Depression Isnt Sadness So Please Stop Telling Me To Choose Happiness

Timothy Paul Smith

Now, let me begin with a few facts and acknowledgements.

I know you mean well. I know that you are willing to to feel better and that you can see I’m in pain. I know depression is complicated and messy and dark. I know it’s hard to know how to help someone who is in its throes, but there is one thing that is absolutely certain 😛 TAGEND

Telling me to” choose happiness” or to” focus on the positives” isn’t, and never will be, good advice. In fact, it’s hurtful, nullify, and downright harmful.

Depression only doesn’t fucking work like that.

You can’t will yourself to render more serotonin or dopamine. You can’t kick the Prozac or Zoloft by thinking about how the sunshine is glistening and that Beyonce and Jay-Z worked things out after “Lemonade” and now have beautiful twins. You can’t force the demons out of your mind by simply asking them to leave because positivity in moving in.


The thing is depression is an illness. Just the way someone with diabetes can’t tell their pancreas to start secreting insulin, you can’t ask the mind to stop being depressed. Because it can’t , not without treatment.

It’s also important to note that” prefer happiness” is shitty advice because depression isn’t sadness. When someone is sad, they’re often told to “cheer up” since happiness is held sadness’s opposite. That will have to cancel it out, right? Depression should work the same!

But the thing is, while depression can attain you feel sad, that’s a side effect and not all that it is.

Depression is also hopelessness. It’s feeling utterly alone and finding it hard to leave your bed or the house. It’s having trouble brushing your teeth or showering. It’s a inundate of tears that you can’t seem to stop. Sometimes, it’s no tears at all because you’re so numb and apathetic that nothing seem to be matter.

Depression is interrupted sleep. It’s feeling exhausted constantly, even after sleeping for 10 hours straight. It’s eating too much, or too little. It’s strained relationships. It’s being unable to concentrate at work or school. It’s detesting every ounce of your being.

It’s all consuming, excruciating, emotional pain.

So, instead of giving a river of Pinterest board advice, maybe ask someone who is suffering if they’re watching a therapist. Encourage them to see one if not. Help them build the first phone call to set up an appointment. Run with them to support groups if they’re scared to go.

Ask them if they’ve tried medication, and remind them there’s no dishonor in needing it. Ask them how they’re doing and let them know you love them no matter what. Let them know what they feel is real and valid and” not all in their head .”

And while, yes, sometimes people with depression can get out and socialize and feeling a little better, it’s not always possible. Sometimes, the weight of depression is just too much and this doesn’t make them weak.

And on those days when it is just too much for them, instead of asking them to” focus on the positives ,” perhaps say 😛 TAGEND

So, please, for the love of God, Rumi and Sir, ramen, golden retrievers, and shredded cheese, stop telling people with depression to choose happiness. It’s not possible. It’s also contributing to the stigma and why people don’t seek therapy in the first place. After all, if they could opt their way out, why would they ask for help?

Make sure to visit: