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Genuinely afraid of happiness?

Hey guys,

I thought I might start another thread. So, title... I think I am genuinely afraid of happiness. Honestly, whenever I've been content/ happy/ free of worry within the past year I've seriously thought I was ill before I realised I was happy. It's like the feeling doesn't sit well in my body. Everything feels so light and breezy but I feel vulnerable and ungrounded and I hate it. It's like I've been dealing with anxiety/ depression for so long that it's started to feel like home. It makes me so sad for myself... like who's afraid of feeling good? I get so frustrated at myself. Most of the time I'm self-aware as I sit there and watch myself pick apart and twist good events in my life until I'm no longer happy with them. It really is ridiculous, I remember one day I was lying in bed after a really good day and I was thinking, 'I can't handle this. I won't be able to live with myself feeling like this for a long period of time'. I've also had thoughts like, 'I probably couldn't deal with being famous. The feeling of being increasingly successful gives me so much anxiety'. Aren't people meant to feel good at success?! 

I've just been really struggling for a while, and I cannot wait for the year to be wrapped up. This year life has hit me so hard it's unreal. I've had to deal with my first breakup (of an emotionally draining relationship), coming out to my family as gay, two stays in hospital (I've seriously never been in hospital for 21 years -- I broke my wrist and got an infection from a cat bite!), 4 medication changes, dropping my uni subjects AGAIN (when I really thought I would be in honours next year), 2 pet deaths... gah, I know all this has made me stronger but I seriously feel like I have to spend 2020 rebuilding myself from the ground up. I'm so exhausted. I know recovery isn't linear but I've been reading past emails from when I was 9-12 years old and I was saying pretty much the same things about myself as I am now, and I feel like I've made absolutely no progress in 12 years. It sucks feeling like I'll be stuck like this forever. I feel like I've just been existing but not really living. 

Thanks so much for reading. <3

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Re: Genuinely afraid of happiness?

Hi @Hozzles,

 

I can imagine that it would have taken a HUGE amount of strength and courage to write this post, and be so honest and open about the feelings, thoughts and experiences you have been living with Heart 

 

You have articulately described how happiness has been a hard feeling for you. What I am hearing is that when you had so many years feeling the heaviness of anxiety and depression, it is feels really unusual and even somewhat uncomfortable when you catch yourself in moments of happiness. Am I understanding that correctly?

 

I hear you; feeling a range of emotions that have been absent for a long time is  really big change- it can feel scary, it can feel foreign, it can feel different. It is okay to feel uncertain when emotions change, in fact that uncertainty that may come and go as you continue through recovery is a really normal thing! Your self awareness about how moments of happiness make you feel, and the ways your mind can shift them is such a huge step- this self awareness can help you to work through these feelings when you are ready to Heart Have you spoken with your support network about this before? 

 

What a big year it has been for you! Recovery can be such a roller-coaster Heart The first thing that comes to my mind when I read some of the things you have been through in 2019 is this: you are so incredibly resilient! When so many big things have happened for you this year, we want you to know that we are here for you and we holding hope with you Heart 

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Re: Genuinely afraid of happiness?

Hi @Hozzles,

 

Thank you so much for being so open, honest and vulnerable. It truly is the first step to taking the next stage of your recovery journey. Heart

 

Wow though!! It sounds like you've had a big year of many ups and downs. I am so proud of you for picking yourself back up each and every time an obstacle faced you. You are resilient, strong-minded and perseverent. GREAT JOB!!  Smiley Very Happy

 

Onto your concerns about feeling like happiness is scary and unwanted at times... I can understand that after so long dealing with more negative emotions such as anxiety or sadness, it can be difficult to open up and let yourself feel emotions that you aren't so comfortable with or haven't felt much yet. I want to reassure you that that is normal! It can be worrying that you feel that way, but remember that recovery is a process. Overcoming that feeling of being scared of happiness and being able to let yourself openly feel positive emotions again is just a part of that process. Maybe when you next feel happy about something, write down what it feels like, and if it makes you uncomfortable, write that down too and how that makes you feel. That way, you might try to concentrate on the happy emotion and how that made you feel by looking at your notebook rather than the uncomfortable emotion next time you feel more positively. If you get professional help, you could ask them for advice too of course! But all in all, these things take time and I'm so proud of you for sharing your story here. We're here for you! Heart

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Re: Genuinely afraid of happiness?

I'm so sorry you've had such a bad year @Hozzles. Smiley Sad It sounds like a lot of things have happened to you in a short time. Life can be so unfair and unpredictable.

I can relate to you feeling as though it being hard to allow yourself to feel happiness. In my experience, it can be difficult to adjust to a new routine after being in treatment for so long for a mental or physical health condition. There have been studies on people who have recovered after having visual impairments, and they have reported feeling that the world is unsafe now that they can physically see the dangers and encountering new difficulties during the transition, just to name an example.

