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Question When do you think that Buffy stopped being depressed?

Annie Hall

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We know that Buffy is allegedly clinically depressed after her resurrection in S6 and I think that there's some consensus accepting that she’s no longer depressed by S7. While looking at S6 and maybe S7, when do you think that Buffy stopped being depressed? I know that it’s a process, there’s no on/off switch, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.
 

white avenger

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A more proper question might be, "Why was Buffy depressed all the time?" I can recall very few times throughout the entire 7 Seasons when I could honestly say that she was really happy for more than two episodes in a row. It's understandable, I suppose, considering the pressure we saw her under almost constantly, combined with the losses and betrayals of loved ones, the love affairs that went disastrously wrong, and the simple reality that she could die a most horrific death at any given moment.

Maybe she was relatively happy for the first couple of episodes of the first Season, but only because Sunnydale hadn't gotten its claws set firmly into her soul yet. From there, it was all downhill.
 
Annie Hall
Annie Hall
I know that a lot of people agree your point, but I want to hear people’s thoughts for the specific feelings that she confessed having after her resurrection. When did she put them behind (if at all)?

r2dh2

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I think that there are certain episodes where she talks or shows that she’s feeling better, she’s slowly stops feeling emotionally numbed. I’d say that those are milestones towards recovery. On the top of my mind, during “Gone” she confesses that she was scared of disappearing into the ether. In “As you were,” she breaks up with Spike, whom she was using to make herself feel something. In Hell’s Bell, she seems happy and optimistic about the future, calling Xander and Anya her light at the end of the tunnel (before the wedding fiasco). And finally, in “Grave,” she realizes that she wants to show the world to Dawn instead of keeping her shielded from it.

I’d say that by the end of S6, she has definitely put those feelings behind. But I think that it’s until the very last episode, when they are again fighting to save the world, where she realizes that she wants to be part of it again.

And I don’t think she ever mentions those feelings again in S7. Unless, I’m not remembering something.
 
Willow Tara
Willow Tara
Exactly the scenes I thought of when I read the thread title! You took the words right out of my mouth!

Willow Tara

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S6, last episode. I agree that we can certainly say that she's feeling normal again by end of this season.
Normal again... Hopefully she's not feeling like that again :oops:

To the OP Question I can only repeat what @r2dh2 already said.
During “Gone” she confesses that she was scared of disappearing into the ether.
In “As you were,” she breaks up with Spike, whom she was using to make herself feel something.
In "Hell’s Bells", she seems happy and optimistic about the future, calling Xander and Anya her light at the end of the tunnel (before the wedding fiasco).
And finally, in “Grave,” she realizes that she wants to show the world to Dawn instead of keeping her shielded from it.
Those were the scenes I also had to think of for the question. :) Great post @r2dh2
 

katmobile

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I think that there are certain episodes where she talks or shows that she’s feeling better, she’s slowly stops feeling emotionally numbed. I’d say that those are milestones towards recovery. On the top of my mind, during “Gone” she confesses that she was scared of disappearing into the ether. In “As you were,” she breaks up with Spike, whom she was using to make herself feel something. In Hell’s Bell, she seems happy and optimistic about the future, calling Xander and Anya her light at the end of the tunnel (before the wedding fiasco). And finally, in “Grave,” she realizes that she wants to show the world to Dawn instead of keeping her shielded from it.

I’d say that by the end of S6, she has definitely put those feelings behind. But I think that it’s until the very last episode, when they are again fighting to save the world, where she realizes that she wants to be part of it again.

And I don’t think she ever mentions those feelings again in S7. Unless, I’m not remembering something.
I think you can argue she borderline in Touched but she's not depressed in season seven. She has a lot on her plate so she's not chipper but she has purpose.
It's one of the things that's good about the depiction of her depression that it doesn't go away overnight. She has to get herself through by degrees.
 

Ethan Reigns

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I think that there are certain episodes where she talks or shows that she’s feeling better, she’s slowly stops feeling emotionally numbed. I’d say that those are milestones towards recovery. On the top of my mind, during “Gone” she confesses that she was scared of disappearing into the ether. In “As you were,” she breaks up with Spike, whom she was using to make herself feel something. In Hell’s Bell, she seems happy and optimistic about the future, calling Xander and Anya her light at the end of the tunnel (before the wedding fiasco). And finally, in “Grave,” she realizes that she wants to show the world to Dawn instead of keeping her shielded from it.

