I once rambled pretty candidly on depression and my experiences with it before on the blog [read at your own risk; it’s a doozy].
Obviously I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: depression sucks a big one. However, like any negative part of life, there are also – dare I say – positive aspects to depression.
And sometimes it helps me to think of all the things that depression has taught me. It’s been rough, and I almost feel like I shouldn’t be giving it this much power over me. That being said, I do think that some of the hardest lessons I’ve learned in life have been related to my journey with depression.
Again, I am not trivializing depression – or any other illness, for that matter! I just think that, like most aspects of life, depression can teach us some interesting lessons – if we allow it. The way I see it, we can take all of the [some more painful than others] lessons life throws at us, and we can either learn and grow from them… Or we can let them destroy us.
Of course, depression is a very serious issue, and I’m more familiar with it than I’d like to admit… But today I’m choosing to look at the positive side of it.
Because every dark cloud has a silver lining.
07. Even though I obviously never chose to have depression, I am still ultimately in charge of my own actions, as well as my own fate. I can’t help the fact that I have clinical depression and anxiety. As we all know, it is an illness. Just like diabetes, or any other illness, it must be managed. That being said, one thing that I’ve learned and relearned a countless number of times is that: no matter what, I always have a choice. It’s okay to cut myself some slack. It’s okay to be gentle on myself. It’s okay to screw up, and it’s definitely more than okay to not be perfect. But at the end of the day, I am ultimately the only one in charge of my actions, and therefore, my own fate. This means that I can choose to move past it, and to fight it every single day. This means that I can choose to be a better person and to learn from it so that it makes me stronger instead of letting it tear me apart. This means that I can choose to help others who are going through it – because I know what it’s like. This means that even if it does suck and make me feel like shit, I can choose to do small things every day to help me conquer depression. If I want to live a good, productive life, I don’t have to let depression stop me… It’s ultimately up to me. Fate really is in my own hands [to an extent, of course, many things are out of our control… but again, *I* am responsible for my own actions].
06. It’s taught me to be a lot less judgmental of other people. Like most of us, I’ve definitely been a bit judge-y toward other people [some times more overtly than others, but ya know…]. I try my darndest to not be judgmental, but of course, I still slip up all the time (even though most of my judging stays in my own head and is rarely verbalized). However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from depression, it’s this: we all have our own baggage, and you truly never know what someone else is going through at a given moment. I find that it’s easier to just cut other people some slack, because you don’t know what s/he is going through. It is better to be kind and give people the benefit of the doubt.
05. Depression sometimes reminds me to be grateful for everything that I do have. It is true that we need the “bad times” to pay more attention to the good times. Sometimes it’s so easy for me to focus on what’s going wrong with my life… than to focus my energy on all the good things I have going for me. I’m mostly healthy. I have a good job, and my graduate program is being paid for by my employer. I have hobbies, a wonderful support system of friends and family. I have access to decent healthcare, good food, and nice clothes. I have a working car. I have a guy who thinks I’m amazing [even when I don’t see it]. See? There is so much to smile about, regardless of any given situation. My life isn’t perfect; I have many bad days. But it’s not a bad life.
04. All we can really do is attempt to take each day one step at a time. And try to be better today than we were yesterday. Today, I parked like an assclown at Trader Joe’s, and some lady kinda [maybe rightfully so] called me out on it. I felt like a total tool for most of the evening. But you know what? It’s okay. No one got hurt. I made a minor mistake. All I can do from here on out is attempt to not park my car like an assclown. 😉 I think that same metaphor can be used in most other aspects of life; if we screw up one day, all we can do is try to be better the next day. That’s all we can really ask of ourselves.
03. Depression reminds me of how precious life can be. Life really is too short to be annoyed by petty bullshit. Life seems like it moves slow during the day-to-day monotony, but in actuality, it moves very quickly. I’ve learned to savor the small moments of happiness and contentedness. They can be fleeting, but they’re always going to come back. Everything on this earth is temporary, and the value of life is, well, invaluable. It’s important to be grateful, enjoy the small things, and live life to the fullest.
02. It’s important to swallow my pride and ask for help when necessary. I have this bad habit of bottling up my emotions, pretending I’m okay, and avoiding asking others for help. I suck at reaching out for help; there, I said it. But sometimes, we just have to lean others. Humans weren’t meant to go through life alone. I am definitely an introvert, but I still enjoy the company of other people. And depression has taught me that I need to reach out to others when I’m feeling down. Whether it be just to talk, to ask for advice, to seek medical help when necessary – it’s important that I get over whatever fear I have and seek out help. It doesn’t make me weak. It just means I’m a human, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
01. On the flip side, depression has forced me to realize that I am much, much stronger than I give myself credit for being. I’ve been through hell and back on a nasty mental roller coaster. If I can get through 4+ years of severe, debilitating depression, I can get through just about anything else. I am stronger than I think I am, and so are you.
Have you experienced depression, or any other mental/physical illness? What tough life lessons have you learned? I’d like to hear about it – if you’re comfortable with sharing.