I have often, as I am sure many others have, heard someone make the comment that depression and happiness are a ‘choice’.
I always wanted to say something about this concept, but could never find the words … but I had a discussion today that helped me solidify this today, so I’m sharing.
As with all things, thinking about this for a while leads me to state there is some truth behind the comment, but that the pragmatic truth is that it’s not that simple.
When someone who is suffering is in the depths of depression, there are no choices. There is just suffocating darkness, overwhelming despair and, quite possibly, waves of anxiety. The concept of a choice is so far driven from the mind as to not even be a glimpse of a hope of a possibility. A lot of work needs to be done to help someone who is a victim of depression to move from the Stygian gloom that is the abyss of depression and into the surrounding shadows of the valley of sadness. Never underestimate that. Sometimes, the tools just aren’t there. Sometimes they need a guiding hand. Sometimes, they really do need to get lost in there, to see the depth of it, before they can find the way out again.
Once the way out is shown, then and only then, can new things be brought up to them. Then can the tools they need to cross the valley of shadows and into the sunlight be offered and applied.
Then, can the concept of choices come about.
Some will choose to remain in the shadows, wallowing in the semi-darkness, continuing on with their lives with their dark, welding glasses left on. They will not drop back into the abyss, but nor will they venture into the light. Why? Because they are comfortable there. They know and understand the land they live in. They will not risk the uncertainty of the change that sunlight will bring into their world.
Most others will aim for the sunlight.
However, this is not a “choice to be happy” rather a “choice to not go back into the abyss”.
This is the actual choice.
This is what stops someone going back into depression. The choice to never have to get lost in that world again. The choice to use the tools they have and even find new ones to avoid that hopelessness. The choice is about allowing yourself to fight to remain away from the cliffs of the abyss.
As I said in another post, “the removing of unhappiness by definition provides a level of happiness”.
Happiness is not something you can simply choose and thus achieve.
It too must be fought for and won. It’s an aim. It’s a process. One we all deserve. One we can all achieve … with the right tools and support.