There is a lot about living with any mental illness that can be difficult. These challenges can lead to awkward social interactions, difficulty functioning in a normal day, hardships with work, personal relationships etc. Yet all experiences, the best ones and the bad ones, offer something for us to learn. And that is especially true of the best bad experiences.
For example, I once had a first date with a girl and we had to go to four different restaurants because the first three were closed. Despite this set back, it was one of the best first dates because of all the things my anxiety had me concerned about, that wasn’t one of them. Nor was it my fault. Instead, it was a great ice breaker that allowed me to really bond with this girl.
As for the relationship itself, it was great right up until it wasn’t. And even though the relationship itself wasn’t that serious or that long (only about three months), the end of the relationship triggered one of my first prolonged major depressive episodes. Worse still, rather that getting treatment for my depression, I self-medicated with alcohol for much of that summer.
Yet even those dark days are experiences I value because it taught me how low I can go, how easy it is to let the pain take you to a place you never thought you’d go. It is a lesson that I carry with me now in my work as a mental health advocate and recovery support specialist, strengthening my empathy and compassion for others who might still be in the darkness.
And that experience also taught me how good some people can be.
When people started to realize how much I had been drinking and just how bad I was doing, I expected them to judge me. To despise me. To run away and leave me. I expected to be discarded like the worthless person my depression convinced me I was. Instead, they rallied to my side. They cared. They helped pull me out of the darkness in a way that nothing else could have.
And I know without knowing you that you have those people in your life as well.
I know it because there are so many people who care, and who put in the time and energy to support others who might be in a dark spot right now, people who would rather respond to your cry for help than read your obituary.
Those times were beyond bad, but the best of the bad is something I still carry with me. Because the best bad experiences can ultimately leave you better than you were before. All you need to do is open your eyes to the best those experiences have to offer.
Thanks for reading, have a good weekend everyone.