This week, I went to see my therapist, which I do bi-weekly. Before I left, she asked a very interesting question that I took time to ponder, although in the moment, I didn’t think.
The questions goes as followed: are you hanging on to your depression and anxiety? Is it acting as a comfort for you?
Now, at that time, my initial reaction was no. Why would I ever hang onto my mental health problems? And besides, I’ve been getting better. There’s no way that I would do that. But then I began to think. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and persistent depressive disorder when I was 10. My entire childhood has known these things and it has become a part of me. Now, six years later, I have high-functioning depression and anxiety. I work with a healthcare foundation in order to spread awareness of mental health problems. I’m open about my struggles. It’s become instilled in me that these are traits I have.
I think many of my positive traits, such as my empathy, are because of my mental health disorders and in that way, I have a better understanding of the world around me. I think that it has granted me a unique path from most other people in the world. So I suppose in some ways, it has become a comfort. It has become part of me and as it’s genetic, I know I will live my life like this. I know that with each day, I get better in handling situations, my thinking becomes less cognitively distorted, and my skills make issues more manageable. But, it’s also important for me to realize that I’m more than just my mental illness because if I internalize that as who I am, it makes getting better that much more difficult.
I think it’s fine to have pride in who you are and want to change how the world sees mental illness, but you need to make sure that it doesn’t stop you from getting better because you can’t cling onto it forever.
Do you think that you hang onto your depression and anxiety? How do you think depression and anxiety have affected or influenced other parts of your life?