How To Deal With Unhappiness

I am not good at making lists. When I see “How To” guides, composed of listicles, part of me always rolls my eyes. One half of me thinks nothing is ever as simple, and the other half goes “and who the hell are you to tell me what to do?”

No, I will not present you with a list. No list will solve your unhappiness, nor will this post. And no list has ever solved mine. I won’t tell you what to do, either. Yes, yes, do do yoga, and yes, eat healthier, and yes, get out more, but ultimately, unhappiness and depression are much more complicated than an amped up exercise routine and a change of diet.

I am simply telling you here, in case you are curious, how I deal with it. How I, sometimes, embrace it. And also, how I know when it’s time to ask for help.

Actually, there is no specific time to ask for help. Unlike what the back of medication bottles say, it is not after 1 week of feeling the symptoms that you should consult your doctor. Get it as often as you want, as early as you want (and can), as soon as the waves of unhappiness hit, even if you’re in denial of the feelings that are overcoming you. Talk. Can I say it again? Talk.

When my latest bout of depression came, I held it in. I went out one weekend to a bar, only to excuse myself to go to the bathroom, where I felt it was the only place I could let myself weep. I had been miserable the whole night (that whole month, really), but didn’t want to show it. Whenever I was alone, or whenever I hid myself from social gatherings to be alone, I wept. Finally, I cracked. I told my partner and then it went away. For a little bit, it went away. It might not work for you, but talking, being open about your unhappiness, can sometimes lift the heaviest cloud of murkiness that’s overcome you. That’s how I feel when I’m unhappy: trapped in a cloud of murkiness, and sometimes buried at the bottom of a deep-set well.

But sometimes, I also derive immense pleasure from my unhappiness. Though I’ve been told to turn off my depressing music (an ex-boyfriend of mine told me my musical preferences could be summed up as “sad-bastard music”), or to not watch heart-wrenching movies, it’s these touching melodies, these poignant images, that make me feel my emotions in the healthiest of ways. It reminds me that my unhappiness is not singular, and though what I feel is painful, it augments my sense of being alive to the billionth percent. It cleanses me. It lets me purge the tears and it fills me with effervescence. To feel joy, I must allow myself to be sad first.

I remind myself that though my sadness is very much part of me, it does not have to control me. I can make the most of this sadness. I can use it to my creative advantages. I can write about it like I am now. I can sing about it. I can go to a museum and feel incredibly emotional in front of, for example, this painting, because it reveals a truth about me I never knew how to express. My sadness is my rawest human feeling, and I’m not sure I would feel quite as whole without it.

My sadness also makes me particularly attune to other peoples’ feelings. I understand the consequences of my words, maybe too much, sometimes choosing silence over empty phrases. My sadness makes me feel inadequate at times, it makes me overthink, especially myself. But I like to think my sadness opens me up to the world, too. It makes me inquisitive. It forces me to seek out the small wonders, the beauty in the mundane. It makes me appreciate the human sitting in front of me because a detail of theirs touches me. Yes, I am sometimes sad, but I am so, so easily touched in the most wonderful ways.

Oh, how my heart feels heavy sometimes, but how you can make it feel so bright.