Depression is not about happiness…

When you live with depression and anxiety your own perception is your own reality.

I recently read an article that discussed the benefits of exercise in helping to relieve the symptoms of depression and anxiety. And it’s true. Exercise can provide relief from symptoms, if you can find the motivation.

However, the problem here, is the time old and unhelpful classic line; “if you get up and do something you’ll feel better”.

This line gets it’s origins from the darkened room in which those living with depression like to sit. Ruminating over our deficiencies. Feeding our misguided self-perceptions with a truckload of junk.

In a perverse and ironic way, these self-deprecating thoughts provide us a sense of comfort. Not unlike when someone who doesn’t suffer with depression thinks good thoughts about themselves they fulfil a self-belief that they are good.   This reaffirms their perception of themselves and provides a sense of satisfaction.

Someone living with depression and anxiety ironically feels ‘satisfied’ by their negative self-talk. Thoughts like “I’m useless”; “I’m a failure”; or “no-one could love someone like me”, are feeding our perception of ourselves and ‘reconciling’ an irreconcilable ambiguity.

As an example, I am a highly awarded and recognised businesswoman who without education, money or experience took a home based business and turned it into a multi-million dollar, national enterprise. For all intents and purposes, a VERY successful person. However, when I entered into an agreement with someone I found out too late was a liar and thief, my successes became irrelevant. The only way I could reconcile the disaster happening around me (that was completely outside my control) was to convince myself I was useless for letting someone get the better of me. “I’m not smart enough.” “I’m too stupid.”   “I’m a fake!”

These thoughts subconsciously, provided me comfort in my distressed and confused state.

Now, because my body has always loved a bit of extreme chemical activity and, because I know I am not worthy of the success I’ve achieved (remember: no education, no money, no experience) I can easily resolve the issue of being a fraud victim by marrying it to my self perception of unworthiness.

Anyway, I digress!

Mr. Wonderful (get over yourself and the wacky name thing!!), has found me many times sitting and ruminating (and sobbing) and has often said (mostly in frustration), “get up and do something and you’ll feel better”.

It’s true, distraction can be a great placebo for emotional health symptoms. Your brain, in it’s automation, has the ability to accept stimuli from any chemicals active at any particular time. If it turns out that your brain is distracted by matters of safety or pleasure it will respond to those chemicals making it appear, for all intents and purposes that your depression has miraculously lifted. Once the distraction stops, homeostasis returns and your chemical activity is back to ‘normal’ (for me normal means depressed).

I believe that depression is not the inability to feel happy, but to lose the capacity to anticipate happiness or excitement. If you like, the inability to look forward to a “pleasurable” activity. Not because happiness is not possible, but because it cannot be sustained and it cannot be reconciled to our chemically stimulated sense of unworthiness.

If you know me, you know this weeks quote from Leonardo da Vinci says it all:

The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.

You can read things not to say 1 The things You Shouldn’t Say , 2 Walk or Don’t Walk and 3 The Doctor is In here: Click here.

Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety. To contact Deb click here.

If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.

If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)

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