Being happy requires more than smiles

Artificial solutions to mental illness are only short-term


A good start to the week is very important and everyone starts their week in differently. Last week, I started my week by locking myself in my car at 11 p.m. and screaming from a stress-induced panic attack.

This was not a new thing either.

Social anxiety disorders affect 6.8 percent of the U.S. population and in 2014, nearly 6.7 percent of all adults had experienced a depressive episode and nearly eight percent of teens suffer from serious depression according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

“You just need to be happy,” say a countless number of people in response to my depression.

“You just need to relax,” say a countless number of people in response to my anxiety.

This seemed to be the go-to solution for every time that I explained to someone that I suffer from depression and social anxiety. I found it odd that this solution always came from someone who has never really experienced living with these issues.

So I took them literally. Even though I may not agree with the idea of just being happy, I was tired of being sad. I was tired of not wanting to go to the grocery store out of fear of seeing people from my school. I was tired of wanting to skip school and cry myself to sleep when I got up in the morning. I was tired of my family just telling me to get over it.

So I decided to get over it, for just one week.

For my experiment, I came to school with a positive attitude. I felt like I was forcing an emotion that I did not usually feel. I felt like I was lying to my friends and family. To help, I wrote down positive messages on post-it notes. I told my English teacher that she had nice hair. I wished my Statistics teacher a happy day. I told my Macroeconomics teacher some funny jokes. All things to make other people happy, even if I was not always feeling the same way.

When someone suffers from any sort of depression or anxiety disorder, it is not really a logical thing to fix and it is not always fixable. If I could come to school feeling happy, I would. If I could go out in public without wanting to just lock myself in my room all the time, I would. There are days when it was easy and I felt like a leader. There were also days when it was hard and I did not even feel like a follower but rather someone who was dragging everyone else behind.

Studies have shown that people can improve their happiness but actually improving happiness is not as easy as people make it out to be. For me, it actually made my emotions more potent. When I was happier, I crashed and I was even more depressed and anxious.

Depression and anxiety are not incurable. Many people find ways of coping by using humor or finding a hobby that relaxes them. Many people also seek therapy or take medication which allows them to continue their lives free of interruption. 

The severity of depression and anxiety is different for everyone and if they could just get over it, they would.”

— Grant Spicer

I have always used humor to brush off the seriousness of my issues, as many can learn to live with their depression or anxiety. However, there are also many people who lose their battle, so they are either institutionalized or they injure themselves.

With the right mindset, depression and anxiety can be resolved. If you know someone who suffers from these issues, talk to them, listen to them and be there for them in any way that they need. It shows that you care. Arguing and saying that they can get over it just makes them feel like they are an inconvenience. The severity of depression and anxiety is different for everyone and if they could just get over it, they would.

Overall, this last week showed that putting up a happy facade just does not represent the kind of person that I am. My outward liveliness was forced and that deepened the struggle I faced inside myself. Asking people to “just be happy” is not a solution. Helping people to be at peace with themselves is the solution.