Chronic Illness & Depression: It’s OK to be Happy When Chronically Ill (Although Society Often Says Otherwise)

chronic illness and depression

lyme disease, depression and happiness

It’s an unspoken truth, one known on a deep level by both those who are chronically ill and on both a deep and oftentimes surface and very obvious level by those who are not ill: People with chronic illnesses are not supposed to be happy. If they are, it means they want to be sick, or aren’t really even sick at all.

There is a major –and MAJORILY damaging—stigma about people being happy when faced with a long-term, serious, and/or chronic illness. Those who feed this stigma –those who think that a person must want to be sick or are faking it if they are generally happy people who are, despite their struggles, in love with life in general- are often ironically the same ones who are annoyed when a sick person is depressed, claiming they feel “dragged down” by them.

Often, no one wants to put up with your depression –with hearing you speak of it or seeing you in a chronic state of melancholy; but at the same time, the unspoken truth is that you are not supposed to feel happy either …you are not supposed to feel happy and love yourself and your life until and unless you are well. If you do it means you want to be sick and are not truly trying to get better, because if you are happy in your present state then what incentive do you have to get well?  Right? …I say wrong. Very. Wrong.

I think it is the other way around, that it is actually quite impossible to get well when consumed by darkness, with a body ravaged by both disease AND the constant release of chemicals from negative thoughts and emotions.

It is also impossible to believe in the possibility of healing and a bright future when you are chronically unhappy and discontent. But, nonetheless, many who are chronically ill are made to feel shame and guilt if they are anything but.

So in the name of this absurd stigma about being happy when sick and my rant on the matter, I will leave you with these brilliant words from the Epilogue of Paulo Coelho’s book ‘The Valkyries’:

chronic illness and depression

“If what we want to do is heal ourselves first, so that then we can go in search of our dreams, we will never reach paradise. If, on the other hand, we accept all that is wrong about us –and despite it, believe that we are deserving of a happy life—then we will have thrown open an immense window that will allow love to enter. Little by little, our defects will disappear, because one who is happy can look at the world only with love –the force that regenerates everything in the universe.” –Paulo Coelho, The Valkyries 

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