I have been on both sides of a depressive episode, many, many times. In 24 years, the mountains in my life have been really high, and the valleys have been really low. I’d like to think both my mountains and my valleys are part of what make me who I am.
I have always viewed my Mental Illnesses as a disability, as a hindrance, as things that stood in my way of being who I was meant to be.
Until so very recently.
I read in passing somewhere, “viewing my mental illness as a gift”. My initial thoughts: A gift? Really? Who would want crippling Anxiety for their birthday? Who wants to open Depression on Christmas morning? That thought process is a mistake. No one would want either of those things if they were given the option. And then I thought about it more and more as each day passed. My Anxiety and my Depression have shaped who I am.
“To feel everything so very deeply.”
My Mental Illnesses have given me empathy. They give me the opportunity and the blessing to be able to feel what others are feeling. They allow me to be open and welcoming and compassionate. For so very long, I had to create a safe space inside my own head, to hide from the Mentally Ill demons that tormented me each day. I can now provide that safe space and comfort to those who need it. I wouldn’t know how to think those positive thoughts and create that safety if it weren’t for my Anxiety and my Depression following me and cackling at me like the hyenas they are.
My Mental Illness is part of who I am. But is not all of who I am.
It is a gift. But is not the best part of me.
It gave me the opportunity to grow as a human being. But it is not my defining characteristic.
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TurningPointCT.org was developed by young people in Connecticut who are in recovery from mental health and substance use issues. We know what it’s like to feel alone, stressed, worried, sad, and angry. We’ve lived through the ups and downs of self-harm, drugs and alcohol, and the struggle to find help.
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