Happiness is not always a choice…for those suffering with mental illness. Lately I’ve seen a lot of images of someone looking out a window with a smile on their face. Everything they can see is bright and beautiful. The world is a wonderful place for them. In that same picture looking out another window is someone who is partially slumped over, frowning and clearly not happy with life. Everything they see out their window is gray and bleak. Then somewhere written on the image is a quote along the lines that “happiness is a choice”. Well I’m here to say, that happiness is NOT always a choice for everyone.
Those who have dealt with the darkness that comes with depression and mental illness, know that sometimes no matter how hard you try…happiness is not always a choice! That darkness is so consuming that sometimes those suffering from it would consider taking their own lives. Who would choose to take their own life if the solution were so simple as just thinking “happy thoughts”? The solution to those not suffering may seem obvious: “Just snap out of it! Just choose to be happy! Think happy thoughts and that darkness will go away!” Guess what? The solution isn’t always so easy.
That’s the problem I see with those images showing “happiness is a choice”. It sets up a stereotype that those who are depressed are doing it by choice and they are not! Scientific studies have proven over and over again that mental illness is a real illness not just something made up by those who are suffering. Many who suffer would give everything to just be happy again but it’s not as easy as it may seem.
I’m not saying that those with mental illness should give up on trying to be happy because there is always hope that the darkness will lift. There are many things a person suffering with mental illness can try to help pull them through the darkness. Such as writing down what you are thankful for, exercise, serving others, therapy, medication, spending time with family and friends, faith in God, etc. This isn’t a free pass for those suffering with mental illness to give up hope on finding happiness again because there is ALWAYS hope.
Yes, there are many people that choose to have a negative outlook on life. Maybe thinking more positive will help those who are more pessimistic. Perhaps deciding each morning to be happy is the solution for them. However, before judging others, please keep in mind those who are suffering with depression, anxiety, bipolar or other mental illness. Sometimes happiness is not always a choice for them. Sometimes they need compassion, love, understanding, a hug, someone to listen to them or a friend to just sit with them.
This article was seen first on Real Imprints.