I Hate “Having Fun”

You know what I hate? I hate the concept of “having fun.” I hate the pressure to “have fun.” I hate the notion that so much of what we do is to “have fun.” Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge others their fun. They should have as much of it as they like. But for me, trying to have fun is just a big chore (or a big lie).

So I’m here, in Parma, Italy and I’m supposed to be chill-axing and “having fun.” Italy is a fun place, after all. All you need to do is stumble from gelato stand to pizza bar to have a good time.

But here’s the thing: I don’t have fun.

I don’t. I’m depressed. I’m anhedonic. I’m apathetic. I don’t have fun. I just don’t.

It’s not that I don’t want it, or that I wouldn’t have it if I could, it’s just that I can’t.

All the Pressure to “Have Fun”

You know what holiday bugs me? New Year’s Eve. I don’t like New Year’s Eve because there’s this insane pressure to party like it’s 1999, get blackout drunk and make out with a stranger – and absolutely love every moment of it. And if that’s your thing, then go to it, I just wish there wasn’t such pressure on the rest of us to have this tremendously “fun” time.

In life we're all supposed to "have fun" but people with depression rarely "have fun" and the pressure to have fun is even more depressing. And, of course, being here is the same. I’m supposed to love everything and cherish every moment. I can appreciate that people do and I can appreciate that I should. It’s just that I can’t. I can’t feel the things necessary to love almost anything (exclusive of my cats).

Depression and “Having Fun”

So, that all being said, what is a “good day” with depression if life is completely devoid of fun? Well, less pain is nice. I like that. Fewer tears, more energy, lighter thoughts, a hint of desire – all those things are in the win column.

But fun is not in there. It’s just not a reasonable goal for me and it certainly isn’t anywhere near a reasonable assumption. And feeling the pressure to have fun and talk about having fun and espouse the greatness of fun-having just makes depression worse.

I realize it’s a lot easier saying, “have fun,” than, “feel less depression,” but it would be nice if someone understood that’s just all I can manage.

Leave a Reply

  1. If I was only just anhedonic.

    I don’t enjoy any activity, be it sport or travel or meeting family.

    What is worse is that everyday chores are “torture”.

    If I try to make my bed regularly, I conclude it is so torturous I start making suicide plans.

    This goes for all chores.

    I try to survive by avoiding as much as possible and refusing to think about the future.

    Alcohol is my best friend.

  2. What a great article. This is exactly how I feel a lot of the time. Unable to participate. Unable to enjoy much of anything. Anhedonic (I love that word) and avoidant. I despise NYE too, in fact, the whole holiday season, because it’s all about having fun/feeling joy/feeling connected. I don’t, and I don’t. Oh, and I don’t.

  3. I remember camping last summer in the middle of a heavy depression. Everyone around me was having fun and I just wanted to lay in my tent and sleep. I tried to join the group and get…something out of the experience but all I could see was everyone else enjoying themselves and there I was feeling nothing. I was a void as far as emotions went. There was just nothing. I tried to be involved for my kids sake but as soon as I could I used my medication making me sleepy as an excuse to slip away to my tent and the safety of seclusion. I hated myself on those trips. I love camping. I wanted to enjoy those weekends. I wanted to join in and have fun but I just couldn’t. Depression as a whole is a life ruiner and I’ll take whatever this state I’m in now over it any day.

  4. Pingback: I stepped in some feelings | blahpolar diaries

  5. I think you seriously misunderstand the idea of having fun. You don’t enjoy something, it’s not fun. There is no universal guideline to fun.

    Many people would think vacation at five star hotel somewhere in touristy island is fun. I would be bore to death. For me fun is to go to Eastern Europe, go to some weapons/cold war museum and take ten gigabites worth of photos.

    For everyday, my idea of “fun” is to watch nuclear test on youtube or make jewerly. On the other hand, I find sex and sex talk kinda boring.

    And as far as I know nobody ever held gun to anybody’s head on December 31st with “have fun or else….”. Plenty people hate organized entertaiment.

    I was depressed on my travelers. Yet, I always managed to enjoy it, because I need these moments later on. It’s been life saving… many many times.

