Be happy OR ELSE. (Scary music plays.)

Drain Bead

God go with you always.

Every problem has a solution. You just have to look dilligently enough to find the right one. I am glad you found yours and I would be even happier if, like you, more people looked inside themselves to find the strength to change. As you say, the rewards are infinitely more satisfying and pay out lifelong dividends.

OTOH, a chemical brain imbalance is a tough thing to change by sheer power of will. Sometimes a little medical help is not out of order. The problem, of course, is when it becomes a crutch or simply a treatment of a symptom and not the underlying cause.

I think you all missed a rather important sentence in my post.

I recognize that some forms of depression, as well as other depressive disorders such as bipolar disorder, are chemical in nature, and therefore must be controlled with drugs. There is nothing wrong with that–it’s like any other illness. I often compare it to diabetes, in fact, to people who don’t seem to understand that the drugs help these people stay alive.

The danger comes in thinking that all forms of depression are chemical in nature. I think anti-depressants are some of the most over-prescribed drugs out today (Ritalin being another, but that’s a whole 'nother issue). Seeing that I was depressed all my life, from my earliest memories on damn near any and every psychiatrist would assume that I would need the drugs for the rest of my life, when in reality I needed to change the cognitive patterns that I’d developed from that early age. And I did it without therapy because, as I said, I was too proud. Probably not one of my best characteristics, and it might have been easier for me if I had some sort of professional help (of course, not having medical insurance at the time was also a factor). But I DID it, so when people say that:

I think they’re making the problems as overly simplistic as those who say “Just BE happy” are. There’s no quick fix for depression, but it also does not have to be a lifelong medical condition for some people. While there are those who, as I said before, need the drugs for life, others need to change their outlook more, and should only use the drugs for a brief time, in order to keep them afloat while they learn to change their thought and behavior patterns. Of course, this doesn’t happen as often as it should–for example, one of my ex-boyfriends was on Prozac without being in therapy at the same time, even though he would admit to anyone who asked that his depression was NOT a chemical imbalance, but situational. He just had no desire to put in the effort to change himself and his ways of thinking about the world, when something as simple as taking a little pill could make him happy. I think everyone can see the dangers in that.

It’s possible to change yourself, with or without the help of a trained professional, in order to become a happier person. It’s not possible for everyone, but I think my story is proof that the issue isn’t as black and white as many people in this thread seemed to think it might be.

Misunderstanding cleared up. I was just somewhat put off bby your percieved tone. This comes from personal experience, a close friend who did not seek help, who I believed could handle it themselves, and who I consequently found hanging. Again, if you can do it yourself more power to you. I just make sure to tell everyone that therapy, with or without medication, is a good helpfull thing. You should seek outside opinions on your condition. Because if your condition is chemically related, you can believe you have fixed yourself, only to suffer a relapse. What can come with that is a termendous ammount of self guilt that you weren’t able to do it yourself. Along with further problems.

I do agree with you that America is overmedicated, especially children. I just see the help that can come from profesionals. And the harm that can come from denying that help.

Beware, Kaitlin, of assuming that a change of scenery and personnel will be a magic wand. Whilst I was at uni, I heard the statistic that 1/3 of the students there were on anti-depressants (Cambridge, England for those who are interested in details). Whilst I can’t support that statistic, I would not be surprised by it from my experiences.

I’m sure that a lot of those bright young people were similarly sure that a change of scene would help them out.

OTOH maybe I’m being unnecessarily down. I’ll just snap out of it…



Whilst I’m aware of the faux pas nature of replying to my own post…

just to say that the point I intended to pursue was this: if your expectations are that going to college (or changing jobs, or changing partners, or…) will be the solution to all your ills and should these expectations prove unfulfilled, it could be the trigger to even deeper depression. This has happened to too many of my friends.

The centre of and responsibility for your emotions lies in you. Some depressed people have the ability to ‘snap themselves out of it’. Some don’t. Deep down only you know which describes you. And either way please be on the road to recovery before you take the next step in your life.



