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How I'm Finding the Good in My Mental Illnesses

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The majority of the time, I resent my mental illnesses. I hate what they’ve done to me and my life. I hate that I’ve been sick since I can remember and how much I’ve lost.

But sometimes, like right now, I can be grateful for all of it.

My mental illnesses have altered my perception of life and the world. Sometimes, all I can see is bad; all I can focus on is how terrible the world is. In those moments, it can make me want to leave this place more than anything. But it can also motivate me to want to make changes and make the world at least a little less terrible. Other times, all I can see is good. My mind focuses on the beauty of the world; how great people can be, how amazing nature is, how much potential there is. I’m glad I can see both sides because the world definitely sucks in a lot of ways, but it’s also incredible in a lot of ways, and we need to understand there’s both good and bad.

Back to the point of wanting to change things — my illnesses have motivated me more than anything to make a difference in the world. I’ve seen so much bad in both my life and others’ lives that I want to do everything I can to add some good; to change the bad things that can change. For example, I’ve witnessed first and secondhand a lot of bad treatment within the mental health system. One of my main goals is to find a way to change that. I’ve also seen all of the stigma around mental health, and despite my fear of judgment, have decided to be as open as I’m comfortable with about my own struggles in an attempt to diminish it.

Another good thing my mental illnesses have done, most recently, is maintain (mostly) healthy relationships. I’ve had unhealthy relationships since I can remember — friendships, romantic, family, you name it. I will attribute some of these unhealthy relationships to be partly my fault. Because of my experiences with relationships, I try so hard to make sure my current ones are healthy. Communication has always been very difficult for me and I’m definitely one to hold things in and let them all overflow later, but I’m trying really hard to communicate about what I don’t like as things happen and what I need instead of just shoving it down.

I’ve spent a lot of my life feeling depressed — sometimes depressed doesn’t even begin to cover it. But even if I don’t like to admit it, I have my moments of feeling good. I shut this down a lot because it “won’t last.” I’m learning to not do that and appreciate the good, or at least better, moments as they come. I think this is helpful for everyone to do. Life has both good and bad moments, and focusing on all of the bad ones is never going to be helpful.

Not to mention the amount of therapy I’ve had has made me quite insightful and I’ve learned how to cope with things in a healthier way. I still struggle with the latter, but at least now I know there are, in fact, other ways to cope with all of these emotions broiling around inside of me. And I’ve gotten a lot better at paying attention to what’s going on and sometimes even why — another important skill for everyone to have.

Last, but certainly not least, is who I am as a person. I hate myself as a whole a lot of the time. But I can recognize I’m kind. I’ve been treated so unkindly by both other people and the world, and I refuse to treat others unkindly if I can help it. I will do anything I can to help pretty much anyone. I’m understanding and pretty intuitive when someone has something going on. I’m passionate about everything I love, and who I love. I’m extremely ambitious and goal-driven. I’m creative. Even when I feel unworthy and like I deserve every bad thing that has and will happen to me, I can recognize that these things are true.

This isn’t to say I don’t want to get better. And most of the time, I would do anything to go back and change the things I did in an attempt to make myself less mentally ill. I’ve lost so much of my life and myself to my illnesses. But it’s moments like this I can appreciate it in a way. It’s moments like this I wouldn’t change a thing because every action and every thought has led me to where I am today. Which, despite what I tell myself pretty much all the time, is not an entirely bad place. Some of the things my illnesses have taught me have a bad side, and those are things I’m attempting to work on.

It’s moments like this I start to realize everything I’ve been through might actually have some meaning.

Unsplash image by Allef Vinicius

Originally published: November 13, 2019
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