  6. i am stable maybe 50% of the time. i just got a $4000 bill from going to er and medicare won’t pay for any of it. as i lay down for a 4 hour nap i wonder if anything is worth it. if i pray it’s for death..a natural death..right now. 30 years on meds can do that. ‘you’re losing all your highs and lows ain’t it funny how the feelings go away.’

  7. When we say we “can’t do something” .. we should ask ourselves, why can’t we have fun, what is creating a resistance to being happy… a common card we play is “i can’t have fun, I’m bipolar” and when we are actually upbeat and happy, then the fear and thoughts of mania coming on starts to surface and worries about the enviable crash.

    But the key thing I’ve learned when on this roller coaster is not identifying with every thought, we have to not let thoughts consume us when they’re racing… the depressed mind will always say “no” “I can’t” I’m tired” I feel empty” when we give those thoughts attention the grow stronger. Your inner intuition knows that you actually want to be happy and out of depression, but sometimes it’s a quite whisper because we listen to our negative thoughts too much. It’s all about avoiding negative thought patterns, feed the thoughts you want to have and turn your back on the rest!

  8. I often times have literally said to people, “I hate fun!” It was a line I saw in a movie when I was a kid and then as I became an adult, fit my personality most accordingly. The Paradox is that I am usually somewhat of the life of the party and despite not internalizing the event as a good time, externally I can find ways to enjoy myself. I think the key is to do it ALL…everything….on your terms you know? Fun, not so much fun, whatever, set your standards, parameters, etc and engage.

    • I thought I was the only one. I hate manufactured ‘fun’ too. My idea of a great party is inviting one person over for tea or dinner or a movie. Anything more than that is draining, yet I too am often the life of the party, even though I hardly ever have ‘fun’ the way most people seem to do. So what do I do? I concentrate on feeling joy instead. Joy is luminous and fleeting and all-encompassing, and I can feel it from a conversation, a beam of sunlight, a delicious meal, a hug from a puppy. I also sometimes make myself socialize because I need to engage people more if I want to have and maintain friendships, and because there are people I genuinely like. I went to a low-key party recently where I got through it by concentrating on the food and helping with setup. That way I was there, but didn’t have to fully engage. Was I kinda bored? Yes. Did I enjoy myself? Somewhat. I saw other people’s enjoyment of my presence, and that was enough.
      This weekend Im going to lunch with one of my aunts, partially at my invitation. The only time I really enjoy going somewhere with someone is when I’m with my boyfriend. But I also want to be in her company, and I want a good lunch. I’m not concentrating on fun, though- I’m thinking about how I will be learning a new part of a city, eating out at a restaurant I haven’t tried, and traveling a new route. The challenges intrigue me and the joy will come from showing my sense of mastery to one of my favorite people. “Fun’ will be a bonus, maybe.

  9. Hi Natasha, I have recently stumbled upon your blog and have found much of what you say helpful – your explanation of the difference between brain and mind has finally helped me make sense of the idea – TY. It’s interesting that you say you can get why you “should” love everything and cherish every minute – from behind my own eyes, the people who are excessively positive are the ones who are strange – being “positive” has never made sense to me.
    There have been some wild times in my long unmedicated past, but I have always despised people’s expectation that I should love a specific occasion or event. Having fun because we are having fun is one thing, but christmas, birthdays etc are a HUGE torture. [Pre-meds I did have a sense of fun but seems I have lost it – the trade-off is that I don’t have so many mixed moods episodes, behave abominably and then have to hate myself. ]
    I wish you as much joy as you can reasonably hope for while you are on holidays
    thanks again

  10. I can totally relate, particularly of late, and wish they would eliminate that 3 letter word from the dictionary.
    One random thought that popped into my mind was your mention of the special place your cats hold in your heart. I am a huge advocate of and believer in the benefits of owning pets. Not only can those with bipolar disorder benefit from the love of and for a pet, but we’re also permitted under the Americans with Disabilities Act to employ the assistance of a service dog.
    As a dog and cat owner, I sincerely believe pets can be the difference between life and death. If you don’t want to go service dog route, adopting from a shelter is an wonderful option. Consider a senior pet if not up for dealing with baby years! Animal shelters also always need peeps to walk dogs so if you can’t own one, you can always volunteer (albeit I appreciate if you’re depressed, this may be challenging but the rewards are well worth the effort).

