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3 Positives I've Learned Through the Negatives of My Depression

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If you were to pass me on the street, or stand in line behind me at a coffee shop, or watch me move behind the counter, you would never know I am a person who has depression. You would never guess a good portion of my year is spent tearing myself down, and the rest is spent rebuilding the foundation I damage while doing so. You would never know the war that is fought in my head, and the struggle that plagues my heart. And that is OK, because although I am sad almost consistently, I find reasons to get up and reasons to be happy. I have been thinking a lot about stigmas and other things that become apparent when the words “depression” or “anxiety” roll around, and I think it’s time to speak out about what it really feels like. Not all parts are filled with darkness. There is a lot about depression I believe is a blessing.

There are silver linings in the dark clouds that hover above my head. Here’s what they are:

1. My love for the little things.  

I will happily rant and rave about the importance of little victories, or the celebration of life’s small triumphs. It is the awareness and adoration for the little things in life that really allow me to appreciate the bigger things. Small steps make take time, but they can ultimately lead you to a beautiful place. In the past, as well as the present, when depression takes hold, I forget how to use my muscles. I stop doing the simple things because even those seem impossible. Mornings are the worst, when I don’t have the option to sleep until noon. When I actually have to be up and mobile, when I actually have to be human. Getting up, getting dressed, brushing my teeth and the like, all become things I wish to avoid. Things I try to avoid. Things some would deem as simple tasks, I view as a rocky hillside I need to climb in order to start the day. I hate climbing. But I do. I know this time of year is the hardest, but I also know I can get through it. Therefore, clinging to the acknowledgement of my small  victories keeps me moving away from the dark and into the light. By being able to see little things are great accomplishments, daily things to be proud of myself for, I move toward being better.

2. Being in tune with the emotions around me.

Every single person is fighting a battle of some sort, whether it’s with themselves, or with someone else. People experience hard times in their own ways, and I don’t believe anyone deserves to be judged on whether or not their pain is “relevant enough” to be called struggle. While it is true that some instances are far worse than others, it doesn’t diminish anything you or the next person is going through. Experiencing dark times makes me more inclined to stop, listen and try and understand what others are going through. Sometimes, I even sit there and feel it with them. So they know they’re not alone. It’s said that those who experience the darkness regularly are the best when it comes to providing love. You never want another to feel the way you have felt. They say we are the ones who love the hardest. We feel with you, we experience it with you and we do everything we can to help you through it.

3. Being “whole” on my own.

If the past year has taught me anything, it’s that for me, I don’t need medication to navigate my personal darkness. I learned how to appreciate feeling again, learned to meander through it, bruised, but in one piece. Trudging through sober self-hatred, I learned to manage, not just survive. I worked through it, took the time to get to know my heart, body and mind. I rebuilt the broken and overflown damn of emotions, and patched the holes with melted gold. My imperfections are now displayed with beauty, not swept under the rug like problems to be ashamed of. I learned to own the things that make up who I am, to be proud of them, both good and bad. It’s a process, and I am still learning. I am learning a steady pace of self-improvement without self-destruction. Moving up without putting myself down. This year has taught me the meaning of true, healthy relationships and it’s taught me how to shed the toxic ones. I’m learning the importance of loving myself first. Of being whole on my own and allowing someone to be whole with me. I have learned that it doesn’t take another person to give me worth, they are there to add to the abundance of worth I already possess. I am enough on my own, always.

Last year held both demons and angels alike. It is representative of a journey I was not aware I was capable of. I believed I could, so I did.

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Thinkstock photo via kotoffei.

Originally published: May 30, 2017
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