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5 Positive Things I've Gained on My Journey With Depression

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Now, don’t get me wrong. Depression is a hole — a deep, dark place of isolation, loneliness and confusion (amongst countless other negative things). But does this mean nothing good can come from having depression?

I like to think of myself as an optimist, which can sound like quite a contrast coming from somebody with severe depression and anxiety. But in fact, it was the depression that took me from being a pessimist (masquerading as a realist) to someone who wants to see the good in everything. My first therapist taught me not to wish for the depression to go away, but to ask for symptoms and situations that can lead to happiness. It is hard to wish for everything to return to “normal” or to wish all the bad away. I’d suggest trying instead to wish more of the good back into your life.

1. Positivity

It took my depression to make me realize just how negative I had become. I was so horrible about myself, critical of colleagues, judgmental of friends and their decisions, argumentative for the sake of arguing. I started to think maybe I was only “happy” when I was miserable. Then, when I was diagnosed with depression, started medication and started therapy, I had the realization of how I sounded and how much that pessimism was having an effect on me. Something clicked in therapy, and I felt my thought processes changing. I wanted more positivity, more happy, more loveliness and, most importantly, to show and feel these optimistic feelings. If this is something you cannot understand, I recommend reading “The Secret.” It is a great start.

2. Friends and family

I’ve found it is a very true saying that “you know who your friends are” when you are diagnosed with depression, and this saying resonates with me even more after dealing with it for over seven years. I have no animosity towards those who haven’t wanted to help, put up with me or even listen to what I have to say when I am in a hole; these people to me are simply those who don’t understand, and that’s fine. But to those who do understand, learn about the illness, show patience, empathy and unwavering support — thank you. Depression has made so many of my relationships stronger and deeper. Acquaintances are now lifelong friends, and certain family members and loved ones are now lifelines.

3. Community

We are all on this site, The Mighty, not just because of the stories, but because mental illness is such a vast community, ranging from baristas to barristers. When you start to open up about your illness (and I wish more people would) you can realize just how vast that community is and how many wonderful people there are in the world. Community, therefore, has become a big part of my life, my job, my world — to bring those with mental illness and those without together.

4. Treatments and medications

Over these seven years, I have tried counseling, hypnotherapy, mindfulness, yoga, running, cognitive analytical therapy (CAT), writing, meditation and nine types of prescription medications. These are all things that, no matter how well they worked, helped me to become who I am today. I know so much about myself now because of this whole process, and although I wouldn’t wish my symptoms on anyone, I don’t regret trying any of these. It took each of these treatments to educate me and for me to realize everyone has a different route for a different battle!

5. What it is like to feel happy

I no longer take happiness for granted. I am certainly a million miles away from the guy who was a secret pessimist at heart. Sometimes, it can take hitting rock bottom to realize how fragile mental health can be. I enjoy every “happy day” I get and acknowledge it (even if just to myself). If I had not had depression, I may not have had this feeling. I do not think I would appreciate it as much, and I definitely would not understand it as much — and that understanding makes me happier and hopefully others happier, too.

Depression, we know, can be rubbish, but I say think of what you have learned from it, the love you feel from others, and focus on those good days.

Image via Thinkstock.

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Originally published: November 18, 2016
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