I can also relate to your feelings of disappointment about how this year turned out for you. Like you, I also went into the year with hopes of achieving certain things, but I had to put them on hold due to my health and caring for my family. There were so many things I wanted to do that I didn't get to achieve. Sometimes, things outside of our control get in the way of life.
The worst thing for me were dealing with comments that I should be doing X or Y with my life, but then another person or the hospital would demand that I be a full-time carer for my sister and grandma without any external supports, for example. Sometimes, my family members would insist on helping me out with a lift to my ophthalmologist or volunteering, and then I would be told by someone else that I shouldn't accept support or assistance. There are also people who suggest that it is my fault that no one asks how I am outside of my volunteering (apparently, I should be the one to contact people) or that my problems will magically be solved by making friends. I felt like I couldn't win and still feel this way now. It's hard enough having health problems whilst caring for my family members and I didn't need unsolicited advice to add to my stress.

I think you've already achieved a lot of things despite going through some really difficult times. Sometimes, success isn't about completing a degree 'on time' or having good mental health. Sometimes, it's about the little things and having the strength to carry on in spite of all the problems. I really admire all of the contributions you've made to people looking to improve their wellbeing on here as you're going through a hard time yourself. Heart

Is there anything that helps you when you're feeling this way?
Something I've tried to do is make lists of activities and distractions that make me feel happy, even just for a short time.

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Re: Genuinely afraid of happiness?

@Hozzles Thank you for sharing this with us Heart

I’ve been thinking about you and really wanted to respond but have struggled to find the words which feel right...

I guess the main thing I wanted to share is that I relate to fearing happiness and feeling like anxiety/depression has been around so long it feels like home. 

 

Sending big hugs Heart


Remember you're amazing just as you are Heart

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Re: Genuinely afraid of happiness?

Aww, thank you all for your kindness! ❤ Sorry for the late reply, lately I've been struggling with replying to others.

Sorry in advance for the long disjointed post, I just want to type some more about what's been going on.

Firstly... I know these meds aren't working for me. I feel like they're making my depression worse. It's really annoying since I've changed meds about four times this year already and had to deal with a range of awful side effects (this time, I have huge brain fog). I'm sick of my body being so unstable. Another thing is my doctor said this is the last one we'll try before he'll refer me to a psychiatrist for some extra help... I'm not sure how we're going to be able to afford a psychiatrist. 

I hate depression more than anxiety. I noticed I started hating every thing about myself. I've never really hated my body until recently, but now I can't stand to look in the mirror or take photos of myself. I'm afraid I'll never have the motivation to write a story again (I haven't written anything all year). I'm having more and more scary thoughts and I don't know if they're intrusive or things I actually want to do (I make sure to keep myself safe!). I'm starting to feel like a burden to my family, my Mum has yelled at me a few times because she feels like she's exhausted her options with me. I hate being self aware of it though, because I know I just urgently need to get better and get on with life but it's hard. 

It's been one year since I left for the US to see my ex. I thought I blocked her from showing up in my Facebook memories but it keeps reminding me. Yeah, one year since I was crying in the airport bathroom on the other side of the world because she didn't end up meeting me at the airport like I expected, thanks for that memory! I'm really trying to frame it positively, like soon it will be a year since I went to the Grand Canyon all by myself, and that just proves that I can be brave and have fun all by myself... but it's still really, really hard to be constantly reminded of that trip.

There's just so much more that I'm too exhausted to put into too many words. I lost so much strength since I broke my wrist and now I have to gain it all again when I was finally getting somewhere and making huge achievements. I'm so tired of feeling lonely and isolated, I almost asked Mum to cancel our mini holiday next year as I was worried we'd be away for the local Pride march, which is the one time of year I know I get to be myself and see some friends and feel like I belong. I just find it so tragic that I almost cancelled a family event since I know I probably won't be asked to hang out with anyone for the rest of the year. There's also uni starting to advertise their O-Weeks, an 'exciting way to make new friends!'. Yeah, I tried to go to the camp but I ended up sitting alone the entire time and getting physically ill due to the amount of anxiety I was feeling! And I still don't have any uni friends after 4 years! I just wish I had a place to belong. 

I've been trying my hardest to reframe things and take some time for self-care, but it's been really hard. Sorry for the rambling, I'm just really struggling at the moment. I'm so excited for a fresh start next year, haha.

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Re: Genuinely afraid of happiness?

Hi @Hozzles 

 

I'm sorry everything's been so difficult Smiley Sad

 

I'm just wondering, does your uni have a dedicated lgbitq group? And if so do you think it might let you find friends at uni if that's what you want? 

