People say happiness is a choice. Let go of the past. Stop thinking. It’s not as easy as it seems. Everyone struggles to choose to be happy. Life is stressful, there are disappointments, there are challenges and strife. Sometimes there is trauma. The choice of happiness is harder for people facing mental health issues.
PTSD, anxiety, depression. They’re in your mind and in your head. The negative thoughts, the fear, the distorted views of life all combine to shroud life in hopelessness, darkness, loneliness. The burden is heavy and yet it’s nearly impossible to put down. My soul shrinks or whithers on the vine.
One cornerstone of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is to recognize the distorted thoughts that feed the symptoms and challenge them. It seems easy when it is said. It’s not so easy to apply. Depression and PTSD lie. But the lies appear as the truth because the worldview is twisted. There’s just enough accuracy to the protective, skewed world view to make it even tougher to challenge successfully. The skewed thought creeps in when it’s least expected.
Being happy isn’t a simple choice. It’s work. It’s choosing what I need to do to heal every day, especially when the “fuck its” set in.
It’s oversimplified to say happiness is a choice. Some people are struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other conditions that make it challenging to find peace and joy. But challenging doesn’t mean impossible. It’s more accurate to say, “Happiness takes a lot of choices, some of which are hard to make.” Like the choice to accept ourselves and our struggles, the choice to accept responsibility for getting help, and the choice to do things that are good for us even when- especially when- we feel like giving up.
Peace and joy seem like an impossible dream right now; one disconnected from the reality of a world of chaos, fear, hate- both externally and internally. The choice now is to keep going, do the things that are good for me, get over my bullshit about actually accepting help instead of trying to deal with it myself.
Maybe joy and peace are daily choices for everyone. No emotion or situation is permanent. I’ll try to choose something different. Maybe I’ll eventually build some peace and joy again. Or at least get things better than “fuck it.”