What I like about having anxiety and depression

By Chloe Shadbolt

Do I wish that I never had anxiety and depression?

Short and simple answer – no.

Anxiety and depression certainly hasn’t made my life any easier. There are plenty of times where I’ve wished that I didn’t have it – for example, at the moment I’m struggling because there’s a lot of uncertainty and changes in my life. Mental health and uncertainty/change are basically enemies. Everything can be under control and then a change shows up (good or bad) and anxiety and depression blows it way out of proportion. My condition means that I can sometimes find it really difficult to leave the house, I don’t like arriving to social events on my own and I spend a lot of time crying and wondering why I’m finding life so difficult.

Mental health conditions certainly are not nice and I wouldn’t wish them on anybody. But they do also provide positives alongside the negative aspects. To help you discover some of the positives from your mental health condition, I thought it would be beneficial to share with you some of the positives that I have discovered.

Why am I grateful for my mental health condition?

  1. I am stronger than I was before;
  2. I am more determined to achieve my goals;
  3. I am prouder of my achievements (everything from going to the shop on my own to completing a degree);
  4. I probably wouldn’t have realised how supportive my friends and family actually are if I didn’t have anxiety and depression;
  5. My relationship with my boyfriend probably wouldn’t be as strong as it is now;
  6. I make sure I spend time to reflect and do the things that make me happy (I didn’t make enough time for myself before);
  7. I believe that I wouldn’t have been as close to God as I am in this stage of my life otherwise;
  8. I wouldn’t have been able to help others as much as I can now;

Without my anxiety and depression I wouldn’t be the same person that I am today. I wouldn’t be as strong or as passionate about the things that I want to achieve; I wouldn’t be as proud of my achievements or appreciate the sweeter things in life as much.

Although it seems incredibly difficult to imagine it at times, your mental health condition won’t always be a negative thing. I mean, a lot of the time it really brings you down and can really, really hurt, and I’m sorry for that. But there will be times (if you haven’t experienced some already) which will be positive. Don’t get me wrong, your condition is never going to be a really great thing. But it doesn’t have to always be really negative either.

My tips to help you see some of the positives your condition may have given you:

1. Reflect
I have a reflective diary and each day I write down a few sentences about how I felt, what I did and what I’m planning to do. Each week I reflect on what I achieved and what my plans are for the upcoming weeks. I also think about what I was proud of during that week. Sometimes I write down quotes or things that I’ve seen. I create little manageable plans for the things that seem daunting. And it really helps, just a few minutes a day can help clear your mind and help you to carry on. It will also be lovely to look back on it and see how you’ve developed and grown over time.

2. Talk, talk and talk some more
Talking is really helpful! Just having your normal chats with your friends and family can help you to recognise the positive aspects of your life – eg the friends you really appreciate, memories, hobbies, future goals and achievements. Either you discover those positives yourself, or the person that you’re talking to might highlight some positives within the conversation which you may not have thought of.

3. Take time to relax
Relaxing can really help to clear your mind of negative thoughts and help you to realise what makes you most happy.

4. Try to look for a positive in every situation
This can be tricky at times, but there is always a positive if you look hard enough. I even found positives when I was mugged and had my possessions stolen – in fact, I saw those positives pretty quickly (even though I was shaken up). In this particular situation: I realised how caring my family, boyfriend and friends are and how they were quick to help me; I was grateful for how the police dealt with the situation and I was grateful that I wasn’t hurt.

Don’t be discouraged if you’re struggling to see the positives – it took me a while to see them too. And sometimes, if I feel really down, then I forget that some of those positives even existed and have to remind myself later on. We’re human, it’s only natural that we see all of the negatives – but the more you focus on looking for those positives, the healthier your mind will be over time.

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