It may seem strange, but depression in many ways can be a blessing. Of course it can be a very serious illness, and of course it makes life almost impossibly hard. However, when you have depression and you face it, there is so much that you can gain.
As much as I hate my depression, I have long known that I owe a great deal to it. I forced myself to sit down to think about it clearly and then to enunciate everything lucidly, and in doing so, I came up with five different ways that I definitely believe struggling with depression has improved me personally.
1. It has made me more sensitive to other people’s needs.
In coming to know what I need in order to be in an optimal condition, I have been compelled to think about the same situation from another person’s perspective. What does he or she need in order to thrive? Maybe the little complaints or the seemingly ridiculous stipulations and requirements are actually not at all ridiculous to the person making them. Maybe they form a necessary condition for that person’s well-being. I don’t know.
What I do know is that I want to meet my own needs, even when they seem strange to other people. And this, thankfully, makes me more willing to satisfy the apparently odd or irritating needs of others.
2. It has helped me to be more empathetic about others’ feelings.
Having been forced to examine my own feelings minutely and to understand them thoroughly, I have learned so much about feelings in general. I have learned not only what they mean to the person experiencing them, but also how they can affect the entire outlook that person has on life.
This knowledge has made me more patient with others’ sufferings and has enabled me to enter into them more completely. We all suffer keenly in different ways, and when you are honest with yourself about your own sufferings, you appreciate those of others more.
3. It has taught me gratitude.
When everything is bleak, you have to force yourself to look for bright spots. They can be, and often are, immeasurably small things, but they are still things to rejoice over and to be glad about.
Happiness does not come naturally to a depressed person as it does to some people, and sometimes the only way out of a black mood is to compel yourself to find something to be grateful for.
In these situations, gratitude is like a ladder to one who is depressed: you first find a small thing to be grateful for, and then you think of another and then another and so on, until you gradually lead yourself out of your dark state of mind.
4. It has forced me to come to grips with my past hurts and to address them.
I have long been trying to resolve my depression, and the constant theme that I have seen throughout my journey has been the digging up and resolution of old wounds.
In attempting to address various aspects of why I am so sad, my reasoning often leads me to some way I was hurt in my earlier life. And since I want to get better, I have to face those wounds and seek to heal them.
Without depression, I don’t think I would have forced myself to dig as deep or to look as hard for resolutions.
5. It has taught me so much about myself.
In seeking a cure for my depression, especially through therapy, I have not only had to face issues from my past life, but I have also had to deal with my present self.
I have had to learn what it is that is making me tick, so to speak, so that I can figure out how to address the bad and how to accentuate the good. This process has illuminated many points of my character for me–what I need, what helps me to thrive, what causes me to fail, what triggers my unhappiness, what are my fears, and what are my strengths.
I don’t like depression. No one does. But if you handle your depression with courage and honesty, there is no end to the good it can do you. I am, in a way, grateful for my depression, because if I didn’t have it, I don’t think these five points would be developed to the extent that they are. As it is, I am a healthier and happier being because of my depression. (I love this paradox!)
Nobody would argue against the idea that depression is an evil. It is; it is a strong and forceful one. But I do think it would, at the same time, be hard to deny that out of this evil can come a great deal of good.