What Good is Being Alive if You’re Unhappy?

2 min read

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When you mention you’re depressed, sometimes people like to say:

 Well, the good thing is: you woke up this morning. It’s a blessing to be alive!

Is it really? Why? What does being alive mean to a person suffering through depression? Another endless day to trudge through? More pretending like things are okay, putting on a happy face, so you don’t have to explain yourself to others, see their pity, or worry about bringing them down with your gloomy mood? Wondering if there will ever be an end to this misery, because it seems like you’ll always feel this way? Trying not to collapse when someone asks, “How are you”?

You ever have everything in your life seem to go wrong at once?

I try not to have regrets. I generally think all of the events that occur in our lives are part of some larger purpose – or to put it in a less spiritual way – that there’s something to be gained even from negative experiences.

I’ve lived in San Francisco for over three years and they have been some of the unhappiest years of my life. At times, I wonder if I’ve wasted three good years of my 30s – my fleeting youth – on this place, and to what end? I had two jobs that screwed with me mentally & emotionally. I felt used, overlooked, abused, and ignored.

I think about why I left Los Angeles, reminiscing on the good times and the great friends I left behind, the social life I used to have. The outgoing person I used to be. I consider the person I am now, the burgeoning recluse, and life feels unreal. It’s as though I don’t truly exist here. I’m floating through.

My self-esteem has taken a nosedive. It’s akin to becoming a teenager again who has to learn what it means to love yourself. I care less and less about my appearance, because why bother? Who am I going to meet? How is today going to be any different from yesterday?

I look forward to bedtime because at least I get a reprieve from reality. I can hope to have vivid, pleasant dreams. When I awake, for a brief moment I can entertain the idea that maybe this day will be different than the others.

Eating is often the highlight of my day. Thinking about what I’m going to consume awakens that area of the brain responsible for pleasure.

I cry almost every day. I feel so alone and it’s not the kind of loneliness that is cured by just going out to dinner with a concerned friend. It’s the intense ache you carry with you, knowing you’re missing something you need to survive.

Even on my recent trip to Southeast Asia, the depression didn’t take a vacation, it hung there, followed me everywhere, clouding my enjoyment. I love to travel and even that wasn’t enough to dissipate the fog.

Lately, I’ve begun to question my decision-making skills because it seems I’ve made one bad decision after another. Why did I move here? Why did I accept those jobs? Why did I pick this neighborhood to live in? Why don’t I fit in? Should I have opened door number two instead?

I don’t think those who don’t suffer from depression really know what it’s like. To feel numb and emotionless, to just go through the motions. It’s the worst feeling. To give up on everything, reaching the point where you care less and less what happens to you. There’s a hollowness. Perhaps that’s the brain’s way of protecting us from too much emotional trauma.

It doesn’t cheer me up to hear that one has to go through the storm to appreciate the sunshine. How many storms does one need to weather? How many times does our resolve need testing? And to think there might be 40, 50 or 60 years more of this capricious cycle. Perhaps at some point in the future, the puzzles pieces will connect and I’ll understand what the purpose of these trials, but for now I wonder what sadistic force is pulling the strings.

Treating depression isn’t as simple as repeating a few positive mantras, listing all you have to be grateful for, or knowing that things could be worse. If one more person says, “We choose to be happy…”

I don’t talk much about my depression, because I don’t want people to look at me differently. This country treats mental illness like it’s a shameful flaw. Many misunderstand it. Some refuse to even accept it as a real problem. I’ve found it easier to outwardly move through the world as one of the “normal” people. Those whose emotions don’t sink to depths as dark and isolated. I wish I knew what it was like to feel emotions less intensely.

I’m exhausted and tired of fighting. There has to be more to life than this, otherwise, why am I here?

I just want to see the sun again.

Do you suffer from depression or does someone you love struggle with depression or anxiety? How do you cope?