  11. I used to hate having fun too, until i realized that i get happiness and meaning in life not from the superficial things society deems fun, but from doing my own thing. And as a highly sensitive, emotional and spiritual person i enjoy a quiet retreat into nature more than a night out in loud noices and strobing lights with aggressive fake people drenched in booze having this ‘fun’ that they suppose everyone else should be enjoying too.

    Traveling doesnt exite me either, mostly because of the stress involved. Lots of the so called normal people dont travel either, or prefer a solitary trip to the wild instead of the draining experience of a tourist beach. Why should i be any different as a human being just because i am bipolar? Why is desire for quiet peace a symptom of sickness for me, but not for someone else without such a label?

  12. Thank you for sharing. It makes this a little easier knowing I’m not the only one who feels this way. I think you’re very brave for your honesty. You are truly helping me not feel so alone in this. :-)

  13. I love the mention of your cat’s love. I have one cat in particular who is normally not a lap cat. In fact, I would say that she is aloof to the fact that i even exist. However, when i am “down” the way I describe a care-ectomy, this cat knows it faster than I do. She practically attacks me with love. Sitting on my lap purring, laying on me when I can’t get out of bed or off the couch. Demanding that I feed her, pet her etc. I love how she knows without me having to tell her and explain it to her, over and over again. I wish people could know this and accept it unconditionally and non judgmentally like she does.

  14. Your post reminds me of eeyore. (from winnie the pooh). I’m not accusing you of being down on purpose – or because you get some kind of kick out of it. I’m also not trying to be insensitive. I realise depression can be quite frustrating – especially when others just ‘don’t get it’ when you explain you’re miserable.

    everyone is unique in what works for them. I just hope you keep trying – and if you find some days are more eeyore than others then thats just the way it is. I have many eeyore days. sometimes I look back and realise that I’ve had a month of eeyore days – but that doesn’t mean my future will be all eeyore days.

    I’m not sure why I posted this using eeyore so many times. must be an eeyore day :)

  15. I’d be sampling the vino or a cold beer to change my mood, in spite of warning labels and virtual pressure from people on the internet that don’t know me like a few other REAL people do. Screw it. Sometimes ya gotta make fun, stir up a little trouble, live a little before you get too old to get away with it. I’d do it again on my next European trip, or road trip without regret!

  16. All this emphasis on having to have fun while in Italy or forcing yourself to enjoy your trip.

    If I recall correctly… you are or were one wild arse unconventional chick. I mean, your old blog once had a dominatrix photo. The “biography” of you, oh boy!

    Now… I get that, perhaps your days aren’t filled with wild and crazy sex, sky-diving, fun, etc. any longer… but it seems to me that if you FEEL that you are forced into something; you rebel and/or despise it.

    So, rather than command yourself to have fun or to continually berate yourself into enjoying something, you apparently aren’t, or to compare yourself with a million other people for whom you are in no comparison to… JUST BE YOU.

    I mean; I could guilt you by remarking of how fortunate you are, so many never have this opportunity (eh, especially mwa), etc. and you yourself have done the same to yourself, but, see… that’s FORCING yourself and you have not ever seemed to be the characteristic persona of someone enjoying being forced.

    I get you are undergoing a major kick arse depressive episode, but, it’s just that… and it’s a major dump that it hit when you were to go to Italy, of all times. I am assuming that you are taking all the medication in the world to NOT be majorly depressed or wildly manic and well, there ya go… drugged to the hilt and still horrendously depressed.

    Sometimes, sug, it really is about the thoughts (do not get riled up; I too am an “ole Bipolar” but Sug – sometimes, it is what you think and not what you are) and if you try to go at this in a opposite manner – not forcing yourself to do or be or act or feel something that you feel forced to do… you may just find, by complete accident, enjoyment even if minut’. The more you *feel* that you MUST be… the more you won’t.

  17. Natasha, take lots of pictures anyway while you are over there. Later on, you may remember your vacation more fondly, and the pictures will let you relive it when you are not feeling depressed or stressed out.

