“We must not be scared of unhappiness as a feature of a meaningful life – it forms part of the recipe for happiness itself” Giles Fraser

I have hated Facebook over the past five months. Perhaps it’s because for the most part, people only share happy things on there and I’ve been deeply unhappy while I waited for the outcome of my visa (which turned out to be a yes, incidentally.)

Hard things happen in life.

The death of someone you love, relationships ending, being unemployed or unable to work, being injured or sick, losing your home, grief, depression, acrimony.

When these things happen…

It’s OK to get away from what seems like the cyber party where everyone is having a good time except you.

It’s good to find a space where you can show up and be legitimately miserable:

  • A friend who lets you complain and cry without trying to change you or where you’re at, and knowing that this will pass;
  • Therapy with someone who is not afraid of your pain;

And then know that at the end of the bad thing that happened, once you’ve come through it, you will be more of who you are. And less of who you weren’t.

I wish our society was more accepting of misery as an essential part of the path. When I say misery, I mean suffering that may come and go in intense bursts as part of a lifetime, or lasting longer.

I believe that when the suffering is not acknowledged or you are repeatedly fed the message that it’s not OK to be miserable, you have to pop a pill, have a drink, think positively and “get over it”, when you’re invalidated over time…

This is where long-term depression might set in.

Being able to sit with misery and suffering, and let the grief pass through you for an hour, a day, a week or a year is a much under-praised skill. But when you do this, it may not turn to anxiety, depression or bitterness over the long term, and when it is done you will be even prouder of the person you have become.