I’d say that by the end of S6, she has definitely put those feelings behind. But I think that it’s until the very last episode, when they are again fighting to save the world, where she realizes that she wants to be part of it again.

And I don’t think she ever mentions those feelings again in S7. Unless, I’m not remembering something.
Let's take the four items you mentioned:

1. Gone

Not wanting to die is not a sign that depression has ended. You can be depressed and still be afraid of what is going to happen next if you are in any kind of danger and in this case, it would be a type of death no one had ever experienced before, so there would be no way to know if it would be painful or drawn out.

2. As You Were

She was embarrassed to have been found by Riley to be hooked up with Spike and furthermore, Riley was married and happy and his relationship was the example of what everyone else would want her to have. As things show, she wasn't serious about breaking up with Spike, she just wanted to feel better about herself by doing what normal people would do and dump Spike. Spike was a social liability and she did not dump Spike because she was getting better, she dumped Spike because she was afraid her life was going to be judged mercilessly, not because she was no longer depressed.

3. Hell's Bells

I agree she found some hope in the planned marriage but this did not affect her state of depression. Depression is not a state of sadness, it is a state of mind, usually set by metabolic chemistry, where nothing seems worthwhile. She may have seen Xander and Anya as having something worthwhile but this was not her own state of mind.

4. Grave

She finally recognized that Dawn was a capable fighter and did not need to be coddled. This was a relief, but relief is not the same as eliminating depression.

My vote for when the depression ended? When the potentials were all enabled as slayers and after the battle she could finally relax and leave as much of her burden to other people. She had spent seven years as a slayer and managed to come back from two deaths to continue fighting. Now she had a bit of leisure available if she wanted it. She could train the potentials without the life of constant secrecy and violence that had marked the rest of her years. When she was asked, "What are you going to do now, Buffy?" after the battle, her smile showed the depression had lifted.
 
thetopher
thetopher
Best post.

TriBel

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We know that Buffy is allegedly clinically depressed after her resurrection in S6 and I think that there's some consensus accepting that she’s no longer depressed by S7.
Do we? Serious question. I appreciate that some folk draw strength from Buffy's "fight" but personally, I'm reluctant to accept terms like "clinical depression"* in relation to fictional texts unless a) the reader/viewer is a MD* or b) there's in-text evidence (such as a doctor making a diagnosis). If I'm going to use a term it would be melancholia. I'd use it because there's an aesthetic attached to it - it has a place in the arts. It's also related in critical discourse / theory to mourning and "the mother", and I think Buffy's state of mind always come back to her relationship with Joyce. (It's there before Joyce dies but look at the heaven imagery in AfterLife - it's intrauterine and rebirth). Melancholia explains everything in the text - form, content and function - and I don't think she ever gets over it. If she seems "better" it's because something has temporarily replaced the loss of the mother. The repressed simply returns in a different form. I think both @Ethan Reigns and @white avenger are right - except I think her sadness re-emerges in the comics. I don't think it's coincidence that S12 sees the reappearance of Joyce - which brings her some satisfaction - but I think it's fragile.

*even then, I'm dubious.
 

DeadlyDuo

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If Buffy had depression, then she'd never be cured of it, she'd just have good and bad days. Saying that, this is the same show that shows Willow addicted to magic but then the next season uses said magic without consequence or further addiction, so the show isn't that realistic in its portrayal of these kind of issues.

It's possible Buffy had PTSD rather than depression. She did have to claw her way out of her own grave which in itself would be quite a traumatic experience and is akin to something a vampire does. We know Buffy's greatest fear is being a vampire so that is almost like her living a part of her nightmare.
 

r2dh2

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@Ethan Reigns, we'll have to agree to disagree again. I definitely see Buffy reaching emotional stability as S6 goes on. It's a process, you don't wake up one day feeling happy and hopeful, it takes time and patience, and slowly you find wanting to live again, having hope about the future. And here I'm referring specifically to the question of the OP:

"but I want to hear people’s thoughts for the specific feelings that she confessed having after her resurrection. When did she put them behind (if at all)?"

