I Choose You, Depression!

22 11 2011

Recently someone posted this on Facebook:

“I am grateful for being aware that I have choice. I choose happiness, I am happy, It’s simple, but funny how I used to think that it was out of my control. Those were bummer days:(
Could it be as simple for you too? Yes! Say it over and over, you will start to believe it, . . . I dare you to be happy! I triple dog dare you to choose Happy! lol Choice, it’s that simple.”

I’m going to set aside my grammar snobbishness and dive straight to the heart of the matter: Major depressive disorder is an illness. I have not chosen to be depressed.

Has anyone ever suggested schizophrenia is a choice? Next Facebook status update: “I triple dog dare you to stop hearing voices!”

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.” Sadly, there’s a good chance my brain is not wired like the brain of the average person. MRI studies have actually shown that the brains of depressed people look different from those of non-depressed people.

I’m not removing personal effort from the equation. If I sit by passively, depression will kill me. I choose to see my therapist and psychiatrist. I choose to take my medications. I choose to get out of bed in the morning even though there’s nothing I’d like more than to pull the covers over my head and spend an entire day in the fetal position. I choose to fight.

But telling me to choose to be happy? That’s like telling a type I diabetic to will her pancreas to produce insulin. It just ain’t gonna happen. So she’ll take her medications and her blood sugar will stay under control, but she’ll still be a diabetic.

I take my medication. Sometimes my depression is under control. But underneath it all, I’m still depressed. There’s a good chance I’ll always be depressed. That fact alone is…well, it’s depressing.

But it’s not my choice.

Saying it’s my choice suggests that in some sick and twisted way I enjoy being miserable. I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. Those of you who read my blog regularly know how much I love laughing. I despise drama in my life (unless the drama revolves around how unbelievably awesome things are).

Could I do more for myself? Of course. I need more sleep, more exercise, more time spent on myself. But I don’t know many people who wouldn’t say the same.

I choose to be happy, but for some reason beyond my understanding, God has chosen a different path for me. Does that mean I spend every minute hating life? Well, duh. Obviously not.

I’m trying to think of something funny to tell you to prove I’m a happy-go-lucky gal, but go figure, for once in my life I’m at a loss for words. Crapsticks. BUT I’M FUNNY, DAMMIT!

I promise I’m not turning this blog into a big platform to talk about my depression issues. That would be boring and lame, and I’m not boring and lame. SHUT UP. I’M NOT.

Jerks.

*I totally have the supplies for my advent calendars. Now I just have to actually make them.

**That’s the easy part, right?

***Y’all get the Pokemon reference in the title, right? No? Crap. I’m such a geek.

****Speaking of geeks, you should’ve seen my reaction when I discovered they have the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon on DVD on amazon.com. Oh yes, they do.

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18 responses

19 01 2012
TheNextMartha

My mother lives with bipolar. I’ve seen her life. Surely she would choose different if she could.

21 12 2011
Alison Stangel Bulson

A-freaking-men!
Your blog is awesome. You are awesome.

I tried “choosing happiness” in graduate school. I had panic attacks and dropped out…

8 12 2011
@moerelle

Thank you!

3 12 2011
***C*** (@Streetlights94)

Well, everyone else has pretty much said everything for me, except for maybe the Simpsons reference thing… I didn’t make the connection, but that was awesome anyway. Sometimes I think Facebook has been the worst thing for us because it makes people’s stupidity so readily accessible, but then again it also makes people’s stupidity so readily accessible.

I would love to be able to choose to just walk out of my house whenever I want to instead of feeling like I’m drowning in air when my agoraphobia is out of control. But hey, guess what? I can’t sometimes. Sometimes, I just want to lay in bed and stare at my wall. However, I do choose to get to my therapy appointments on time and take care of my baby, and get my boy to school. There are some things we can get control over — through hard work — and other things we struggle with and hopefully choose to seek help with.

26 11 2011
Ashley Pariseau

I think depression is different than most people who are just unhappy with their lives.

24 11 2011
zstitches

Although I do have your blog in Reader, I just came here via the Bloggess’s Wolf-Blitzer-at-the-Movies post. That whole sentence meant nothing back when Pokémon were new.

Not only did I catch the Pokémon reference, but it inspired me to look up this old post of mine just for you: http://myimaginaryblog.wordpress.com/2009/03/30/consider-yourself-warned/ . (And did you notice my accent on Pokémon? I also know the correct plural of the word. And that’s the extent of my Pokémon knowledge.)

Unfortunately, there *are* people who would tell a type I diabetic to will her pancreas to produce insulin. But, yes, depression is even less understood.

I think it’s possible for someone to be past being able to fight their depression–but fortunately rare–and only God knows who was truly past fighting. May no one I love ever think they’re past that point.

