Hello, so I have been diagnosed with depression for a while now, and I’ve had depression for about two years. There are times where I want to get better, but most of the time I feel like I don’t want to get better, and I want my depression to stay. I feel like it’s because, I’m scared that if I’m not sad, or depressed then I won’t be cared for, and people will stop showing me the love that I want them too. Because I feel like when I’m happy they will have no reason to show me love, and hug me, etc. You get the point. And I just want advice on how to want to feel better, and how to stop feeling like I want my depression to stay, because it needs to go.
Hi, welcome to Heart Support.
I well understand what you’re saying. You must have some really good people around you, as it’s all too common for people to avoid a depressed person. It’s hard to predict how people will act when they know you are feeling better. They may very well spend less time with you, but you might notice that they are much happier to see you when they do come around. That’s because through empathy, depression can be contagious. If the depression is diminished, they are more likely to see you as you are rather than just as a depressed person. If your symptoms are well managed, you are in a position to be supportive of others who still need to manage their depression.
The people who have stayed with you through this process, I’m pretty sure would respond lovingly, if you simply tell them that you need a hug, and to feel cared for. That’s a basic need, whether or not a person is depressed.
Be generous with the love that you show them. Love that is enhanced by gratitude really warms the heart.
Thank you for responding, I appreciate it. I guess I never really thought about how people would react if I was genuinely happy, I just thought about if they would leave me be, or not. I did read somewhere that humans crave what they feel they lack, and thats my problem. But thank you again, I really needed advice on that, and I’m going to work on wanting to be happier, and not focus on what peoples reactions will be, because thats out of my control. I hope you have a good day
Welcome to Heart Support! You came to the right place.
I and a lot of other people on here understand what you’re feeling. I struggled for a decade, and just started getting better a couple years ago. Through that process, I’ve learned a lot of the clinical stuff from my therapists that helps explain what you’re feeling.
First off, with ongoing depression, your brain physically rewires itself. Serotonin and norepinephrine levels go out of whack, receptors shut down, and in a way we become physically incapable of feeling happiness. That’s why so many people with depression feel numb when they’re not feeling soul-ripping sad–their brains only respond to sadness. Meds help stabilize brain chemistry, but it takes HARD work and time in therapy to relearn a happiness response. People who tell you to try being more positive only have a small part of the whole process.
When depression becomes so hardwired into you, it becomes your comfort zone and part of your identity. You know how to be depressed, but have no idea how to be happy, and the idea is terrifying. I think everyone in this community who struggles with depression can identify with that. I’ve been “okay” for a couple years now, and it’s only been about the past month that I’ve considered that maybe my identity as a depressed person is obsolete. Losing a part of my identity has me feeling floaty. It’s kinda uncomfortable. It’s a lot more secure to cling to what you know, even if that isn’t great.
Secondly, what you’re describing is what my therapists have described as learned helplessness. We lean into our personal shortcomings to avoid the monumental task of getting better and to keep people around. Learned helplessness is a cry for help, which in a lot of cases goes unanswered and reinforces our beliefs that we don’t matter. The term “learned helplessness” may sound dismissive, but it’s as much a mental health problem as depression. The worst case I ever saw was a deacon in my old church who faked terminal cancer and even got a motor scooter, so people would feel sorry enough to keep visiting him, and that went on for years before he was figured out.
Like @Wings said, you have some good people in your life if they’re willing to be there for you in your depression. If you do the work to get better, several things will happen. First, again like @Wings said, people may check in on you less, but want to spend better quality time with you, actually doing things instead of just checking in. Second, you may find you need them less if you’re happier with yourself. You may also find yourself more apt to initiate conversations and hangouts. All the while, the good people in your life won’t turn their backs when you start getting better, they’ll be cheering you on! If they’re there for you at your worst, they’ll be so stoked to see you getting better!
You can also lean into this community as you begin your journey. We’re all in various stages of our recovery, and we all have different stories and perspectives that can give you something to relate to. We don’t know who you are, and have no reason to judge you, so you can be as honest as you want here. We want you to get better, because as each of us gets better, we can feed each other. I’m glad you found us, and I’m glad you’re starting to think about what it might mean to grow beyond your depression!
i can really relate to this tbh, kinda don’t want mine to go away either, for the same reason you have and because I think when I’m happy I’m just hella annoying and I don’t wanna be annoying anymore so idk it can be really confusing and it makes me feel guilty sometimes but I know at some point the sadness will end so I’m just looking forward to the day I wake up happy, so just think about how one day you could wake up in such a good mood and you could like, have some fun I guess. Personally, when I’m happy or when I’m upset and wanna be happy i just ask someone if they’re okay, or like compliment someone. It makes me feel really good that i maybe just made someone a little happy. So maybe try that, even if its a little embarrassing.
Thanks for your insight, I especially liked where you talked about learned helplessness, that’s exactly what this is. It’s just me craving affection from certain people, and I feel like I have to be sad, or hurt in order to get it. (Because I get this feeling in a physical way too-meaning sometimes I wish I would sprain my ankle or something to see if a specific person cares.) In the first few paragraphs of what you wrote, you were saying how depression can become comfortable, I for sure feel that sometimes as well, however I am on medicine, and I do have therapy so I have been in that happy place, where Ive felt okay, and motivated to do things. And I did like it, and this feeling wasn’t even present. Sometimes it just comes out of nowhere, it’s kind of like a backup in case I feel like I’m not getting enough affection from someone I want too. Which sounds attention seeking, and I hate that. Because it’s a real thing and feeling I have. I’m working on trying to replace it with a kind thing instead, like if I want affection, then give them something, and make them happy with me.
Yeah, I’m glad someone else feels this too, because I don’t wanna sound attention seeking ya know. Thank you for that advice, I love to give things to other people, whenever I have money, I can never only buy something for myself, I end up buying a present for someone else to make them happy and it feels amazing. I learned that when you’re sad, the best thing to do is start with giving, because it benefits both you and the other person.
It’s normal, in fact it’s a noted component of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, that people need to feel as though they belong and are loved.
Attempting to manipulate people with guilt or pretending to need sympathy, to elicit attention is when attention seeking becomes a negative thing. As a nurse, I’ve often witnessed some extreme/exaggerated “attention seeking” behaviors. Sadly, in too many cases, the behavior repels others, causing the lonely person to receive even less attention than they would, otherwise.
You are not trying to compel others through manipulation, therefore, your “attention seeking,” as long as you’re honest with yourself and others, is okay.
It’s perfectly okay to seek attention by saying, “I’d really appreciate some company, if you have the time.” Or you could say, “Do you have some time to talk?” It’s a matter of being straightforward without being forceful. People are more likely to come around if they don’t feel they are being pressured into it. A lot of people feel honored by a request for their company. People also enjoy feeling as though they’re a benefit to others.
Finally, it’s a great practice to give away what you most want to receive, in this case, attention. You will find it very rewarding.