GONE

BUFFY. Y'know, when I got Xander's message that I was... fading away...I was... I mean, I actually got scared.
WILLOW. Well, sure. Who wouldn't?
BUFFY. Me. I wouldn't. Not too long ago. I probably would've welcomed it. But when he told me...I realized... Not saying I'm doing backflips about my life, but... But, I didn't... I mean, I don't...want to die. That's something, right?
WILLOW. It's something.

AS YOU WERE
BUFFY. I know that. I do want you. Being with you... makes things simpler. For a little while.
SPIKE. I don't call five hours straight a little while.
BUFFY. I'm using you. I can't love you. I'm just being weak, and selfish --
SPIKE -- really not complaining here --
BUFFY -- and it's killing me. I have to be strong about this.

HELL’S BELL

XANDER. Teary.
BUFFY. Oh, good teary.
XANDER. Happy teary? Not frustrated with bow tie teary?
BUFFY. Yes. Happy. Happy for you. And it makes me happy for me. I mean, you and Anya give me hope. It's like you two are proof that there's light at the end of this long, long nasty tunnel.

GRAVE
BUFFY. Dawn, I'm so sorry...
DAWN. It's okay, Buffy... It's okay...
BUFFY. No. It hasn't been. It hasn't been okay... But it's gonna be. I see it now. Things have sucked lately, but it's all gonna change - and I want to be there when it does. I want to see my friends happy again. And I want to see you grow up. The woman you're going to become... Because she's going to be beautiful. And she's going to be powerful. I got it so wrong. I don't want to protect you from the world - I want to show it to you. Oh, Dawn... There's so much I want to show you.

The ending of Grave tells me that she has again hope about the future and she's finally thinking about the happiness and well-being of other people, instead of being consumed by feeling emotionally numbed. Having said that, I agree that there might be other emotional issues that she is finally able to let go once the weight of the world is no longer on her shoulders.
 
Last edited:

Dora

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@Ethan Reigns, we'll have to agree to disagree again. I definitely see Buffy reaching emotional stability as S6 goes on. It's a process, you don't wake up one day feeling happy and hopeful, it takes time and patience, and slowly you find wanting to live again, having hope about the future. And here I'm referring specifically to the question of the OP:

"but I want to hear people’s thoughts for the specific feelings that she confessed having after her resurrection. When did she put them behind (if at all)?"

GONE

BUFFY. Y'know, when I got Xander's message that I was... fading away...I was... I mean, I actually got scared.
WILLOW. Well, sure. Who wouldn't?
BUFFY. Me. I wouldn't. Not too long ago. I probably would've welcomed it. But when he told me...I realized... Not saying I'm doing backflips about my life, but... But, I didn't... I mean, I don't...want to die. That's something, right?
WILLOW. It's something.

AS YOU WERE
BUFFY. I know that. I do want you. Being with you... makes things simpler. For a little while.
SPIKE. I don't call five hours straight a little while.
BUFFY. I'm using you. I can't love you. I'm just being weak, and selfish --
SPIKE -- really not complaining here --
BUFFY -- and it's killing me. I have to be strong about this.

HELL’S BELL

XANDER. Teary.
BUFFY. Oh, good teary.
XANDER. Happy teary? Not frustrated with bow tie teary?
BUFFY. Yes. Happy. Happy for you. And it makes me happy for me. I mean, you and Anya give me hope. It's like you two are proof that there's light at the end of this long, long nasty tunnel.

GRAVE
BUFFY. Dawn, I'm so sorry...
DAWN. It's okay, Buffy... It's okay...
BUFFY. No. It hasn't been. It hasn't been okay... But it's gonna be. I see it now. Things have sucked lately, but it's all gonna change - and I want to be there when it does. I want to see my friends happy again. And I want to see you grow up. The woman you're going to become... Because she's going to be beautiful. And she's going to be powerful. I got it so wrong. I don't want to protect you from the world - I want to show it to you. Oh, Dawn... There's so much I want to show you.

