When happiness isn’t a choice

Happy New Year! With all of the inspirational quotes and “new year, new me” posts floating around I thought I’d talk a bit about why I WON’T be choosing happiness this year. Yes, you read that right.

You see for me and others who suffer from a mood disorder, happiness isn’t a choice. For most people, their moods are based on their circumstances. I get it, sometimes bad things happen and you just need to choose how to react to it. However, I believe sending messages that your happiness is a choice can leave a great number of us who have to cope with mood disorders, bipolar disorder etc. feeling guilty and lonely. For us, our moods will change regardless of what we do and don’t do and that is part of the illness.

happy new year

For those of you who don’t quite understand mood disorders and how they differ from other mental disorders, let me explain. We go through cycles called “manic” and “depressed” phases.

Manic phases consist of elevated mood and energy (but don’t get me wrong this can sometimes be a bad thing see my previous post for details), while depressed phases are pretty self-explanatory. These phases differ in severity and length depending on the person but these phases come and go regardless of what that person does.

bipolar giphy

So when I’m in a depressed phase and someone says “choose happiness”, I feel worse. I can look for things that make me happy during these phases, but the truth of the matter is, I won’t feel happy no matter what I do. I just have to sit in that sadness until it passes… like a wave.

So for those of you who suffer from mood disorders I have a personal new year’s message for you. You will feel sad, angry, irritated, and confused this year but like a wave, those feelings won’t last. Don’t feel guilty for the way you feel but find ways to cope with those feelings while you’re feeling them. If you have the energy, do more of things you love. If you can’t get out of bed, that’s okay… rest.

For those of you who don’t have a mood disorder, please be understanding of those of us who do. Realize the things that help and inspire you may not be for everyone and that’s okay. Everyone has their own path to take to happiness or as those of us with a mood disorder like to say… stability.

Thanks for reading and happy new year!

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