Unhappiness is not a psychiatric Illness

To a friend

I apologize for taking so long to write you back. This is actually my fourth attempt to write this post.   I have an idea what I want to say.   The struggle as always is in finding the words to say it.

I am so sorry that so much has been so hard. People aren’t supposed to say they are unhappy and I think it takes a bit of courage for you to say so. People tend I think to fear it makes them look like a failure, like they’re not trying hard enough. I agree with you also. Too many people just write it off as a sign of emotional problems or even a symptom of mental illness. They tend to assume the problem is the unhappy person and not the source of unhappiness.

We have forgotten a central truth. Sometimes life sucks. We have endless books and programs to “cure” people from their unhappiness and I suppose there is a place for that. All of us are sometimes our worst enemies and all of us have a degree of experience and skill in solving one problem by creating a bigger one but…….. Sometimes life just sucks. It isn’t as much what we do as what is done to us. We can be incredibly resilient and make good things out of bad, but sometimes things just suck. You prevent what you can prevent, solve what you can’t prevent, cope with what you can’t solve but above all else survive what it seems impossible to cope with. It is called being human. And to write it off as being in some way sick seems to me to miss the point.

Some people look for things to call sick. It makes them more money. It gives them more power and control. It makes them somehow the keeper of special knowledge.

Socially the idea that in some way people create their own misery and even like it serves to excuse and legitimize some of the worst and most unjust things we do. “Poor people are lazy and cause their own poverty and then want us to take care of them…..Some mentally ill people don’t even know they are…They would be happier if they just followed instructions and took the pills we think they need….And black people……well surely you know.”

Unhappiness is not a symptom.

I hope things are better soon for you. Unhappiness may not be a symptom, but it is extraordinarily real and painful. But it lies a lot too. Somethings are just the way they are but that does not mean they are all things or that they will be that way forever. I wish you a better day tomorrow. Remember even a little better is better.

So much of life is a matter of the momentum we find ourselves in. Life is more like the weather than anything. A whole lot of things come together to make things more or less likely.

May tomorrow begin tipping things in a much better direction for you.

Take very good care.



2 thoughts on “Unhappiness is not a psychiatric Illness”

  1. Larry i wish doctors would realize that like sucking is a curable condition. Wave a magic wand and give enough food, shelter, have medical needs met and great relationship and many would be undiagnosed. Some things are just life. Also same with Love. Is being in love or thinking you are sexy a mental illness. No none of these including being afraid of someone who has hurt you before. You can have genuine happiness or unhappiness and it not be anything more than real response to things. THanks Larry

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