The ending of Grave tells me that she has again hope about the future and she's finally thinking about the happiness and well-being of other people, instead of being consumed by feeling emotionally numbed. Having said that, I agree that there might be other emotional issues that she is finally able to let go once the weight of the world is no longer on her shoulders.
Yes I think buffy was feeling better , although she was depressed right from S5 , it did not help that her being dragged out of Heaven is what allowed the first to rise up,it pushed her back into depression but not controlling depression of S6
Depression comes and goes you never get rid of it and I think Buffy is still depressed in S7, I think she was passed the self harming sex of S6 but by her whole demeanor of the latter parts of S7 shouts depression to me
 
r2dh2
r2dh2
Yes, In agree that there are other emotional issues that she carries throughout the show and that she finally let go of them at the end of S7. I don't read the comics, so I hope she does better in terms of mental health.

Octavia

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I don't think she was ever "clinically depressed" but that is coming from me who hates the DSM and all of it's silly categories because I have actually read it and its updates since 2004.

Buffy was grieving. FIrst for her mother, and then for her own life. She experienced grief. That is a normal part of life and not a disease or disorder. It is something she learned to live with. She was ready to share the load in season 7 and that is why I enjoy the moment of "Get out of my face" so much. She would not let the First belittle her, her strength was their [potentials] strength as their strength was hers. Its why I can never hate season 7 despite the side story flaws because my focus was on Buffy's story and her strength. Including the realisation that one alone can not save the world.
 
TriBel
TriBel
I love this comment. I should have indicated that in my "like" but I forgot the "heart" emoji existed!

TriBel

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Willow addicted to magic but then the next season uses said magic without consequence or further addiction, so the show isn't that realistic in its portrayal of these kind of issues.
Is Willow addicted to magic "in and for itself" or is she addicted to power (S7 is about power - The Master tells us that). It would explain why she's attracted to Kennedy. a) the name alludes to the dynastical power of the family and b) Kennedy's own family have wealth (which brings its own power).
It's possible Buffy had PTSD rather than depression.
I actually had a conversation with a practicing psychologist about this and he said no. He did suggest the flashback in Beneath You to the AR was symptomatic of PTSD.
She was ready to share the load in season 7 and that is why I enjoy the moment of "Get out of my face" so much.
Thank You! That's so perceptive. This moment, I think, is absolutely key and I think it's worth quoting. For me, it's the moment that condones BtVS as a feminist text.
BUFFY/FIRST Oh no...(looks down at Buffy's wound reflected on its body) ow! Mommy, this mortal wound is all...itchy. You pulled a nice trick. You came pretty close to smacking me down. What more do you want?
Its why I can never hate season 7 despite the side story flaws
I work with film/literary/feminist theory (daft job but someone has to do it), and, from my perspective, S7 is an absolute joy. If it helps - some of my best friends (and relatives) are psychologists and they can be quite scathing about the DSM.
 

thetopher

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Is Willow addicted to magic "in and for itself" or is she addicted to power (S7 is about power - The Master tells us that). It would explain why she's attracted to Kennedy. a) the name alludes to the dynastical power of the family and b) Kennedy's own family have wealth (which brings its own power).
Sorry to go OT but is there any evidence to suggest that Willow likes Kennedy because she's rich? Or that she happens to have the same name as a political dynasty? Does Willow specifically comment on her having a pretty, democratic-y name or something.
 

TriBel

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Sorry to go OT but is there any evidence to suggest that Willow likes Kennedy because she's rich? Or that she happens to have the same name as a political dynasty? Does Willow specifically comment on her having a pretty, democratic-y name or something.
Yes (or what constitutes evidence in my discipline) but it would take me about 20,000 words to explain it. She doesn't "happen" to have the same name as the dynasty. Someone has made a conscious decision to give her the name (TBH, I quite like the fact that JFK's also linked to Arthurian legend (as was the scythe) via Camelot but that's going off on a slight tangent), just as someone's also made a conscious decision to make her family wealthy, just as someone has made a conscious decision to make the final season about power. Tara McClay - which they insist on pronouncing Terra. Terra = Earth Mother (the Gaia Willow's been studying while in England). Emphasis on "mother". Kennedy - patrilinear name...blah...blah..,blah. The basic division - the founding binary - comes down to Mother/Father - Female/Male. After that, it becomes complicated and I have to throw around names I'd rather not - at least not on a fan forum where I'd be going off topic. Just because something is democratic doesn't mean it's not also "patriarchal" - better - phallocentric. Touched is a turning point in Buffy's concept of herself, the quote @Octavia uses compresses the argument.

