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Why I'm Scared of Feeling Happiness

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All I’ve wanted for my entire life is to not feel anxious and to not feel depressed. I learned I can’t get rid of my anxiety or depression, but I at least wanted to be in control of it. It took me 20 years until I finally told my parents that I wanted to find a therapist. They were incredibly supportive, and they helped me find someone to see in Chicago. Within a couple of weeks, I was going to therapy every Friday, I was on medication and I noticed myself starting to feel happier. I was more in control and everything seemed slightly easier. Getting out of bed was no longer a hassle and I was so excited about my progress that I started telling everyone. I wanted everyone to know I was taking care of myself and I wanted everyone to know I was finally happy. It was so cool and everyone was so proud of me. Then, this overwhelming fear took over me. I realized I wasn’t used to being happy and feeling this “normal.”

Being depressed and anxious has always been my normal, and I can recognize it is not healthy, but it was what I was used to. Being anxious and sad had become my security blanket in a strange way because I didn’t know anything different. Ultimately, this happiness I had worked for and found scared me for a couple of reasons.

First, like I have said, this is a feeling I wasn’t used to and my anxious part of my brain was freaking out. I knew happiness as a passenger, but it was depression and anxiety in the driver’s seat my whole life. What was this feeling? Was it safe? Was this too good to be true? The uncertainties were killing me. I told myself I should keep my expectations low, and that I didn’t deserve the happiness I was feeling. I didn’t understand happiness and I was scared it was going to go away, which brings me to my next fear.

I was scared of falling back into my depression and anxiety because going back to that state of mind screamed “failure” to me.

Everyone knew I was feeling good. I couldn’t let myself go back into depression or anxiety because if I did I would be disappointing myself and everyone around me. Everyone would be questioning what happened.

In this bizarre way, feeling happy is scary. It is hard and I am still learning that my depression and anxiety are not something I’m choosing. I won’t always be in control of it, but I’m learning to be grateful for the times I am happy while knowing I will still have to fight the battles of depression and anxiety each day. Feeling in control and feeling happy is the greatest feeling in the world, but I know a flip of a switch can bring me back and that does terrify me. I want to be healthy and happy, but I am also reluctant to let myself be.

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Unsplash photo via Ezra Jeffrey

Originally published: April 26, 2017
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