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26 Comments
  • Mrs. AOK
    May 2, 2016

    Perhaps the cosmos brought me here, things just kind of aligned with my current mood… feelings. I’m in effin’ tears right now. I ask the same questions often. I came here, because I thought, “I haven’t seen or visited Keisha.” How the hell am I going to be top commenter if I’ve been a sucky friend.
    And now I see you and I have been battling similar demons. You know I try to stay upbeat, but sometimes I slip down my own rabbit hole of WTF did I do and what should I do now. I feel like I don’t fit in. I was wondering if I’ll ever find my geographical “home” again. I WAS ABOUT TO TWEET THAT BEFORE I CAME HERE! Crazy.
    Please know I’m always here for you.
    XOXO
    Mrs.aok05@gmailcom 🙂

  • suemidd48
    April 7, 2016

    This spoke to me because I suffer, too, with depression. Mine is often seasonal based so I’d love to move to another, warmer, state, but you have me thinking: will that change anything? I find solace in God and His word mostly and the encouragement of friends and my husband. I also connect myself with people like you because then, at least, I can say, “It’s not just me.” Solidarity often helps. But some days… it’s just cry and be alone. Wallow in it a bit and then try to move on. When really down, I write down things I’m grateful for or I buy myself something I’ve been wanting – I get out of the house. Break out of the “in your head” cycle. It’s the worst place to dwell. God bless.

  • Trish
    March 29, 2016

    Many hugs for you! I suffer with depression myself, so I definitely understand that it doesn’t get any easier (as much as we would like it to!)! Please continue to talk to those you trust whenever you can! I’ve learned that having a great support system makes things a little easier to bear. 🙂

  • CountryLifeCityWife
    March 20, 2016

    I am emailing you. I am thinking of you.

  • Mila
    March 9, 2016

    Dear Keisha,
    A while back you left a very thoughtful & nice comment under my post about anxiety struggles.I thought: ‘Wow, what a great & full of life Lady, it’s great that she doesn’t have to deal with all this anxiety s*t” 😉
    But I guess we all have our own demons. Like you said: life is not always good. I hope you’ll make all the changes you need and you’ll chase away depression demon!
    And I hate ‘Pollyanna approach’ too! Of course there are cases when all you is a positive attitude, but when you’re sick, you’re sick and that’s that.
    Unfortunately, Polish people (I’m originally from Poland) have tendency to ‘repair’ you by saying you need to get a grip, which is driving me nuts 🙂

    Lots of hugs,
    Mila

  • Bree
    March 1, 2016

    I love everything about this post. I’ve been living with depression for years, and everything you wrote is spot on. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Paige Brown (@PaigeBrownFash)
    March 1, 2016

    I think the same exact thoughts and agree with everything you said in this post. We can only hope that there is a point to all these bad times, and keep going to find out. BTW, that whole “choose to be happy” line is crap. If were that simple, we wouldn’t have to go through everything you described in the post. Thanks for sharing.

  • Vicky
    March 1, 2016

    Thank you for opening the doors of this topic. It is what I feel. I am okay with being alone but I am so depressed and lonely right now. I don’t know who to talk how to create a conversation where I want someone to pity me. I feel if I do it is pitied.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      March 1, 2016

      That pity thing is hard. It can make you feel even worse. I have found that it helps me to share my feelings with a few people I really trust with my emotions. That way the thoughts aren’t just swirling around my head unchecked and snowballing. Writing this post also helped, not that it was easy. After I posted this, I had several people reach out to me here and in IRL to share similar sentiments. We are definitely not alone in the struggle. I hope that you are able to find the support you need, Vicky!

  • Roberta
    February 29, 2016

    I had a rough time in highscool but I’ve managed to “wake up from it” . It seemed like I was in a bubble. Sometimes I feel like I’m going back to that bubble but I remind myself how sad and depressed I was and how I do not want that to happen again and I get out of it. I’m sad you’re feeling this way, and hopefully soon you will get out of your bubble aswell! I wish you nothing but happiness and joy 🙂 Sending you lots and lots of hugs! xxx

    adventurousmiles.com

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      March 1, 2016

      I know what you mean about that “bubble.” When things are going well, there’s often a small part of me wondering when the other shoe is going to drop and I’ll find myself in that bubble again. Fortunately, since I posted this, things have started looking up, so I’m going to enjoy that. 🙂 Thanks so much for your comment, Roberta!