Here's why I think Touched is significant (the final paragraph is what, IMO, S7 is about). Hopefully it's in spoilers 'cos it's probably pretty boring (sadly not to me). In essence, to bring it back on topic. I don't think (at one level) Buffy's state-of-mind is necessarily "depression" as much as an extreme version of the axiom "a reasonable response to an unreasonable situation". The situation is female oppression. It probably won't make much sense but TBH, if I wanted to put my full argument forward, I'd have to submit a book proposal.

The disparagement of touch has a long history in the west and mostly occurs through the conceptual separation of body and soul and the aggrandizement of the latter. As Anne Davenport states in reference to Aristotle’s writings, ‘The highest rank among terrestrial animals is occupied . . . by the rational animal, human being, in whom a new and final principle, the rational soul, is added to the sensory soul, making him the most “perfect” terrestrial nature.’ She continues, ‘While touch, to Aristotle, is the most basic sense, the sense without which no sensitivity and intelligence are possible, sight is heralded as the supreme sense, yielding the “purest” pleasure, paradigmatic of the ultimate perfection of sensoriality.’ This equation which links vision to spirit and intellect has stayed with us throughout western history. The Enlightenment with its emphasis on rationality and science continued the onslaught against touch.

Although there were moments in western history when physical sensation was not underrated, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the privileging of intellect to the exclusion of sensation began to be challenged in an articulate and significant way. Prior to and during the Cold War, the threat of atomic annihilation made many people begin to fear the reign of science and rationalism, which was held responsible for the developments of the Final Solution, the Eugenics Movement, and the creation of increasingly more effective weapons such as nerve gas. This challenge contributed significantly to the development of European and American philosophy. Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s great treatise The Phenomenology of Perception was first published in 1945, but the English translation by Colin Smith was not published until 1962. Merleau-Ponty was an early existentialist and phenomenologist. His ideas of an embodied consciousness and the underlying supposition that all knowledge is experience-based challenged the Cartesian duality of mind/body, subject/object, intellectualism/sensualism, and exemplify the move away from Rationalism. Feminist criticism, as expounded by thinkers such as Luce Irigaray, Elizabeth Grosz, and Hélène Cixous, has drawn heavily on his work, and has used it as the springboard to argue against what is seen as a ‘phallogocularcentric’ world (phallus=male, logos=rationality, ocular=sight).
 
thetopher
thetopher
I mean, it was a simple enough question. Any 'in-show' evidence for Willow- the character-specifically liking these traits?

r2dh2

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I don't think she was ever "clinically depressed" but that is coming from me who hates the DSM and all of it's silly categories because I have actually read it and its updates since 2004.

Buffy was grieving. FIrst for her mother, and then for her own life. She experienced grief. That is a normal part of life and not a disease or disorder. It is something she learned to live with. She was ready to share the load in season 7 and that is why I enjoy the moment of "Get out of my face" so much. She would not let the First belittle her, her strength was their [potentials] strength as their strength was hers. Its why I can never hate season 7 despite the side story flaws because my focus was on Buffy's story and her strength. Including the realisation that one alone can not save the world.
I have experienced depression in the past. For almost 3 years I was a high functioning depressed and anxious individual and I barely remember those days, I was going on automatic mode for a long time and getting through the day felt impossible at best. I felt sad and on the edge most of the time, although I had to put up a smile to fulfill my obligations. My condition started when I lost a person in my life and, for a long time, I thought that I was grieving. The problem is that the pain lasted almost 3 years for me. So, I’m fine labeling it depression. The “funny” thing is that now I can look back and I cannot explain exactly how I was feeling during those two years, all I know that it was really bad and I felt consumed by feeling hopeless but that’s as much as I can say.

So, I’ll give you the argument that she’s grieving in S5 and S6. There are two “losses” that are piled up together: her mom and heaven. But I think that the first few episodes of S6 and specially OMWF tried to show that it was more than grieving. Her songs alluding to “going through the motions” and to “touching the fire but it freezes” suggest to me that her condition is more about feeling numb than feeling sad (I think that most of us link the word depression with persistent sadness, but there are other emotional responses that can also be classified as symptoms of depression).

