is this healthy?

Discussion in 'Mental Health Disorders' started by alison, Feb 13, 2008.

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  1. alison

    alison Well-Known Member

    When I was in high school, I was a pretty happy kid. However, occasionally little things would bring me down temporarily - not getting much sleep, getting a bad grade, fighting with my parents about whether or not I could go out, etc. Whenever something like this happened, I would simply pretend I was happy, and say and do things that I would normally do when I was in a good mood. Within 5 minutes I'd have my brain tricked and I would be back to my normal cheerful self. I'd gotten to be quite a master of my own emotions, and my friends often told me they were jealous that I could be so happy all the time.

    Well now I've been in college for a couple years and I've steadily become more and more depressed. I'm just constantly overwhelmed and upset, have started pushing away friends, daydream about suicide, etc etc. Anyways, whenever I'm around my 'friends' (they're more like acquaintances now really) I always fall back into my old habit of pretending to be happy. Sometimes it kind of works, and I spike up temporarily, but usually I just feel really empty inside. And after I leave them and drop the facade, I fall back into my depression, and I usually feel worse than I did before. On the outside I guess I'm still convincing, since people continue to tell me I'm such a happy, smiley person - one girl even told me the other day that I was like 'an excited little puppy.'

    I guess I just want to know if this is healthy. It worked flawlessly in high school, but now it just seems to make things worse. Of course, if I drop the acting, what will I act like around people.. .the upset, weak person I know inside of me? I feel like the happy person is who I really am, that person has just gone away for awhile. Will pretending to be that person help bring it back? Like a mind over illness kind of thing? But if the illness is in the mind then.......... I don't know where I'm going with this:huh:. help me??
  2. Feared.Desire

    Feared.Desire Well-Known Member

    I’m not expert, and I can’t say this for sure, but I’m going to say yes, it’s healthy. Acting happy may help you keep close ties with other people, which is obviously a good thing. Second, you said it sometimes spikes you up temporarily. Even if it is only for a brief moment, that’s better than being completely miserable all the time, is it not?

    :) Hope all goes well for you.
  3. nedflanders

    nedflanders Well-Known Member

    Intentionally or not, you stumbled upon the basis of cognitive therapy, which is one of the more effective forms of psychotherapy. Making yourself act happy (by smiling, interacting with others, etc) does actually improve mood, as you've discovered. This has been tested fairly well in clinical trials. Unfortunately, the converse is also true, as I've discovered--acting sad (by reading suicideforum, among other things) does make you sad.

    Long term, it's a matter of choosing which pathways to reinforce by habit--happy or sad. External influences (like academic stress, poor sleep, etc) will obviously still have their effect, but the degree to which they change your mood depends upon your habits of mind.

    So keep it up. The academic stresses will abate eventually. Then you can replace them with job- and kid-related stresses. :p
  4. alison

    alison Well-Known Member

    Wow, thanks for responding guys. :hug:

    When you put it like that, it sounds a lot better. When I wrote this, I was thinking that it might be bad because I felt like I was acting fake and ignoring my problems... but now I think you guys are right. thanks!
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