The World Health Organisation reports depression is one of the most common illnesses worldwide. More than 264 million people are affected. On the one hand, we cannot disagree that depression is debilitating and the leading cause for the rise in suicides, but there’s more to the symptoms than we see depicted.
Having had depression and anxiety simultaneously, I wanted to share the many ways I have found it has helped me to become successful.
Stronger & Accepting
People always describe depression as a fight, but in my experience, it’s about acceptance. Calling it a fight means we have to work ourselves up to a battle, making it feel harder to gain control of.
Accepting my depression has allowed me to stare into the eye of the very thing which has crippled me and tell it I’m going to climb out of the hole. Depression had filled me with fear, telling me I was nothing, and distorted the life I had, making only the bad shine through. But, when I accepted its existence and worked to find the root of it, I found myself with the courage and strength I never knew I had.
It provided me with confidence and belief in myself, now knowing if I can defeat the shadow in my mind, there is little else to stop me.
While in the throes of depression, I found myself struggling to do the ‘little things. My mind was heavy with emotions I couldn’t process, and everything was cast in dark shadows. When the thoughts lifted, I found myself able to tap into those emotions and use them for good.
As a writer, I wanted, and needed, to turn my experience, thoughts, and emotions into something tangible for other people. Those weeks, and even months, of me being in a depressive state opened me up to have a deeper connection because I couldn’t hide from how I felt. Since then, I’ve been turning the sadness into something to champion, so others can learn and feel less alone.
Becoming More Empathetic
I hid behind a smile more often than I wore my sadness. It’s a common trait amongst those who suffer from depression. Because of this, I now know the importance of checking in with others, making sure to listen beyond the words, and give them space to talk. Sometimes, people need to know that someone is listening to them.
Since my depression, I’ve found I can listen better and read people easier. A smile isn’t always a smile; someone saying they’re fine doesn’t mean they are. These are small things, but they make a huge difference, take a colleague or friend aside and ask if they’re okay. From my experiences, I know how much it would have meant if someone asked me when I’d been so close to crumbling.
A Sharper Mind
At the time, I didn’t realize how sharp my mind had become when I was depressed, how much I noticed things all around me. Being alone and often in deep thought, provided me with the tools to see things from multiple perspectives.
Without this deeper level of thinking, I don’t think I’d be able to keep my cool as often as I do. I may turn quiet, but the space I carved for myself in my mind—the one I retreat to—has become a haven of profound thinking and allows me to be more attentive.
Motivation & Appreciation
I found myself appreciating the little things at the end of my depressive state.
When we are sad, it’s an alarm telling us something is wrong, forcing us to discover the root cause. When we’re happy, we don’t notice that we are, usually taking it for granted.
Knowing I’ve faced something which has tested me has given me the tools to keep my calm, and appreciate things. I am more forgiving of people and even able to relate more to others. I also understand that how you act and present yourself plays a huge part in affecting those around you. Being positive, and being appreciative, has motivated and inspired those around me to be more positive. We can’t enjoy the brighter days if there weren’t any cloudy ones to compare it to.
I’m not sure if it was all the time lying in bed feeling low or all the tears, but I found a deeper love for myself. This person who had gone through so much faced such a challenge yet found a reason to smile.
I believed in myself in a way I had never done. Understandably, I wouldn’t say I like small things off days, but I turn that into a way to appreciate something small about myself. This has allowed my confidence to grow, to even go for things the ‘old-me’ may not have ever even glanced at.
Without having faced depression, I don’t think I’d be as strong as I am now. I wouldn’t be as confident and as caring. I also know I wouldn’t have shot for the stars as I have done recently, including having the strength to write this article.