Depression often comes with a stigma – some believe it’s all in your head or that all you have to do is ‘get over it’. Research and my experience as a therapist (and human!) disagree with these beliefs. Depression isn’t a choice. If it were, those suffering from it wouldn’t be depressed any longer. Understanding how depression is something that takes deliberate effort to combat and often professional help from a counselor is the first step towards happiness.
Depression is different than sadness that might occur in different situations. These situations, along with accompanying depression, come and go. Sadness isn’t something to fear or avoid. In fact, letting ourselves experience sadness helps us to live a full life. People often put themselves in an impossible situation when they try to avoid feeling sad because they think that sadness is bad and that they are bad for feeling it. This sentiment often resounds in religious settings where some would believe that they should just feel happy because of their beliefs. Learning how to embrace the uncomfortable emotions in life frees us to also feel the comfortable emotions as well (such as happiness). We can’t have one without the other. Trying to not feel sad is a recipe for addiction. It takes a strong substance – alcohol, work or pornography – to numb the feeling of sadness that comes to each one of us.
Embrace uncomfortable emotions and see how much more full and real your life becomes.