5 Things We Can All Learn From Depression

Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks

Brains are sneaky.

For too long I took my anxious thoughts at face value and just assumed they must be true. Anxiety is not always rational and the thoughts it produces certainly aren’t either. Becoming aware of how my brain worked was a vital part of separating what was and wasn’t real. The whole fight or flight response is just our brains trying to look out for us and in anxious people they are just a little over enthusiastic about releasing cortisol. Now I am more aware of when my brain is prematurely pounding the alarm Nicki Minaj style.

Professional help is ok.

I don’t love the concept of asking for help. For the longest time I incorrectly thought that getting help meant I was weak. Most of the advice I got concerning depression and anxiety was to exercise more, endorphins cure all, ect. However, the problem with those nuggets of “wisdom” were how can I expect to run away the sadness when getting out of bed is a struggle. Professional help can be key in identifying and coming up with a plan to help get you back on track. It is the opposite of weakness. Funny enough, once professional help came into the picture for me, I was able to train for and complete my first half marathon. Less funny though was at the finish line I dropped my phone in a port-a-potty.

Vulnerability is hard but essential.

I have a tendency to turn difficult things into a joke as a defense mechanism. I vaguely remember during a break-up for some reason I thought using the term “aggressively beat boxing” made sense. I feel it necessary to say I also had a fever of 103 at the time which is only like 4 degrees away from causing brain damage. Anyway, opening up about real things is basically tossing them into the light. Once they are out there they have a lot less power over you. I have seen time and time again how one person opening up has a domino effect on everyone else. Nearly everyone is a little messed up in one way or another. We should all be a little gentler with each other. As Troy Bolton taught me at a young age, “We’re all in this together.”

You are not special.

I think there is a lot of danger in so tightly clasping onto anxiety and depression as an identity. I used to label myself by what I suffered from and slowly those labels became crutches I would use as a way out of things. They became so tightly wound up into my identity I didn’t even realize I could and I should separate the two.

It is an incredible disservice to kill yourself.

Once you end your life, you also end the bits of life you brought out in everyone around you. Never again will they be able to interact in the individually unique way way only your personality brings. Humans are not carbon copies and without you we have a less clear image of who we all are. In a stained glass window each individual piece of glass controls the same light that is streaming in a unique way. Once one piece of the window is shattered, the image as a whole is ruined. We are all pieces of glass that play a bigger role in a beautiful masterpiece. We need every single shard. We are nothing on our own and we are nothing without each other. TC mark

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