Over the past few weeks, I’ve been talking about all sorts of things, but for this week I’d like to bring the topic back to dysthymia. The most prominent aspect of dysthymia, as I’ve written about previously, is the chronic, long-lasting, and less-severe nature of the depression involved. One thing I’ve struggled with, as I’m sure most people with depression do as well, is the concept of happiness. People with any form of depression often feel as though they aren’t happy enough, or wonder how they can get happiness to return to their lives. Thousands and thousands of articles are written about happiness and how in ten easy steps, you can also become happy! However, in reality, it isn’t that simple, especially for those of us who have dysthymia. So, today I’ll be sharing my tips on not how to be happy, but settling for being happy enough.
As a society, I think we have the idea of happiness wrong. Our current perception is that if you’re a happy person, you’re successful and productive. If you aren’t happy, and if you aren’t living every day to the fullest, then you’re wasting your time. We’re taught that a busy life crammed with events and work is a good one. For the majority people, at our saddest and most depressed, we are not ‘productive’. Simply going to work can be a challenge, and we don’t do as many things as perhaps we’d like to. However, a generally unhappy life is still a life worth living. Taking the slower route is a valid option, with no set path that needs to be taken, despite popular beliefs.
Along this route, if happiness isn’t being busy, productive, and throwing ourselves at opportunities, what is it? With dysthymia, I personally feel depressed or neutral most of the time, so it’s hard for me to be happy. However, it’s been beneficial to me to think smaller when it comes to happiness. Notice and appreciate the small bits of happiness that occur in your day. For example, I played with my cat for ten minutes today. Even though it was just ten minutes, it was ten minutes that made me happy. Small happinesses are easy to find in day-to-day life. Say it stopped raining right before you were about to go outside. Your favourite song is playing on the radio. You made your coffee or tea just right. You looked outside and saw a nice sunset. These won’t cheer you up entirely, or cure your depression, but a few small nice things in your day will help you feel Happy Enough.
One last tip I’ve been trying lately is to accept neutrality. Neutral feelings can be frustrating to deal with, especially with dysthymia, as it’s often the only thing that we feel. I’ve been starting to think of feeling neutral as a positive thing. I’m coming to terms with the possibility that it may have to be my new ‘happy’, and I think I’ll be okay with that. Neutral isn’t good, it isn’t bad, but it’s there. I take solace in the fact that when I’m feeling neutral, I’m not depressed as I could potentially be at that moment.
Even though I’m not happy, or sad, I am here, and I exist. And for the moment, that’s good enough for me.
About Maddie Katz
Maddie Katz is a recent college graduate. Her interest in mental health started when she was diagnosed in high school. Her other interests lie in writing, music, theatre, and cats.