I once thought I hadn’t had enough faith to be healed from my thyroid disease (and other ailments) but later decided I had demonstrated faith by seeking treatment, and by appreciating whatever improvement it brought. The same could be said of depression; you show your faith by doing all you can to get help, and then working with whatever improvements you can attain–even if they are, as Heidi said, someone else’s 80%. Or someone else’s 20%. It’s always enough if it’s the best we can manage.

22 11 2011
Annette

This should be required reading for pretty much everyone.

Depression IS an illness. It’s not a choice. The *blues* are a choice.

But then there’s the flip side you explained so well–you do have the choice to fight.

I get sick of people who are genuinely suffering from depression but say, “Oh, see, I can’t do anything about it, sorry. I’m DEPRESSED.” Then their families suffer.

You may not be able to choose how you feel, but you can act and fight. You *can* take meds. You *can* see doctors. You *can* get out of bed when you feel like you’re being crushed by darkness. Sucks, but you can. And it’s your duty.

(Speaking as someone who’s dealt with some level of depression most of her life, but gets sick of people who refuse to fight and instead use their depression as an excuse to sit around and do nothing about it. Depression is not a choice. Fighting depression is. And yes, I’m so dang tired of fighting it.)

Whew. Off my soap box. That’s what you get when I read your blog at midnight. 🙂

22 11 2011
Erika

Oh no, I know that that “tale” should be spelled “tail”…or should it? Maybe I’m actually referring to some physical manifestation of Charizard’s gripping story of fighting Vulpix right before Vulpix became Nine Tails?

Yeah, it’s that second thing.

22 11 2011
Erika

Not only did I get the title, but I actually have Pokemon cards IN THIS VERY ROOM. I’m looking right at them (I’m seriously not joking–Brent is selling them on Ebay. I think. Or maybe he just got them out to look at them? Also, there’s a plastic Charizard that has a light up tale and makes some squeaky groany lizard noise).

And because everyone likes preaching to a choir, yeah, the idea that happiness and depression are a choice is just…hogwash (where did this phrase come from? Do they sell hogwash like they sell mouthwash? Also, how does the WordPress proofreader recognize “hogwash” but not “Pokemon” or, ironically enough, “WordPress”. Why would you not add your company’s name to its built-in spell check? I’m sure you’ve mentioned this before…Wow, this parenthetical statement is so long that English teachers everywhere are dying inside). It’s hogwash for all the reasons you suggest.

Can we choose not to cry because our favorite show didn’t come on this week? Yes. Can we choose not to make a big deal about the fact that our favorite grocery store stopped carrying our favorite spice mix over a year ago, and that roasted potatoes and vegetables will never be the same? Yes (though I don’t–I’m still hung up on it). But we don’t get to choose our illnesses. So there, facebook person!

22 11 2011
HeidiAphrodite

My sister chooses to take her meds for her fun combination of fibromyalgia/bipolar/OCD/anxiety/hallucinations. She’d like to choose to be pain-free and normal, but she’s not. My 80% is her 100% and that’s just the way it is. I decided a few months ago to call people out when they say things like “I’m SOOOO depressed” or “I’m SOOOOO bipolar today!” because I’m sick of the stigma and misinformation running around out there. Tired. Of. It.

22 11 2011
rachel

ha ha, tittle! actually the title made me think of the simpson’s, when ralph wiggam gives lisa a valentine. i choo-choo-choose you, depression! not. i choo-choo choose you, jenny!

22 11 2011
Wendy Sparrow

Also, I like it when you swear… but that probably makes me an enabler so forget I said that…

I also like that Mimi called it a tittle–that probably makes me immature, but we knew that.

22 11 2011
Wendy Sparrow

The foreverness of these things get to me. Sometimes when I think that I will always be struggling with OCD it feels like it’ll crush me. I had a long talk with my bishop about going back on medication, and I admitted that I think I’m a better person when medicated… and that bothers me… a lot. I just wish the medications didn’t have such severe side effects.

Anyway, yes… a million times yes… because I’m pretty sure that if I had a choice in any of this… only a moron would choose the path of mental illness.

22 11 2011
Alexandra

Then that is not true depression. NOT TRUE DEPRESSION.

You can’t begin to describe pure depression…it’s so much more than your thoughts, it ‘s the feeling. The tears you see are nothing like what the brain feels like.

One can CHOOSE to get treatment, medication, talk therapy, go for walks,e at right, seek support…we can choose to seek out ways to help us cope through life, but we cannot flip a switch and become undepressed.

Sounds like this person had the blues.

But real depression? I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

22 11 2011
Sarah (@cspokey)

Amen.

That is all

22 11 2011
Randy Tayler (@RandyTayler)

Amen, sistah. I wish I’d understood that sooner, and spared myself so many years without my bipolar meds. Cognitive behavior therapy is helpful — making choices that can assist dealing with some depression — but meds have made me functional.

22 11 2011
Mimi

Title, TITLE!

22 11 2011
Mimi

I even heard Ash Ketchum’s creepy voice saying your tittle, Jenny! Lol p.s. depression blows major chunks! I love you!

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