I’ve lately been rewatching LittleKuriboh’s “We’re Still Here” series about his journey and recovery and struggles with depression. (Watch it here. I really recommend it). He reminded me of one of the greatest struggles that I’m still working to overcome: the feeling that I don’t deserve it (it being happiness, friends, anything good).
First of all, that’s a really common feeling when you’re in the throes of depression. “I’m worthless,” “Why should I have good things?” “”I’m such a burden,” “This is normal. Being sad is normal. Happy is abnormal,” et cetera. It’s that last idea that I want to focus on today.
When you struggle with depression, the depression becomes you. Your entire life is filtered through the depression and that becomes the new normal. You can’t imagine being happy, because it is such a foreign concept. And then there’s the part of you that says, “You don’t deserve it. Why should you be happy?” And because your mental illness is your whole being, or that’s what it feels like, you believe that part of you.
One thing to know is that you’re wrong. Just straight up wrong. You do deserve it, and constant sadness and pain shouldn’t be what is normal.
But even when you’re recovering this thought comes up pretty often. “I’m feeling better, but why should I be?” “This isn’t what I should be,” “This happiness will go away and then I’ll be sad again.” There are times over the process of my recovery where I have bad days. Everyone has bad days, but people with mental illness tend to have worse bad days than others (overall, not absolutely). But on those bad days my first two thoughts are “Thank god. This is normal. This is comfortable” and “This is what I deserve.” But I didn’t deserve it. It wasn’t normal to be sad, even if it was more comfortable because that’s what I was used to. But it’s not what I deserved. I deserve to be happy, and so do you.
I remember a time where I was crying to my ex-boyfriend, saying “I just want to be happy” and he told me happiness was a myth, and that no one was really happy. I didn’t believe him, and it turns out, part of why he thought that was he was struggling with undiagnosed depression. Happiness is achievable. You won’t be happy all the time or every day – life comes with ups and downs. But being able to achieve happiness and work through those ups and downs, that’s what we work for.