I want to be happy with my whole body and soul. As much as I want to let depression go just “be happy,” I can’t force myself to stop being depressed because that’s not how depression works. Remember that Bobby McFerrin song “Don’t worry, Be happy?” I have always admired the simplicity of that song. I also loved the way that Bobby McFerrin was able to make music with his mouth like a bad ass. Whenever I heard the whistling in that song, I wished that I could follow simple instructions. It seemed like such a wonderful idea! It would be great if I just didn’t worry about things. If I could let go and be content, that would be wonderful and amazing. It would be a euphoric experience if I was able to just “be happy.” As much as I would love to be happy, snap my fingers and make that happen, I can’t do that. Happiness isn’t a magical thing that occurs by willing it to happen. I can make the best effort to take actions that will help myself. I can learn and grow by being introspective and letting go of destructive thought patterns.
Depression is fueled by maladaptive thought patterns. When we continue to think in a negative way depression is content to stay with us. The goal of cognitive behavior therapy is to stop thinking in a distorted manner and transform these pejorative thoughts into productive ones.
Negativity is like gasoline that you’re putting into a human gas tank of a depressed person; negativity fuels depression. We also can be fueled by things that are positive, but it’s about going to a different fuel station. It’s also about changing your relationship to negative thoughts. It’s important to recognize that negative thoughts are destructive and understand that there is a more productive way to think. We may not be able to change the fact that we’re feeling depressed, but we can’t accept it. Acceptance of depression helps us to work through these uncomfortable feelings and come out the other side. We can deal with this reality and take actions to change our lives. It’s going to take time and accepting the fact that getting well from depression isn’t an instantaneous process, but it is part of the journey to mental health.
I realize that I cannot follow Bobby McFerrin’s advice. I know that he didn’t want us to worry, but I am a worrier by nature. I am a Jewish mother and I have OCD; this is a recipe for worrying. He also told us to be happy. I would love to be happy and that is a lifelong pursuit, not to be confused with the game “Trivial Pursuit.” I miss that game. I remember putting tiny little pieces of a colorful pie into the game pieces. I recently came out of a depressive episode which was exhausting to deal with. The relief I felt after this episode was exhilarating. It showed me that there is hope, and even if I am worrying it’s OK because I will eventually be happy.