  • hbksloss
    February 26, 2016

    Very powerful and raw of piece. Thanks for sharing. Depression is a real disease and I think that there are many ways in and many ways out. I have spent times in my life in sad dark places, during which I couldn’t see any light or ways out. It was like hope had been sucked out of my life. I’m not sure all the causes for those times, but some of them were connected to geography. Our environment makes a difference and some locations on the planet were not healthy for me, no matter what I did. Might be the same for you.

    Please get some help, continue to try, don’t give up. Unfortunately there isn’t any single one-size-fits-all magic bullet. For me it took lots of work and lots of failed attempts before climbing my way back to hope and love and light. You are not alone, even though it feels like it.

    Good luck; I look forward to reading more about your self-evolution.

    PS: didn’t know you lived in the bay area. For some reason I thought you lived on the east coast. I’m in San Jose if you ever want to meet up for coffee.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      March 1, 2016

      In this case, my environment has hugely impacted my mental health. I’m making some changes in that regard which have me feeling hopeful about the future. Thank you for your supportive comment, Heidi!

  • Charlotte
    February 25, 2016

    Oh, my goodness. This one really hit me today. Thank you so much for sharing your honest and raw emotions with us. I have been struggling with a similar outlook lately and there are days when I just can’t focus on the light at the end of the tunnel because my world is dark and heavy.

    I also think there’s a huge part of me that wants to completely shed that from my world. To just take off depression and anxiety and hang that heavy a** cloak in a closet where I’ll never have to see it again… but I think that’s part of what the problem is. We are NOT our depression/anxiety, but those things are every bit a part of who we are. And we have to learn to make peace with those emotions, to invite them to sit at our table because they’ll come crashing the party whether we want them there or not… and fighting is (as you say) such a damn struggle. All the damn time.

    I wish there was something I could do take away some of that pain. I just hope you know that though we are separated by our computers, I am ALWAYS here if ever you need. Sending so much love your way.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      February 27, 2016

      Hi Charlotte – your kindness and generosity of spirit are very much appreciated! I remember reading a post of yours last year that touched me because of your honesty and willingness to be openly vulnerable, so I know you can relate. As much as I hemmed and hawed about publishing this post, I realized that it may be helpful to others as well (and it certainly is therapeutic for me)! So here we are.

      I hope that things improve for you soon too!

  • sourgirlohio
    February 24, 2016

    This isn’t my favorite topic, either, but I commend you for tackling it so openly. It’s hard to talk about it. It’s hard to admit it. It’s hard to face the stigma. So I, like you, rarely talk about it.

    Sometimes you just need a friend around to listen, but sometimes it is more than that. Sometimes, as you said, it’s more of a whole life pain than a situational pain….you’re depression is being exacerbated by your discomfort with your surroundings. And there’s not a quick and easy solution for that. I hope that the weight of the depression lifts for you as you begin to explore other, better options for yourself. And I’m sorry to hear it made your trip any less wonderful than it should have been. The curse of depression is the way it takes the joy out of what we find joyful in life and that’s just not right.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      February 27, 2016

      I often wonder what our world will look like when we cherish good mental health as much as we do physical. This stigmatization has prevented far too many people from seeking help.

      Things have already started to look up for me since I published this, so I’m feeling a little more hopeful. Thank you for offering support!

  • JoulesDellinger
    February 23, 2016

    I’m so sorry to hear that things have been difficult and I am one of those who wish I could make it all ‘okay’ with the perfect word or response. Just the fact that you are able to share this is a huge step, because so many people succumb to the shame and keep it inside. Isolating themselves even more. I certainly understand the feeling of beating yourself up for making bad decisions, while still having the mindset that it is part of a journey. Like the commentor above’s sister, I go through a ‘blue period’ every so often and it is hard to see the light at the end of the haze, but it always comes.