I understand that you don’t like the medical definition but putting together all her actions and statements (like the dialogues that I quoted above), I do think that BtVS intended to show Buffy as depressed in S6 and to show that by the end of S6 she’s moving on from those feelings. IMO, in “Grave,” her emotional speech to Dawn about wanting to show her the world (which resurfaces again in “End of Days” when she sends Dawn away with Xander, her letter starts with the same line “wanting to show her the world”) is indicative that she doesn’t feel numb anymore, she has hope. Then S7 throws her another curve ball and she’s back into her usual pattern of isolation until, as you perfectly said it, she shares the burden of slayerness.
 

Name the Stars

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Black Thorn
No one really stops being depressed. You just learn to deal and cope. I don't think Buffy every fully recovered from her feelings of hopelessness, and darkness. However, she is becoming a stronger person and working to function like herself again.
 

katmobile

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No one really stops being depressed. You just learn to deal and cope. I don't think Buffy every fully recovered from her feelings of hopelessness, and darkness. However, she is becoming a stronger person and working to function like herself again.
I don't agree entirely but I can see that.
 

thrasherpix

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Part of the problem of defining it is that many think we can only be one thing, and that is to define us for the most part, when we can be many things.

Though I think I'm coming out of grieving right now, I know I'm probably not through it because others I grieved for took years, but it could be months of not feeling it before it hit me like a ton of bricks again. And even in the throes of it I could still laugh (hell, that's my defense mechanism, and one of the better, healthier ones, btw, and I've noticed many people on the internet wrestling with suicide also use gallows humor to cope). Sometimes I'd be fine, but once I was by myself I could surprise myself by just breaking into tears (much like Buffy in the kitchen washing dishes as her mother rants and raves upstairs), though I usually stop (and the feeling pass) the moment someone showed up. It was just one of many things I could be.

I'm not sure if I returned to volunteering with services aiding the homeless (though I've just recently stopped) because I was asked to by someone who knew I was once a volunteer (saying they were desperate for help for the winter) or if it was because it distracted me from my grief. By focusing on others, I didn't feel so much of my own pain...though it would come back, especially when I was alone or trying to go to sleep (but not always at these times).

(While I'm at it, I'll point out that even when my PTSD was at its worst--and it was crippling at times--I did NOT constantly shake in high strung fear or anger as many believe someone with my condition would do. It came and went for the most part, though certain times of the year coinciding with the causes of that PTSD almost guaranteed a bad episode. I had to be careful and monitor myself, but I didn't need people to hold my hand for me or pop anxiety meds/smoke pot everyday. Not to say that how mine manifested is universal to others who have it.)


The other thing is that in the United States (don't know about Australia, but I know it's not like this in many nations), there is this strange idea that happiness must be constant, and often vigorous (as opposed to simply being content). (Love tends to be treated the same way, come to think of it.) That's a ridiculous way to view the world because we're going to have bad days, and there is diminishing returns on sources of happiness (people can easily become jaded to what once excited them, especially if they feel entitled to it which can actually lead to misery rather than happiness).

It doesn't help that we're pressured to be happy (and to show it) by bosses or the public, and the like, so our survival can feel threatened if we have to often fake it (which creates resentment and thus hinders genuine happiness), and then when we really feel it that can seem a bit fake or at least rare. It doesn't help that people are often pushed to give more and more, which at first they can, but eventually tire while still expected to keep up the pace...exhaustion (even collapse) and depression seem a natural outcome of that. Despite faking it, they often seem unaware that others are also faking it, so they wonder what's wrong with themselves. Of course plenty have something to sell us to make us feel better (and thus "normal") from vices to pills to various products.

'Course plenty of people are sad or depressed or grieving much of the time. Sometimes they have good reason to and it should be considered normal, part of the process of overcoming and becoming more resilient (though they may need help, but not necessarily professional help).

In other people it seems crippling for no discernible reason. Though a friend of mine who I worry about greatly for her deep depressions is, I think, actually more of an alcoholic than depressed. That is her abuse of alcohol (and cigarettes) tears down her mind and body while adding unnecessary stress (and strains her finances), and that makes her unhappy so she seeks more alcohol in a vicious circle rather than she's an alcoholic because she's so depressed. It's just hard to know because of the massive ad campaigns designed to sell products (including, but not limited to, psyche meds) that are more interested in making a profit from human misery than actually helping people (and in the USA there's the added irony that if you need help and can't afford it then you're probably SOL, but if you can afford it then advertisers will market it to you whether you need it or not).
 
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