A fundamental fear of happiness

I started the day like most Thursdays, excited because it was date night and a little anxious but eager to go to therapy. As I was getting my medication out for the day, I realized I wasn’t dying to get to therapy like I usually am by Thursday morning. I don’t really have any friends since I have isolated myself so completely, and it gets a bit lonely during the day when my partner is working.

Weird. I didn’t feel as lonely this week and I hadn’t even noticed it until just then.

It dawned on me that I felt like I had really done the best I could do this week. I stayed busy, I did things I was proud of. I wrote pieces that readers said they related to and that felt amazing. I was even a little more social than usual online. I did things that were just for me.

I keep a running list in my head every week of things I want to talk to my therapist about. I try to really use my hour productively, since I am trying to get to the core of my depression and self-esteem issues. All I could think of was that I was excited to share with her that I had written a lot this week and really exercised some demons through blogging and sharing some of my struggles.

A fear of happiness isn’t that uncommon, whether its related to a negative experience that followed a happy moment in one’s past, or a mental illness that distorts your perception. A lot of people struggle with this, if only briefly. For myself, it stains my entire view on my worth and the world. I thought I was getting better at accepting that I might actually deserve happiness, until my therapy session that afternoon.

After gushing on about how proud I was of myself and of all the work I had been doing in the past week, I spoke the words “I think I may be getting better” and immediately felt uncomfortable, like I was maliciously wronging someone but didn’t know who. It is so deeply ingrained in me that I don’t deserve happiness because I haven’t earned it. I don’t have an answer for what I would have to do to actually earn this alleged happiness, because there isn’t one. I’m fucking terrified to be happy because it is new and scary and I suffer from depression, PTSD and low self-esteem as a result.

That’s the gist of it.


The only person I was worried about knowing I felt a little better had to have been myself. I have gotten so good at avoiding happiness that my brain is convinced it’s something to fear and it triggers an immediate guilty feeling, as if I had done something terribly wrong.

To say it all out loud sounds fucking ridiculous. I am afraid to be happy, because I am sure it is conditional and can be snatched away and I will be miserable, but… I am already miserable. So… Logically, it doesn’t make any sense at all.

I have questioned, worked through and talked at great length, trying to pick apart my intense fear of letting things go, of trusting, of being happy and it all stems from the same place. My self-esteem. My outlook on myself is so negative that at my core, I don’t believe I deserve happiness or the peace that may accompany it.

So, I keep doing what I am doing, trying to trust the process and break through the other side of this nightmare that my brain seems determined to continue drowning in. I am so thankful I started documenting my mental health recovery journey. It helps to go back to posts I have written when I was feeling low and reminding myself how far I really have come. Sometimes it isn’t enough to hear it from my therapist or my partner, I have to find ways to see it on my own to really trust and believe it. It is also nice to go back and read hopeful words I have written when I was feeling more positive. I know how hopeless I felt a year ago, and if I had come across someone with a similar struggle, I think it would have given me some much-needed bit of hope of it getting better.

I am practicing being happy and trying to learn how to trust people. Neither one of those things come naturally for me. It’s funny how your experiences can shape your entire view on humanity. I have years of damage to heal, so I am trying to be patient with myself.

I’m gonna Kimmy Schmidt this bitch.


(Originally posted on my SFW blog)


  • Nikki

    Nikki is a photographer, writer, artist, and advocate of radical self-love. She writes about mental health, gaming, sex, and inclusivity.

6 thoughts on “A fundamental fear of happiness

  1. I have just this minute posted about not being able to trust – and i do try and sabotage relationships when they are going well – that must be a fear of happiness I think – or that i just dont think I deserve it

  2. I wonder this more often that is comfortable for me, that I’m incapable of genuine happiness and joy, I don’t know what it is or if I get an inkling I don’t trust it will stay so it’s more comfortable to stay in the shades than brave a light that may go out. Self sabotage has a lot to answer for xx

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