Stigma, Part Two: I Don’t CHOOSE to be Unhappy.

Recently, the following was posted on the Twin Cities OCD Facebook page:

Happiness is a state of mind –

It is important that you understand and appreciate that your happiness lies within. Consider this – no one can make you unhappy if you have decided for sure that you will be happy in every situation. If you have made up your mind to be happy, you can always seek out the positive aspects of a situation and remain happy. Life may throw challenges at you but solutions will come faster and to you if you face them with a smile on your face.
Sounds easy? Its only a challenge at first-then momentum happens. 

And while I don’t think the poster meant to be offensive, I deleted it immediately.

People with mental illnesses are not choosing to be unhappy.  That is such an upsetting suggestion!  It’s like someone has accused me of poisoning myself.  Or being too weak or stupid to choose the right option.  It’s like saying, “Look, you have to understand that if you just choose every day to not have diabetes, it will get easier and easier.”

I don’t choose to have a body that absorbs serontonin too quickly.

do choose to take pills to slow that process down.  And to seek out therapy that gives me tools to manage my mental illness.  I can choose to treat it, but I can’t just choose to not have OCD or depression.

Please stop insisting that I am responsible for my mental illness.  

This, my friends, this is stigma.


Related posts:
More Stigma
Things That Offend Me
5 Easy (ha!) Steps for Finding the Right Medication
“Happy Pills”

11 thoughts on “Stigma, Part Two: I Don’t CHOOSE to be Unhappy.

  1. If it were just that simple – just choosing to be happy – this world would be a far different plant. Thanks for always speaking the truth!

  2. You are so right, Jackie. This is the stigma I face often when people make judgements about my depression as well. I’ve heard, “Get over it”, “Look on the bright side”, “Look for the silver lining”, and “Think positive”… if it were that easy there would not be so many meds and therapy that make peoples’ lives better – over time, not just by “looking on the bright side”.

  3. I hear this same thing about anxiety, e.g., “Just stop worrying,” or “Just be care-free.” It makes mental illness out to be a decision. Which is indeed upsetting. I think it’s a result of people without a mental illness having no reference point with which to understand the uncontrollableness of it. So thanks for pointing out this stigma.

  4. Thank you for the post! I find myself thinking all the time that the little things people say show that even though we have come a long way, there is still so much ignorance.

  5. Pingback: Is Anxiety A Lack Of Faith?

  6. Pingback: Choosing Joy Over Misery (Plus a Thoughtful Caveat) | Jackie Lea Sommers

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