For those of us with depression, opposites do not attract.
We are not drawn to happy, upbeat, positive people and they are not drawn to us. In fact, we repel those who dare crack a smile at us. Occasionally a happy person tries to help us but inevitably we push them away. I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t want to hang around someone with depression. I don’t even want to hang around myself when I’m depressed.
In fact, happy, upbeat people are really annoying when you have depression. “Can’t you see how much pain I am in? Don’t you realize that I have no interest in you? Would you please just get your happy ass out of here?”
But years of therapy, sobriety and watching Forrest Gump a few dozen times has taught me that just as “stupid is as stupid does” - “happy is as happy does.” In other words, happiness is not going to come knock me upside the head. I have to do the work. I have to seek it out and that means seeking out people who have the kind of happiness I want.
The first step on this journey is finding out who and what makes you happy. For example, a Birkin bag would not make me happy. Ergo, hanging out with people who derive their happiness from acquiring things like Birkin bags are probably not the kind of people with whom I am going to find happiness.
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with Birkin bags. I’m just saying that for me to expect to find true happiness among people whose passion is acquiring things like Birkin bags is futile. It doesn’t mean I can’t have friends who like Birkin bags. In fact, I do. It just means that I’m not going to share their passion.
However, people who share my passion for dogs, CrossFit, dogs, current events, dogs, scuba diving, dogs, skiing, dogs, fly fishing and – did I mention dogs? – these are people I should seek out. I should create relationships and memories with these people when I am healthy so that when – God forbid – I slide into another depression, these people won’t annoy me. These are the people who will want to give me back my passion.
For healthy people, this probably sounds like a no-brainer. But if you are a people-pleasing, co-dependent, alcoholic, perfectionist like me, this is a revolutionary way to live. Living up to your own standards, rather than the standards of someone else, is a mind blowing concept.
Which brings me to Marceline. I can’t say Marceline and I are BFFs. We never hang out or talk on the phone. Actually, I don’t even have her phone number. But Marceline and I share the same passion – exercise and motherhood.
Everyday she posts on her Facebook page something that makes me smile. I respond. She responds and so it goes. She is perpetually positive but not in a Hallmark-moment kind of way. I saw her today and she was…happy. And that made me happy. I have other friends – acquaintances – like Marceline. Pete. Lewis. Charlie. Jeff. Whitney. Adam. Dog (my dog). These are people with whom I do fun stuff. I like them. Being around them makes me happy.
They would not annoy me if I am ever again in a depression. I have a feeling I would still want to be around them. More important, they would want to be around me.
Maybe opposites would attract.
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Best of Our Blogs: February 22, 2013 | World of Psychology (February 22, 2013)
Last reviewed: 18 Feb 2013