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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.
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.
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.
Check this out:
All it takes is one person. ONE individual who chooses not to give up on someone despite what their internal struggles may be, and who chooses to see the good in them even if they have yet to see it in themselves. YOU can make a difference in the life of someone who is around you that you may not even think looks up to you. Take the time to get to know a young person, understand the reasons why they act the way they do, and come to know that a little compassion can go a LONG way.
Has there been anyone in your life who has acted in a similar way? Do you think you would be where you are at this point in your life if it had not been for that person/those people?
Recently I have heard a few people open up about really tough and challenging life circumstances. This isn’t the first time I have heard others talking about loss, trauma, addiction, and tragedy. I have even experienced some of those things myself. This time, though, I found myself really wondering why some people experience much more challenging circumstances than others.
The minute I begin to start questioning this, I know that it is a question I can never understand. My life has led me to a strong belief in something greater than myself. Maybe that’s it then— maybe I am not meant to understand why others suffer. Furthermore, maybe I am not meant to understand why I have gone through the things I have gone through.
I am wondering,though- has anyone experienced similar feelings or thoughts? Can we truly practice empathy for others who experience trauma? Or do we just have to acknowledge our own limitations and “be there” for them?
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