    Also, I totally get the pressure to have fun. So, how about, instead of having run, you go do what you want to? You want a gelato? Go get a gelato. You want to see an American movie in the theatre there even though you “should be” immersing yourself in the local culture? Go see the damned movie! You want some sushi even though you are in Italy — go get some damned sushi!

    I’m not even sure I could “have fun” in Italy. My idea of fun has more to do with seeing more of nature and less of culture. Camping, hiking, kayaking (still water), scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing… I can see spending money on that, and a bunch of that I can do in my home town. Riding roller coasters (ok, not really about nature) — yeah, that would be cool. But I’m just not that into seeing other cultures. I feel like I could see them in a movie instead. Now if the people in the other culture want to go fishing, hiking, camping, or scuba diving with me… lol. :)

    • That is what I do. Take lots of pictures irrespective of the state of mind I may be in because it’s nice to look back on. I went on a trip overseas once and was so depressed I don’t know how I managed it. But I took photos and videos galore. Now when I look at the photos I think how I did get out of that black hole and life went on. There have been more black holes but I always know they pass. It’s better to just get out and make the effort because the alternative is lying in bed and sinking into a very unpleasant place.

  18. EXACTLY!! Thanks for letting me know I won’t magically have ‘fun’ or find ‘joy’ if I take off on a vacation. I think I will get closer to it if I go alone. To feel the need to try to live up to others expectations to ‘have fun’ THEIR WAY – would spoil the whole thing for me. This depression & CPTSD is so painful that making it thru the day so I can go to bed is success. Going for a drive is FABULOUS!! Have fun in Italy – I have to catch up with your blog – Mom died 2 months ago & I shut down. Almost back..

  19. Thanks for the update. Wondering about you. Your best is good enough so don’t worry about. I don’t fault you for it. If anyone else does too bad. Get by the best you can on your trip. I hate long journeys and I am not BP. I can feel you . Have a great day!

  20. I think I get what you’re saying. I grew up with Major Depression since age 13 and always hated the pressure to “have fun” or even just to always be happy and have a smile. I always hated having to fake a smile or even a laugh just so my friends wouldn’t feel bad. For such a long time I hated the “happy” facade I always wore just to please the rest of the world. It’s not easy keeping up that facade and it wears on you over time.

    This pressure was especially hard when I was a cashier, I was the “face” of the company and had to keep the customers happy. I was always complimented for being so pleasant, the boss even complimented on it while complaining about how negative all the other workers were. That just put more pressure to keep up the facade. And it was even harder because that was when I started getting bad Fibro symptoms (primarily pain and fatigue) and was masking all those things as well. No matter how I tried to hide it and internalize it, it showed by having more sick days and being tardy coming off breaks (from anxiety attacks and indescribable pain) to the point they had to let me go.

    It always felt weird to me to see other people get so excited over things and I would just feel nothing, I could never know what it was like to experience that same “joy.” Sometimes I felt like I was weird because of it or that something was wrong with me, but personally I never felt the want or need to have that experience either, (except by peer pressure.) I just liked being mellow. The extent of my joy were times I could find a little quiet peace in solitude. Do some art or writing.

    I also grew up in Foster Care. My case worker and foster parents put a lot of pressure on me to get out of my “shell” and participate in things to “lighten up” and socialize with others. (My anxiety was mainly social.) This pressure only made me so much worse, and I developed more anxiety attacks. Though they never seemed to get that… They didn’t notice I was drawing and writing less, I loss a lot of my creativity I used to have, having to reinvest those energies to meet their demands. Spent more nights awake and crying. And even when my friends weren’t vocal about it, the pressure was there to “have fun” with them and not be a “party pooper.” I never went to many parties anyway, except when pressured into it. I hated prom and school sports events because they hype it up way too much. I agree about holidays, nothing but anxiety for me. I’m more miserable and stressed and exhausted on holidays and that’s certainly not “fun.”

    I never wanted that wild life other teenagers, and some adults, seem to expect of you. Like you said, I don’t care if other people do it. That’s their own business, I wont judge them. As long as I’m not pressured or dragged into the pain of it all. Because what a lot of others see as “fun” is often times just more painful and stressful to me. I’d rather not have to be subject to it. They can have their freedom as long as it doesn’t have to encroach on my own freedom to avoid those same things.

