Those blog posts I write where I open up and bare a little of my soul always, always leave me heavily depleted. I don't have a problem writing them beyond finding the right words to express what I'm trying to say, but I do find responses overwhelming, and I have to move away from the spotlight to recover.
I have read everyone's comments and messages and appreciate them all, even if I haven't been able to respond personally.
I think most of you understood where I was coming from with my post, but I want to follow up on a few things.
I wasn't suggesting that people shouldn't be allowed to be happy - of course they are. I'll be the first to share when I'm happy about something, just as I would share when I'm unhappy about something. But constant happiness is unattainable, and there's no evidence to suggest that attempting to portray happiness in order to feel happiness works.
Secondly, yup, there are some fantastic quotes to be found, some deep and thoughtful and provoking quotes. I'm not sure they all need to be photoshopped onto a stock photo and shared endlessly, but yes, there's some good ones. There are also some truly terrible and meaningless ones. And I kinda think that quotes are best used appropriately with context, y'know?
And finally - my post wasn't a dig at optimism. It was a post about realism. There's nothing wrong at all with optimism, but the absence of it doesn't always lead to pessimism.
Yup, I'm feeling a little defensive. Actually, I'm pretty pissed off with those that cry "stop being so negative!" whenever happiness, or the attainment of happiness, is questioned. As if happiness is the only goal to have - if you're not happy you must be sad, and we must avoid sadness at all costs.
Sadness, just like anger and optimism and cynicism and happiness, are all healthy emotions. They become unhealthy when they're out of balance, and happiness is no exception to that.
Yes, I've issues with happiness industry (because yes, there's a whole industry built around making money by trying to sell you happiness - it's not just my cynicism - Google it). I've issues with the idea that we mustn't talk about other emotions, that we mustn't show other emotions, that we mustn't acknowledge other emotions. When I look at people in that constant pursuit of happiness, all I see underneath it all are people who feel sad or unfulfilled.
I've spent years in therapy. I've seen many different psychologists and psychiatrists. My earliest memory of feeling depressed was sitting on my bed at night, staring out of the window, feeling bleak, like I didn't belong and that one day I would have to get myself away from here. I was 9 years old.
I didn't have a particularly happy childhood. I lived through abuse and bullying and family break-ups and learnt things that a child shouldn't have to learn. I found my way into adulthood without any support for my depression or for any of the other issues that life threw up. I survived by turning inwards and doing what I could to find my own way and work things out for myself (quite unsuccessfully at first; I never learnt to be confident and was too easily persuaded to do things I didn't want to do by people who thought they knew what was best for me)
It's almost 40 years since the issues that rewired my brain started, and in that time the most valuable thing that I've learnt is to be who I am and not hide how I feel, regardless of how other people feel about it. It's taken a long time and a lot of pain to reach this point, and I won't allow anyone to intimidate me any more into behaving how they feel I should.
I'm pretty content these days - I've put some distance in and eventually found a path of my choosing. That doesn't mean I'm cured of my depression, though. Achieving a cure for depression is to my mind as unattainable as constant happiness. I'm ok with that, really. When the black dog hits and the bleakness kicks in I lose sight of that acceptance but for the most part, I've come to accept that depression is part of my journey, and that I'm just fine even when I'm not happy.