  • Jossie McManus
    February 23, 2016

    Hey Keisha, I check your blog out at least once a month because I absolutely love your writing. The words you use to describe whatever is going on are so powerful. I can “see” everything you describe, from feelings to food to places. You’re an amazing writer. I wish I could write even just 50% as well as you do. Anyhow, I can see your pain and see a strong woman who is speaking up about something so personal where many people will want to judge and give their 2 cents.

    I won’t judge but here is my 2 cents. I struggled through deep depression back in 2010. I did all the right things: exercise, eat better, sleep more, go out, write a grateful journal, etc. But everyday I would stare at my work computer for hours and do nothing but cry — I worked from home at that time. After several weeks of that, I pushed my (rolling) chair away from the computer and cried saying “you said if I give you my problems, that you’d take it from me, why haven’t you?” and I felt in my heart a question “Do you want me to take this from you? Are you ready to give this to me?” and I yelled “yes, take it away, take it all away” with tears covering my entire face and neck. All my anger for the person who had placed me in that hole turned to compassion in that instant, I am not making that up! I didn’t tell anyone close to me that I was “cured” because I had felt better before and then the depression would sneak up on me again. I waited a few days, I was smiling again and watering my plants. Then weeks, then a month went by and that’s when I knew I was coming out of it.

    That is the reason why I believe in God so deeply now. I had never asked God for anything before that time and didn’t pray. He was in a book, a bible…not out here…you know. But I was at my wit’s end and decided to give him a challenge. That was the first time I directly quoted the bible and “threw it” in God’s face to see if he would really hold his end of the deal, and he did. From that day on, God went from a theoretical book to a real, living being in my life.

    I thank you for reminding me of that day through your writing. I’m not trying to say that my situation is like yours, that I know anything about what you’re going through or that doing that will “work” for you. I’m just grateful to share it with you and I will be praying that you find your way out of this phase soon.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      February 24, 2016

      Thank you, Jossie! What a sweet message. It is helpful to hear how other people handle life’s challenges. Thank you for your comment and kind words!

  • AlvaradoFrazier
    February 23, 2016

    Sometimes people give platitudes because they don’t know what else to say, but they want to help. I hear your words. You are courageous to share them with your readers.

    My sister struggles with depression and spends two or three days in bed, the blankets over her head, not eating. This usually happens every four to five months. The rest of the time she says she feels the depression but manages to get up. (She’d tell us she had the flu).

    A year ago I read a book on EFT tapping, did several of the exercises and I felt much better. I suggested this to my sister and she borrowed the book and did the meditations online, and this helped her too.

    The activities which have helped her: walking for exercise, her Christian daily devotionals, and tapping http://www.thetappingsolution.com/ She does take an antidepressant and had to change twice to the one where she didn’t feel ‘overmedicated.’

    I share this not to say you ‘should’ try these, only that these activities are helpful to her and the EFT tapping has helped me.

  • Keesha "Isleland Gurl" Metcalfe
    February 22, 2016

    Hugs Keisha. Sometimes we see people smiling and we don’t know how hard it may be for them to just make it through the day. That’s why we should always try to treat others kindly because we never know what they may be going through inside. I think that blogging is a great way to express some of those feelings that depression and other emotional hurts may cause. I respect the fact that you have acknowledged your struggles and think this is a positive step towards recovery. I am adding you to my prayer list. Prayer changes things.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      February 25, 2016

      I wavered on whether to post this, but ultimately I thought it was important to share with others who might be able to relate. Also, I don’t like to present the false perception that life is great 100% of the time. Thank you so much, Keesha; I’ll take all the prayers I can get!

  • nissetje
    February 22, 2016

    I wish I had magic words for you. It is indeed horribly frustrating when people do the Pollyanna routine in response to depression. Or the pull-up-your-socks routine. I guess I just want to say I hear you; I know how hard it is; you are not alone. Hugs if you want them.

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