I’ve battled depression virtually my entire life. My biggest pet peeve was when people would tell me to “choose to be happy”. As if the trauma I’ve experienced was my fault, the mental illness I battle only a choice. But then I was talking to a friend and found myself saying just that. They were in so much pain, but they fixated on the idea that all their problems were because people had hurt them and if that those people were punished, they would have peace. I kept trying to get them to understand that they didn’t need to waste energy stressing about something they had no control over. They needed to get those people out of their life and stop focusing on what those people had done. Those people don’t matter; their sanity does.
They were very angry at me. They thought I was blaming them. They threw my own struggles back in my face, “I could say the same thing about you. That you choose to eat too much. That you choose to not have jobs work out.” And I had to come back and say, “You’re absolutely right. I chose to eat too much. I chose to leave jobs instead of learning how to stay.” But then I went on to say, but “I HAVE THE POWER!”
I realized that I do have a choice over the pain I feel but it’s not because my pains don’t matter or it’s my fault. It’s because I am POWERFUL! People who say, “choose to be happy” stop too soon. I told my friend, "I'm not thinking the worst of you. I'm thinking the best of you." I can “choose to be happy” because I CONTROL MY LIFE! It doesn’t mean I can wave a magic wand, that I’m one choice away from happiness. It doesn’t mean I make a wish and all my problems disappear. It means I can be active in my healing. I can see my psychiatrist and get my brain chemistry under control. I can work with my counselor to overcome the trauma I’ve experienced. It takes time and it takes work, but I CAN heal! I am strong! I am a warrior!