Depression is a curious thing. On the one hand, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. On the other hand, it’s been kind of a blessing.
Depression has made me stronger, more self aware and more capable of empathy than I ever would have been otherwise. If I could turn back the clocks now and go back and never have depression, would I? Maybe not.
So, to explain that to anyone who is justifiably confused, here are six positive things that have come out of having depression.
READ MORE: What Depression Feels Like for Me
It’s Made Me a Stronger Person
It may not always feel like it, but depression has made me a much stronger person that I was before. When living with depression, each day can feel like one long battle with your own mind. Yet, many of us continue to go about our daily lives.
I am continuing to thrive even whilst going through some really dark and difficult times. I am doing well at work, growing this blog in my spare time, exercising and travelling.
It has also given me the strength to say no to things I don’t want to do. To break ties with people who are toxic to my mental health and be strong enough to write my own story on here.
I Have a Better Understanding of Myself
For years, I struggled with a feeling of discontent. I was constantly trying to change myself, my life and everything in it. I harboured such intense self loathing for myself. Yet it never occurred to me that wasn’t a normal way of thinking.
Turns out it isn’t. Depression forced me to address the underlying issues behind all of my struggles. I realised that my issues with body image and eating weren’t normal at all. That they were, in fact, causing a lot of my mental health problems. I am now able to start working on resolving those specific things.
Had I not developed depression, I may never have known how much those things were impacting my mental health. Even more scary is that I will have probably continued down that very unhappy, unhealthy path for many years to come.
READ MORE: On Being Diagnosed With an Eating Disorder
I Have a Greater Understanding of What Makes Me Happy
For many years, I found myself constantly striving for happiness. Moving cities, changing jobs, going travelling, moving countries, drinking too much alcohol. I thought that my situation was a problem that needed fixing, not me.
I’m still working on this one, but I’m slowly starting to figure out what it is that really makes me happy. I am much more able to take joy in the small, simple things in life and be content with where I am in the present moment without constantly striving for something more.
I Have Much More Empathy for People
I think I’ve always been a pretty compassionate person. Although I can sometimes get a bit fiery, I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings and feel deeply for someone when they feel bad.
My own struggles with depression have only served to emphasise that. I understand a bit more deeply that everyone is fighting their own personal battles, albeit some bigger than others, and that helps me be kinder to others.
I Exercise for a Reason Other Than Weight Loss
It took me years but I have finally discovered the joy in exercising. For as long as I can remember, I engaged in punishing exercise regimes in order to keep my weight under control and that just made me hate exercise with every fibre of my being.
But now, exercise is something that I have to do in order to maintain good mental health. I no longer do it to burn as many calories as possible and as a result, I’ve actually started enjoying it! I enjoy how much happier I feel after a run or how calm I feel during yoga and don’t feel pressured to go over the top.
READ MORE: How CBT Got Me Exercising Again
This isn’t a new blog. It actually started life as a travel blog when I was living in New Zealand years ago. But as I got busier with our web design business and depression began to creep in I kind of left it behind.
Three years later and in the process of recovering from depression, I have relaunched with a renewed focus on mental health. I’ve only been posting for a few months but it is already clear that this new blog is really resonating with people.