Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Unhappiness Disease

Henri the Existentialist Cat speaks for many
 I've been thinking about happiness and depression.  I know that a certain amount of our unhappiness is the result of what we tell ourselves, what we believe, our delusions.  Not everything we don't like has to make us unhappy.  To quite a degree, a resilient person can accomodate to life events.  There's a lot written about this.  But it doesn't apply to depression.

I am speaking of the kind of depression brought on by malfunctioning neurochemistry.  It is logically contradictory to think you can be happy while depressed.  Depression causes unhappiness.  Professionals call it anhedonia, the inability to enjoy anything.  Not even spaghetti and meatballs and homemade cherry pie. And it's not "all in your mind."  It's all in your brain.  In neural pathways and erratic switches that are not understood.  It features imbalances of of the feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. Nobody understands it well enough to cure it.  You try this, you try that.

It can really get bad is this time of year, for the Christmas season is the Great Spiritual Hedonic Holiday here in America.  We are supposed to be happy in a mellow quasi-spiritual way, surrounded by our loving family, generous, tra la la. When I say "supposed to be" I mean it:  that's what the culture is telling you with every song on the radio, every end display in Target, every commercial about getting all your Festive Crap needs in one store. How can you help but think, I should be enjoying this. It's The Hallelujah Chorus for god's sake.

Maybe when UPS delivers your Light Therapy box, you'll perk up. (Yes, I have one on order.)  Meanwhile, you aren't having any fun.  If you are inclined to, you can pray that nobody criticizes you for not smiling and  wearing jingle bell earrings.  Then you'll really have to work on right speech, again.


  1. My own light therapy box has helped me many times. May you experience some relief from it during these dark months.

  2. Can we just uuplug Christmas? Even here in Thailand, a Buddhist country pretty much, they love it solely for the commercial aspects of it, and guess who they learned it from?