Most people don’t know this about me, but in March of last year, I battled depression. I was down all the time and had no idea why. I loved my job, my newlywed marriage was amazing, I had great friends, and I had no reason to be unhappy. But I knew something was wrong, and everyone else could see it too… and everyone wanted to fix me.
Is everything ok at home?
Maybe it’s weather.
You probably just haven’t been getting enough sleep.
You should drink more water.
Have you tried yoga?
To quote Hyperbole and a Half, this is what it was like:
Up until this point in my life, the only knowledge I had about depression was from Hyperbole and a Half (which is an incredible book that I highly recommend if you’ve never read it). But to actually experience everything that she had been going through was frightening. Amidst a constant state of sadness and insecurity there is a looming sense of dread from having no idea what is troubling you to begin with.
Eventually, after about a couple months and a lot of inner reflection (and maybe some yoga), I was able to bounce back to my normal self.
And suddenly, I was Public Enemy Number One… Again.
I am happy, bubbly, enthusiastic, optimistic, and laugh without fear of judgement. I am a happy-go-lucky kind of person and make no apologizes about it. This is who I am at my ground state and I am proud of it.
But this is also the reason why I have only about four best friends and only surround myself with a select few. Most people can’t “handle” me when I act myself.
I am constantly accosted by even random strangers asking me to calm down or who give me dirty stares when I laugh too loud. I never have a quick, snarky response to any of them because it usually takes me by surprise since the people I choose to surround myself with on a regular basis don’t treat me like this. I also can’t imagine talking to someone that way and have no idea how random strangers feel like they can treat someone they don’t know that way either, but I digress.
But that summer, fresh off a spout of sadness that I had never before experienced, every time I was met with this kind of disdain, it was even more shocking than before.
Everytime I went out of my comfort zone to socialize and try to make new friends and start with a cheerful, “hello!” the dirty looks I’d get from people who thought they were too cool to talk to me took me by surprise.
The optimistic posts I would put on Facebook, amongst terror and political pessimism, that was met with comments from people that accused me of being insensitive appaled me.
The random stranger who told me I’m laughing so loud that I’m “disturbing her and everyone else in the restaurant” while I was catching up with a best friend I hadn’t seen in over a year truly upset me.
And it’s not just me. The other day I was watching Shark Tank and there was an incredibly enthusiastic lady who was selling plush animals with a comb inside of it. Literally two sharks refused to give her an investment because she was “too much” and they “wouldn’t be able to handle working with her.” Mark Cuban asked her if she ever “turned off.” My first thought was wow, I’ve been there girl. The minute she said “ok this is me turning it off” she was given a deal from Lori.
Suddenly I realized: society can’t handle happy people, they want to fix you when you’re depressed, and the only solution (for those in the business of pleasing everyone around you, anyway) is to balance your emotions the way you handle your diet.
It’s truly no wonder that apathy is the world’s biggest problem right now.
So what’s the solution here? I’m no Dali Lama, but what I do know is that we live in a world of political turmoil, terror, and pain. Don’t discount any single ounce of happiness and in any form. Laughter, optimism, a greeting, a smile. Because seriously, this world needs more of it. And moreover, you never know how someone is or was feeling deep down. That happiness may be the last thing they have to hold on to.