    It may be done with best intentions. But there is a fine line between encouraging someone and just pushing them over the edge. It’s a sensitive subject. Perhaps investing time to get to understand where they’re at first and who they are is the best way you can help someone who seems depressed.

  21. We’re so alike it’s scary. But you love flying without a plane. I went snow skiing for the first time when I was 40. I was not trying to be a great skier, I was trying not to kill me or anyone else. No one showed me where the brakes were. My friends’ 10 year old called me slide man.

    That sounds like a vacation from hell but it was great for one reason, my whole focus was on not hurting anyone while at the same time not head butting a tree. I wasn’t thinking about my love of bacon or the constipation my new combo created. Actually I think constipation was my friend on those days.

    Maybe people like us just need a bigger rush than common folk. You leap off of cliffs with a couple of sheets for wings. Now that’s a rush. I did the hot air balloon thing and flew a plane(with a pilot beside me). I was afraid of heights(and depths) but that only applied to standing on the rooftop of a 14 story building and trying to look down. Vertigo is worse than chlamydia but at least I knew I had it. (my friend told me that story)
    Natasha, you and I and zillions of others are not built to drive a little mail truck. What we need is NASCAR and i’m not talking fat rednecks bbq’ing carcasses and drinking a case of beer in the parking lot. You, me and others are built for speed. We need to drive. The faster the better. Driving 500 miles at 200 mph with a competitor 3″ from your bumper and cars trying to pass while everyone is going into a curve? I hope I’m still constipated.

  22. I agree with Harry, it sounds like you’ve got a nasty one this time around. Actually, I’ve been aware of something brewing over your past few blogs, so it’s not really a shock. All I can think of to say is, I hope it passes very soon, and that it’s NOT followed by either a dysphoric mania (God yes, that’s the most awful) or hypomania (unless it’s nice and mild!)

    Good luck, Natasha, and don’t forget to place one foot in front of the other; baby steps will get you through.

    • Hi Herb,

      My doctor doesn’t think rTMS would work as ECT didn’t and it’s stronger. Moreover, I couldn’t get it even if I wanted to, due to cost.

      – Natasha Tracy

      • Dear Natasha,

        I am truly sorry to still read that you’re battling the “beast” and thank you for taking the time to respond to my question.

        As you already know some of my background and many years of support, experiences, research and knowledge I offer up if the opportunity affords itself please consider leaving no stones unturned. While I do respect your physician’s thoughts there is no definitive certainty without venturing forth.

        I am aware of a patient who has trialed ECT and VNS unsuccessfully and has benefitted from rTMS. The point being as you well know we are all different and so are our responses to these various treatment options without any guarantees of efficacy. At the very best, it might work with little to no potential serious side-effects.

        I would also offer up to please consider, once again, modulating the parameter settings of the VNS to see if you can obtain any favorable response.

        My best wishes are sent your way in the hope you can find relief. Your writings continue to be spot on and outstanding in my opinion and maybe so because of your suffering but I’d rather read you are well and endeavoring in other areas if need be.

        Sincerely,
        Herb
        http://www.vnstherapy-herb.blogspot.com
        http://www.vnstherapy.wordpress.com

  23. Oh boy. You’ve got it bad right now. I suppose that meqns you’ll be swinging from the ceiling lights, shouting “I can fly!” in a few days as the inevitable hypomania follows the deep low you’re in now! Oh, and maybe also a short burst of wanting to strangle people who try to be cheery as you pass through the dysphoric mania stage, that half-way point between the depression and the hypomania. When she gets* there*, nobody say, “Cheer up!” or you’ll risk getting fingers stabbed in your eyes … Ain’t those mixed episodes the worst of all moods? But those ‘feel nothing’ depressions, they’re still the pits. Makes me feel I want to give you a hug, but I don’t suppose you’d even feel the contact while you’re in this kind of mood. :( Wish I had fairy dust to make us *all* feel better. But you know this mood will pass eventually. They always do eventually. The trick is staying alive long enough to get through to the end of the bloody tunnel of depression! Right? Hang in there, matey . :) Drop by into Liverpool on your way home and I’ll show you The Beatles museum, where we can sing that depressed person’s favourite Beatles song, “She love you yeah yeah, so frigging what?”