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Re: Genuinely afraid of happiness?

@Tiny_leaf They do! 😊 The problem is I live about 2 hrs away from uni (most of my classes are online ahah) so I can't easily make events (especially since most run late and I don't feel comfortable commuting home alone at night). Plus I just really have trouble integrating into social groups in general... thanks for the suggestion, though! ❤

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Re: Genuinely afraid of happiness?

Hi @Hozzles 👋

 

I'm not sure we've connected before? But I've just been reading your thread and wanted to say that like the others that have replied - I too can totally relate! 

Your first message had me hooked. You pretty much described exactly how I often feel!!

 

Like yourself, I've also been dealing with severe anxiety and depression for years so I totally get what you mean when you say it feels like home!! It absolutely sucks and it's like I don't know who I am or how to exist without it. I'm working really hard with my psych to figure it out but I totally get the whole being scared of happiness thing because to us - happiness just isn't normal?! Like if I feel remotely happy I often feel guilty and uncomfortable about it. Or I worry the entire time because I know that once that short buzz of happiness is over I'm just going to crash further down into depression. It SUCKS. And just quietly, I kind of dislike the feeling because it's not me. Like the others have suggested, it's a hard emotion to feel comfortable sitting with. I find it scary because I never know when it's going to be taken away next.. 

 

Reading through it sounds like you've had a full on year!! But bloody well done for pushing through, I know it wouldn't have been easy so you should be proud of yourself for sticking it out ❤ I do hope 2020 is kinder to you!!! 

 

I'm sorry to hear about the break up and that FB is brining up the memories! I hate FB for that!! I'm not sure how much you use social media but I took myself off it a few months back when I really wasn't doing well and honestly, I don't miss any of it! I've been able to focus more on my recovery and what's going on in my life right now. It was so hard at the beginning because it's like an addiction, but now whenever I go on it i pretty much sign out straight away because I find it boring or quite franky, don't give two shits about the people on there 😂 I figure if we are important to eachother, we'll pick up a damn phone and call! So it could be worth trying out a social media detox for a bit? Just a crazy suggestion! 

 

I think it's so amazing that you continued on though and did the grand canyon!! Have you done much solo travelling before? I honestly couldn't reccommend it more highly to anyone!! My mental health was really controlling me a few years back and so I decided 'fuck this shit, I need to do something about it and start living' (i also felt like I was just existing). So I absolutely worked my ass off with 3 jobs and then packed up and headed overseas for 6 months on my own. And honestly, it opened my mind!! Coming home was hard and I'm not saying being away erased my issues (they were still there - they just weren't as strong) but it did help me find the person I wanted to be.. I lost her very easily when I got back and after trying so hard to fight it, my mental illnesses have come back fighting even more but I too am fighting against them harder than before!! 

 

I'm not entirely sure why I went on that rant sorry 😂 But I think just hearing that you went overseas and you've got that courage in you to still fight through and adventure on despite the circumstances at the time shows just how brave you are and if you are feeling lost I honestly can not reccommend a solo trip more!! It doesn't have to be long or far away even. But sometimes it can work wonders ❤ I found I was more open to accepting the emotion of happiness while I was travelling on my own. I'm not sure why and can't really explain it but for some reason it just felt more right?!

 

 

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Re: Genuinely afraid of happiness?

Hi @Hozzles, thanks for sharing that with us. I am not sure if I have replied to you before (or it has been a while at least), so hello! It sounds like a few things have been rising to the surface for you. I don't blame you for feeling exhausted with so much going on for you right now. You mentioned that your meds are making your depression worse, which sounds quite serious. Changing medication and paying for services can definitely take its emotional and financial toll. It must be frustrating to go through this process so many times. Are you hesitant to speak to your doctor as you are worried about paying for a psychiatrist? 

 

It sounds like you have been experiencing some difficulties with past and current relationships. Memories can bring up such painful feelings and thoughts for us. I am sorry that you are still experiencing the aftermath of that relationship Smiley Sad Feeling like a burden is a really difficult and upsetting feeling to sit with. Is it an option to talk to your Mum about how you have been feeling and how she can best support you? Everyone gets frustrated at times but it sounds as though your Mum's behaviour is really adding to your distress. You mentioned wanting to get better and get on with life.. what would that look like for you?

 

Sometimes it is hard to reframe and find time for self-care but you are trying your best which is what counts. Any progress IS progress, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. Small steps make up long roads which make up a life-long journey Heart I read your post on the New Year's resolution thread and I think they are amazing goals to work towards. Your goals really center around looking after yourself in every way that you can which is so amazing to see. Is there anything you have learnt so far that might help you through all of this?