“Just be happy.” Makes me think of those old Dr. Doom comics in the early 70’s, where in his home country, he says things like “That man isn’t smiling. Have him flogged.”

Now, in defense of these budding Latvian dictators, dealing with mental problems is something that’s very difficult for most people, especially the subtler ones like depression or ADD. Hell, it’s difficult for me to deal with other people’s, and I have enough in my family and my frontal lobes to fill . . . well, something big anyway.

As a result, I’ve also seen a lot of drug treatments. When they work, they can be amazing. Unfortunatly, you often have to go through several different guesses to find something that works. It took my brother almost two years. I still haven’t found one that has any noticable effect at all. The withdrawl between each try can be a bitch, though. During welbutren withdrawl, I actually attacked a pinball machine. Well, not attacked, but I did hit it once or twice.

I’d just like to second kabbe’s point that assuming that a major life change will help is not a safe assumption. College in particular, as that can cut you off from your support network, which in my case at least, made it worse.

You’d think I’d have learned something from this, but I did the exact same thing two years later. Make sure you’re together before you make a major change, especially one as expensive as college.
That being said, and to keep this vaugely debatish, I’ve found that I can actually “trick” my emotions, sometimes, by varing my breathing and posture. Not enough to actually snap myself out of a real depression, but it works great on minor irritation. Which I run into a lot, I might add.

“How much Keef is in this movie?”

If your depression is not making you actively suicidal, why not try a couple a few less drastic methods than medication? The therapy suggestion is great. You might also want to see if you can adjust your own body chemistry a little before relying a pharmecuticals. Antidepressants certainly have their place but I agree with everyone that they are way overprescribed. True story - when I met the man who whould later become my husband, he had recently been diagnosed with PTSD and had sufferred recurring deep, dark depressions for years. His therapist recommended antidepressants, but he was reluctant to start them unless he had no choice. We went first to a nutritionist who recommended a few basic dietary changes - get off the proccessed sugar, white flour, and caffeine for a month and see how you feel. Well, he felt quite a bit better (so did I, for that matter). Much more in control of his moods. He also took St John’s Wort (this was several years before it became Herb-'o-the-Week) for a month. The combination of support, dietarty changes and herbs seems to have worked. For ten years now, his moods have been normal and well within his ability to endure. He has never had to take the herbs again, and without the chemically induced mood swings of caffeine and sugar, he feels better than he ever did before.

Explore the options and find what works for you. Meds may be necessary, but why take them if they aren’t?

A thought on changing one’s mindset, with or without medication as needed: I’ve found it effective to remember that life is constantly changing. Good times do not last, and neither do bad ones. This makes me appreciate good times all the more, and gets me through bad times because I know that it can’t last forever. There’s a line in the movie “Tootsie”: “I just have to feel like this until I don’t feel like this anymore!” Yes, get clinical/medical help if you need it, but also realize that unhappiness is as much a part of being human as is euphoria. Especially good to remember when you have cheery psychos telling you to “snap out of it” or “smile.” Gack. Just tell them, “I feel crappy/sad/bummed/whatever right now, and I’ll feel happy when I’m damn good and ready!”

I’ve have some serious bouts with depression since I was 16 (I’m 27 now), and I’ve never found medication to help. The typical cycle is something like: go to psychiatrist, psychiatrist perscribes medication, feel better, report to psychiatrist, psychiatrist removes medication, feel awful again. Medication is a crutch under these circumstances.

I agree with Threemae that cognative-behavioural therapy can be successful. I’m undergoing a course right now and I am seeing positive benefits. The thing with CBT is that it can take a long time to be able to put the behavourial changes into practice, so you have to stick with it, something which can be difficult for people with depression, since (as I know all too well) depression tends to de-motivate you. Still, I think the CBT is working so far.

Kaitlin, I am glad for your sake that you are seeking help. Keep trying. As the other posters in this thread confirm, there are a lot of people out there who are willing to be supportive.

