Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Can My Depression Make Me a Better Person?

As the commercial says, "Depression hurts," but is it possible we can become better people because of it? I contend that we can, but it takes the right attitude and an unshakable faith in a better future. Carrying oneself in a dignified manner, despite the pain we feel while coping with the effects of anxiety and depression, can prepare us for the future we so desperately want. Despite the way we feel we must always remember that we are bigger than than this illness, and in time it will end. And after it does, we are going to have to look ourselves in the mirror and evaluate how we handled our adversity. What image do you want staring back at you?

I wasn't always so confident. Not so long ago I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I would be sick forever, and my life would continue to fall apart. I split my time between coping with anxiety and depression, sometimes both, and I wore my misery on my sleeve for everyone to see. If I was going to be miserable I was going to make damn sure that the "healthy"people around me were miserable too. I threw a world class pity party, and I was the guest of honor.

One day that changed. My father, with whom I was not close at the time, came to see me and it just so happened that he picked one of my worst days. I began with all the familiar lamentations of how I was suffering, all of which he listened to patiently. When I was finished he calmly asked, "What can I do to help?" That question caught me off guard, and after pondering it I realized there was nothing he could do, and I responded in kind. He then said, "If there's nothing I can do, why are you so intent on constantly complaining every time I see you? What good has ever come from complaining about how you feel? Can't you see that the only effect it has is to make all of those around you miserable? Is that your goal?"

I was speechless, and he was right! All this bitching and moaning was repelling everyone I loved. They couldn't stand to be around me, and that made me feel even worse. What exactly was I hoping to accomplish by making everyone around me miserable?

Before my Father left he said, "Your life is going to be judged on what you do from here. Let go of the past, learn from it but let go."

I can't say that this advice totally cured me from my complaining addiction, but I did admit I had a problem and have since lived quite differently. I still have symptoms from time to time, but I don't feel the need to let everyone know. When I do suffer, I suffer with dignity and this has made a huge difference in the way I feel.


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