Looking at the Bright Side of Depression
I know from my own experience of depression that in general society, it is frowned upon sometimes. People stigmatize and weaponize it, using it against you. Friends (or people who you thought were your friends!), now turn their backs on you and walk away not willing to help or support you. Loneliness kicks in…. enjoyment is gone and now only exists in your dreams.
You become an expert at putting on a fake smile during the day, but then when you get home and the front door closes behind you, the emotions that you have been bottling up all day long come out, and you feel like a failed broken mess. Dark thoughts fill your head, and you wish you had a friend to just be there with you while you work your way through that dark place. But what if I told you that there is a positive, flip side to all of this? And there is a perspective that you may not have seen or thought of yet? Let me tell you about that through my first-hand experience.
I’m not going to sit here and preach to you that everything is going to be all sunshine and rainbows! It does not work like that. Mental health is unique to every single individual, and I do not know your current situation. I am here to tell you about a different perspective, and what positive things are hidden in the depths of these difficult times.
Before depression, I had no interest in mental health, depression, anxiety or anything else mental health related. Like everyone else, I viewed it as just a “thing” that was in the world and that it would never affect me. It was just something I did not understand at the time, shrugged my shoulders and got on with my day. I did not have that connection to people who struggled with it at all. That special connection needed is called empathy.
When depression caught up with me later in life after a horrible experience of workplace stress and bullying, I changed as a person. I started to understand what that word empathy really meant. It means to put yourself in another person’s shoes and understand a situation from their perspective, and by understanding this, you can help ease their hurt a little.
Experiencing depression actually made me more empathetic, not to mention kinder. I learned it’s the small things you do in life can have a massive impact on the people around you. Just opening a door for someone…..helping them carry their shopping….a simple smile….listening without judgment when someone is struggling with something and has chosen to open up to you. These simple yet powerful gestures could literally mean the difference between life or death for some people who could be on the edge: remember that! And remember to be kind by practicing empathy.
It was the great, late Robin Williams who once said, “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone…It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.”
Loneliness affects a lot of people, and it all depends if you are an extrovert, introvert, or what I am…an ambivert. An ambivert is someone who has both introvert and extrovert personality traits. Being alone is easy for introverts to deal with, but extroverts really struggle when on their own. If you don’t mind being alone, there are a lot of positives. You start to really appreciate the small things in life, and filter out the BS of everyday life quite easily. I personally spend a lot of time outside in my garden, doing my veggie patch, planting native plants and flowers to keep the bees happy while also enjoying the sunshine. I find the most peace doing this simple activity. I also read a lot while curled up on the couch with a nice cup of tea. When I do venture out, it is normally to a coffee shop where I treat myself to a dirty chi latte, and a vanilla slice cake. The simple things in life tend to be the best things.
Mindfulness is also a great thing to do when alone. I do a lot of hiking and always take 10 minutes just to sit quietly while surrounded by nature and to just hear it and feel it. No, I’m not a tree hugging hippie, just a person who finds calm while surrounded by green and the natural environment.
Being alone really makes you think too. It makes you understand what’s important in life. If you have something on your mind, loneliness helps you figure out which battles to fight, and which ones to let go. A good example is Keanu Reeves. When he is not seeking revenge as John Wick, or playing around in the Matrix, Keanu is a very reserved and humbled being. He practices kindness and does not like to see people hurt. I guess you can call him an “empath.” So try being lonely at some stage. If you can fight through the initial tough sections of loneliness, you will start to enjoy just having your own company.
Another advantage that comes from depression is clarity. Being in such a sad and low place makes you understand what is important in life. You prioritize yourself more as you have a deeper understanding of self-care, and also community care. Community Care? I hear you asking…yes….you identify times when you need people around you. Everyone preaches self-care, but community care is just as important. If you are an introvert, community care will be something you may initially struggle with, but having that human connection from time to time is a healthy thing, just like self-care is. It’s all about balance.
I found depression helped me with my thought process as well. I now make decisions based upon empathy, but can still be firm but fair. I look at the “bigger” picture to make sure that the decisions I make do not impact people in a negative way.
Everyone loves music. It’s one of those things that many have in common, apart from the weather. I spend so much time listening to music, especially during COVID in 2020. It calms me and soothes, and it heals those hurts. Everyone has different tastes in music, but mine is metal. Korn is my favorite band. I also like Linkin Park, and oh wow, do Chester’s lyrics hit home with me. The late Chester used his music as an outlet for his pain, and I can relate to that pain and the lyrics he wrote about it.
Depression can still be hard to deal with. When I describe depression to someone and how it feels, I compare it to the ocean; it hits in waves. Some waves are bigger than others, and for those big waves, you just have to batten down the hatches while it crashes over you, but eventually those waves pass. Music helps calm while these waves crash overhead. Give music a go.
So there are four benefits of depression that I can see. I know life feels tough, and what I have written here will not “fix” your situation, but I hope I have given you a different perspective on things you can do to ease that pain, while also benefiting from the positives during those negatives.
Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash