I Don't Want to Be Happy

I have extremely severe depression and anxiety. I can't work. I don't leave the house. I don't have any friends. I can't function at all. I have been hospitalized for suicidal thoughts and behaviors five times in the past year. I want to be functional, but I don't want to be happy. I have been in therapy for almost two years. I just can't seem to get past the extreme sense of loss I have when I think about "letting go" of the depression and anxiety. It has been part of my life for 15 years and it feels like the only friend I have that will stay by me. At the same time I hate it and try to numb the emotions with drugs and food. I like numb; I like apathy. I hate happiness or joy or even small amounts of pleasure. They feel wrong and painful. They make me feel dirty and vulnerable. I don't think that I can learn to function without accepting positive emotions and experiences as being okay. But I don't know how. I don't know what to do. I am frustrated. My therapist, while he has been impressively patient with me, is, also, frustrated. I worry that he will give up trying to help me. He has helped me a lot. I stopped a number of destructive behaviors working with him. I used to self-injure, purge, and use IV drugs, but I don't anymore. It is just that my progress is at a complete impasse and has been for four or five months.


Ben's Answer:

Fear and resistance take many forms - but suffering and alienation from one's true nature always come down to the same thing. Fear. For you, there is a fear of pleasure, a fear of letting go of your depression and your pain. But still, it's all just fear. You've obviously got a lot of courage too, or you wouldn't have gone to therapy for 2 years, and put an end to some of those particularly self-destructive behaviors. You must have a pretty good therapist too. It's not uncommon to reach an impasse in therapy. Sometimes your can move through it if you don't give up - but sometimes it's time to try a new approach for a while, or add another element to your self-help routine.

Exercise might be a good one. After all - nobody likes to exercise. It's painful and pretty ungratifying. And if it starts to become too easy, you can always push yourself harder so that it doesn't feel good. Being a little masochistic is sometimes useful when it comes to physical exercise. And in the end, you might like what you feel, and be healthier, mentally and physically at the same time.

There's a great little book called "The Depression Book" by Cheri Huber, that looks at Depression from a Zen perspective. It's very readable (actually written in hand-written script like a child's book), and it's one of my favorites. Lots of gems in it. One thing she suggests is that you try indulging your depression - instead of hating yourself for being depressed - pamper yourself, close all the curtains, put on your PJ's and revel in your depressed state for a while.

The "extreme sense of loss" that you feel when you think about letting go of your depression is your ego fighting to stay in control. You think your depression is your identity and without it you would be lost - not existing anymore. Of course that's terrifying. But it's a big illusion. You would still exist. You can't not exist, because you are eternal consciousness. You are not your thoughts or your feelings. Thoughts and feelings change, but consciousness does not.

As long as you fight against this fear of losing your depression, you keep yourself imprisoned by it. So rather than continue to fight against yourself, trying to "let go" of this depressed self, try embracing it completely and see what that's like.

"Even though this depression has been my friend and my identity for 15 years, I accept myself and my feelings as they are."

Thank you for your honesty and insight. Most people aren't aware of the ways they are attached to their suffering. I wish you the best. Don't give up.

Ben

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Sep 25, 2017
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i want to kill myself
by: kayla

am an 18 year living with deppresion as well i have anger issues as well little bit i have mentel pains my friend is happy all time i have a phone i loved i was ocd to it i would listen to music and it would help me sleep i issue my parents dont understand when i was upset my mom snatch the phone tired to get back but couldnt my parents make me be happy all time and i dont am fucking done i want to end my life like now i never got 7 taken a way before theres a past that whole peple dont if my mom would let me keep my phone in my room used it the next things would get better but the decide to go hid make me wait 5 fucking days i hate it my life mersible as shit kill me now

Aug 29, 2017
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me neither
by: Anonymous

fuck happiness how can I be happy knowing the people that fucked me up to become what I am just get a free pass I bet they dont even know or care what they did to me, I dont want to be happy with the knowledge i am still a loser without any accomllishments while they walk about with theyr perfect little lives,houses cars jobs and kids

this depression is at least safe... i know this feeling I've always had it, I seem to revel in my misery, i feel like screaming out help like 20 times a day and 10 timws a day I wish i was dead,maybe i should just end it,fuck humanity fuck this planet

Jul 14, 2017
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Sad and not know what make me happy again.
by: Anonymous

I'm 68 married male going through sevre sadness , anxiety, Dipression, emotional/physical/mental pains, hopeless, worthless, helpless with 24/7 nagative thoughts racing mind,
Unrelaxed due failier to cope with the current situation of my broken family due Alcholism of my Alcholic. Bipolar, suicidal married son having house wife n 4 kids running small biz which seems to become liability due mismanagement and lost intrest. He last week fall down from ist floor breaking both feets toes with skull injury. Just released from Trauma center hospital after both feet toe replacement surgeries. Life became miserable for whole family. Also disturbing the life of Elder married son, his wife n 3kids who trying to intervene and help his sibling n his family but reluctant due nagative attitude of the Alcholic son besides my prolonged mental sickness frustrated him too much ch where he stopped talks by to me while looking Gingsen under same roof. I'm completly broken and sad and confused and don't know what to do and what makes me happy n recovered. I'm completly lost n my mother be stopped working and I feel dead and numb soul, just painfull body moving around since morning to night completly restless and at night get 1mg Clonazipam n try sleep. Again next morning wakeup tired, dipressed, fearful and lost worried how to come out of bed and how to spend the day expecting any other fearfull event. I honestly wants to get out the f this daily trap cycle which is kind Pliny. Can someone help me get out. I'm tired and don't see any Improvment or change. Please advice, guide and help m. I lost a bytes in l Reb oo

May 23, 2017
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Happiness doesn't feel right
by: Anonymous

As far as I know, I have only had moderate depression. I still get up and do things, but inside I am sitting in the corner slumped over. I have tried multiple things to be happy, but when I am, I want to go back to being depressed and unhappy. I am not sure why by I guess I just love the feeling of not being happy. When I'm having fun and someone sees that and like to see it, I automatically go depressed mode. I don't know why any of this happens to me, it just does.

Ben's reply:

I think it would be worth exploring this pattern deeper. Therapy could be a great help. Journaling about your thoughts and feelings could be another good way to get some insight about your patterns. Often the part of us that is attached to being unhappy is also the "part" of us that feels or hopes they will be more loved, or get more attention or care if they are sad. Ask yourself, "what would I lose, or have to give up if I allowed myself to be truly happy?"

-Ben

Apr 06, 2017
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Why be happy?
by: Anonymous

The statement is contradicting. Saying I don't want to be happy, but then saying you are trying this and that- sounds to me like you do want to be happy but are afraid to, as the reply states.
I've come to a realization that I don't want to be happy, I don't want to fight depression or anxiety, I don't want to change me. It's others who want the change because they are uncomfortable with a person who doesn't fit their mold of what people should be.
I am comfortable in myself. I like being alone. I do my job at work. I am not paid to cheer other people up or laugh at their jokes or even to smile at them. Yet- if I am less than perky at work, there is something wrong with me? I am labeled? No! I prefer quiet and being alone, but others, who have to have other people around and who always have to have things to say about things, no matter how irrelevant think I am the one that has to change? I have just as much right to be depressed about things in my life as others have the right to be happy about things in theirs. I don't go around telling them to quit laughing because it makes me uncomfortable! Take these pills so you can conform to society? No thank you anymore. Go to counseling and talk to people who haven't lived what you lived but can tell you how to handle it? No thank you. I've spent enough money, time and side effects on being what others think I should be. Now, I am just going to be me and people can just get over themselves.

Oct 24, 2016
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Laughable
by: Anonymous

You said "You can't not exist, because you are eternal consciousness. You are not your thoughts or your feelings. Thoughts and feelings change, but consciousness does not" And that's total BS. The only thing that gives us consciousness IS our ability to think. What a bunch of crap this is.

Ben's reply:

Thinking and consciousness are not the same thing. If they were, then you would have to be thinking every moment of every day, or else you would go "unconscious" and have black outs, periods of no awareness. Awareness does not depend on the processing of thoughts. This has been experienced, written about and investigated for thousands of years in the meditative traditions. You can only find out for yourself through your own introspection.

Aug 11, 2016
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I hate myself and life
by: Anonymous

I am 19 years old girl.i feel so hopeless.i feel like I don't have any hope and reason to live.i feel sad sometimes.i am very much anxious.i think too much..I think shit sometimes I just can't get my mind out of these shit thoughts.i am very afraid of these all.i try alot to be normal but I can't.day by day it's increasing I don't know what to do.i stopped enjoying everything I used to enjoy before.and mood swings occur very frequently.i feel like hating myself.i just want to be at home all alone.befote 2 years I was much more happy.i had a bf I loved so much but we broke up I used to miss him.but after that I made bfs. i fall in love too.but still day by day I don't know why it's happening with me I feel sooo soo hopeless.but one thing somehow that ex bf of mine before 2 years is still in my mind I don't know sometimes when I am sad why I want to think about him only. I forget him slowly slowly but I think may be somewhere in my heart he will be forever.but i can fall in love I can be happy with someone else but I can forget anyone totally except him.sometimes I feel like those days were so good.anyway I just want some suggestions that's all.to be happy again and to be normal.please help.