One other thing–try to stay away from funda…er, “evangelical” Christians. One of them once told me that, since God made us to be happy, my depression was proof that “something was wrong in my relationship with God.” Gee, thanks.

I’ve learnt that to get over your depression, you have to get over it yourself. No one else can REALLY help you, they are just there to aid you. I was depressed pretty damn badly for a few years, and even though I thought that the only way to solve the problem was through anti-depressants, I managed to tell myself that by taking them I would be stuck in a vicious cycle of false happiness, and that when I got off them, life would hurt even more. So, basically my conclusion is that you can solve your own problems, it just takes time.

At my father’s retirement party, someone gave him a “Big Mouth Billy Bass.” No, I am not making this up. It’s a rubber fish that, at the press of a button, will sing the great classics “Take me to the River” and “Don’t Worry- Be Happy.” When I’m depressed, I listen to the little rubber fishie sing to me. I dance to it. Then I go back to my depression.

Seriously, though, I have suffered from suicidal depression at times. Therapy helped me a little, but what ultimately ended up snapping me out of it was the fact that my life’s circumstances changed. When I came to the realization that life wasn’t static and neither were emotions, something changed. I don’t know if that helps.

I think that acknowledging your own unhappiness is a step above what most people do. I wonder how many people slap on a happy face and pretend that they’re not miserable.


As a depressed person (my friends claim it to be my worst trait), I know how you feel. Meds made me physically sick, so I had to nix that route.

Whenever somebody tells me to “Just be Happy,” I always feel like yelling “If I didn’t have an arm, would you tell me to grow it back??” or something to that extent. Depression has been stigmatized so much as “bad” and even though there has been tons of media around it, people still view it through distorted glasses.

One of my fundmentalist Christian friends gave me a book about God, saying it would help me. I didn’t, but I still give him credit for trying to help me the way he knew.

Dealing with my depression, Ive mainly just tried to perservere through it, think ing that if im stubborn enough, somehow I can chase it away.
Its worked alittle, but I still have those weeks where all I want to do in class is cry(and have done so also).

As one who uses Prozac off and on (20 mgs, a small dose for a big guy), I know well about depression. Picture your shittiest semester in college. The one with asshole roomates and very hard classes. Remember waking up in the morning, looking around, and going back to sleep because you just don’t want to face the day. Extend that for over a year, that’s what I went through.

Yes, I toughed it out. I kept my job, and still managed to keep up a more limited social life, but I still felt awful. I would spend most of my weekends in bed, watching TV, and playing on the internet. OK I still do these things, but not as much. I also am back in college, still have a full time job, exercise much more, have more friends and am getting laid a lot more. Toughing it out almost killed me.

At my worst, I finally went to my primary care physician who gave me a prescription to zoloft and a perscription to go to a behaviorial clinic.

I talked to a couple of counselors, but therepy did not work. Talking it out was not the answer for me. She sent me to the psychiatrist. Unlike any I had ever previously seen (I was a tough kid too). He told me "you’re smart, you’re young (34 at the time), you’re healthy, and you’re white (he was black). You’re problem is definitely a chemical imbalance, I recommend Prozac or Zoloft. I had tried Zoloft and felt weird, so I opted for Prozac. It made me feel a little weird too but in a kind of fun way. I rather quickly noticed my concentration level while on my job increased. It still took about 6 weeks before it really started working (the weird feeling goes away). In the process I took a camping trip to the Rio Grande and went skiing. I was making the effort along with taking the medication.
I have dystimia. It is not as bad as bipolarity which medication is mandatory, but when things get tough or stressful I get the blues bad.

Yea, I toughed it out. I recommend getting some help.

Remember this quote:
“Most people travel across the Atlantic and only change the sky above them.”
-(I forgot)
The moral is simple: Moving changes your surroundings, not you. If you view the people in your town as loving, caring people, they will be so all over. If you view the people in your town as spiteful, evil bigots, they will be so all over. Kind of reminds me of the Zen master and the two travelers (yes, I know it).