move on to the next one. Then, you watch for a while for side effects and move to the next if there are problems and so on. It takes a lot of time, effort and sometimes a lot of money. What is the price of happiness? We have to ask ourselves how hard we’re willing to work to get better. We can’t give up just because someone told us we’re choosing to be depressed.

Sometimes, it’s not your choice no matter how hard you work. Some days your illness will get the best of you. Yet, it’s the good days that count toward our future, and the bad days that help us learn and get better. No one would choose to be in pain every moment of their life.

My mental illness is not my choice, but my experiences in life have been and always will be.

Image via Thinkstock

Originally published: September 8, 2016
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