Jan 03, 2016
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I don't want to be happy.
by: Anonymous

Hi, I spent most of my childhood alone. My family would go out on the weekends, and do activities, but after a few weekends in a row. I would stay home. Clean the house, and get supper ready for my family. Because I knew when the got home they would be hungry, and dad hated spending unecessary money on fast food.
I stayed alone in the house 75% of my childhood (and that's being generous) I enjoy hiking, and kayaking but I would never say I'm actually happy.
I'm sort of an underwelmed apathetic kind of person.
This mind set has coused me to lose all the people I've ever had that did spark some kind of life into me.
I've considered suicide in the past, or joining the military hoping that at least then my life would feel like it had some meaning. I never told anyone about my suicidal thoughts because I knew it would hurt my mother.
I've been to a therapist she tells me that that's all in my past, and it's time to move forward, and I've tried. I want to go to school. I want to study anthropology, I want to find someone or something that moves me.
But I don't want to be happy. It's not because I'm afraid of losing who I am. To be honest I'm not sure what or who I am.
I look at happiness as mountain top experience. A brief obtainable state, where you forget about your problems and act like a complete idiot.
I've used weed, and alcohol in The past to try and make life move faster, but it doesn't ever really work.
I don't want to be happy because it's a lie.
No one is truly happy all the time. Most people become content with ideal or a routine, and decide that that's happiness.
I'm glad they can accept that, however their logic is inherently flawed.
My brother for example, is a long distance runner, he's 25 and extremely ambitious. He's married, owns 2 houses, and runs a small construction business in our home town.
He, also can't go a day without trying to change. Or control everyone and everything around him. He has extreme anxiety. If he forgets which cardinal direction he's facing he goes into complete meltdown mode. He falls to the ground and begins to vomit.
He tells me that if I want to be happy, I should go to school become a Dr or a lawyer. Then I'll have all the money and that will make me happy. I also need to find a wife (I'm 23) because that will make me happy. My conclusion is that happiness is relative. People have their own ideals of what is "happy", but I believe in concrete definitions, and understanding.
Happy is an emotion it's fleeting like all the rest. You can be withdrawn and contribute to society. I have people tell me on a daily basis that I make them happy, or feel better. They see me as a depressed loner with a kind heart. I really need put that much thought into it.
Now to end the rant, thank you if you've made it this far.
I don't want to be happy because you cannot be truly "happy" life doesn't work that way. Attempting to be happy everyday is like trying to jump off the edge of the world and grab the sun. Even if you could, it would burn you.
So, my advice to all of us out there who don't want to be happy. Stop being "afraid to lose you" and start taking life for what it is. Since I've started this approach. I wouldn't say I'm "happy" but the suicidal thoughts have waned, and the world is really beautiful place.

Ben's Reply:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You have a lot of wisdom and heart. And you're absolutely right - what most people think of as "happiness" is just another emotional state that comes and goes. The happiness that we get from external things, like status, money, houses, even a family, is all secondary to what you can find within yourself. The paradox is that the more you can accept yourself in the moment, along with whatever emotions are there, the more content you will tend to feel. Don't try to be someone else's idea of happiness. Kindness is more important. And the more kindness and acceptance you give to yourself, the more peace you will find.

Best Wishes,
Ben

Jan 03, 2016
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forever depressed
by: Anonymous

I am or have been many things. Depressed, anxious, bi-polar?,
loud, irritating so on and so forth. I've been depressed since I got pregnant at 15. A moment I live over and over again knowing it changed my life. I'm now 64 and have not much life left. Even if I hadn't gotten pregnant I was never that good at school although I wanted to be so desperatly. See I can't spell... ha ha .
I have been in and out of therapy more times than I can count. I have many things most people would be happy to have. A roof, food, husband, children, grandchildren, travel. I see all this and then know i'm a sick idiot. What the hell more do I want. How much more is there. I'll still keep trying new things. Can't seem to get suicide right. Oh, well.

Mar 04, 2015
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Empathy and advice
by: Anonymous

Hi
I can identify with how you feel and have been trying to find/read theory about it. I also am at an Impasse in my therapy and have been for years. I was hospitalised at 16 I am now 35 and am what I call a walking depressed. I struggle on and force myself to do things but I am never happy. I am scared of happiness because it is another thing I fear I will fail at. Also who will i be if I am not depressed!

However! Life is a journey and full of ups and downs. What is the worst that can happen if you fail?? You are unlikely to feel worse than you do now. You change and evolve gradually over time so are never the same person from one day or year to the next anyway.

One thing I need to do is appreciate the obstacles I have overcome and the successes and progress I have made. It sounds like you need to do the same.

Sometimes it can feel like one step forward and another step back but like the other poster said maybe try a different approach. Or maybe just rest for a bit and be pleased with what you have acheived so far and reward yourself for that. Therapy is hard work and you need to relax and take a break from it sometimes. Also I always say relaxing is important and often needed as part of therapy.

Good luck and don't give up! You can do it, we all can if we feel (even embrace) the fear and do it anyway to quote one of my favorite self help texts. Praise and coach yourself as you would another.

Small positive steps can lead to exponential positive changes and can break ingrained habits. This leads to a slow but steady self therapy/recovery that you may not even notice until you look back!

xxxx

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