Could depression’s pernicious traits have a positive side? I wouldn’t have thought so a while ago but lately I’ve been working on reframing the role that depression plays in my life. As a result I’ve repurposed the rumination, sadness, anger, frustration, fatigue and social isolation that define depression for me, into actual tools that I can use to dig myself out of a hole. Here’s how
1.Rumination Rather than trapping my head in a running loop of negative thinking, I try to use this trait to tenaciously pursue a solution to what is bothering me. If my energy is low, I take care not to impose too much work to solve my problem, instead waiting until I have more energy to implement the change. Other times, I simply accept the fact that there are things I cannot change.
2. Sadness When I make space for myself to experience grief, I find that empathy for myself, and others with depression, grows. I am more compassionate and patient. I now know how to respond to others who suffer the way I suffer — not with advice, but with kindness.
3. Anger and frustration These two emotions can be excellent motivators. Frustration indicates a need for change. Anger provides the necessary fuel. There are times when the two together have pulled me out of a slump and pushed me to do difficult things.
4. Social isolation The desire to isolate when I am depressed taught me to be comfortable in solitude. I rarely feel lonely when I’m alone. Solitude creates space for self reflection. I learn a lot about myself from spending time in thought and by journaling and writing.
5. Fatigue Weariness is an early warning sign that tells me I need to take better care of myself. As soon as I start waking up exhausted, I know I need to take action by eating properly, going to bed earlier and exercising. The inability to keep up with my responsibilities due to physical exhaustion has taught me that there are few things in life that truly have to get done. Sometimes just showing up to the game is good enough.
These are some of the ways in which depression has made me stronger and wiser, more patient, and more compassionate. If you also live with depression, I hope that sharing this has helped. Enjoy the rest of your week and visit my website at http://www.inmymessyhead.com for more insights and inspiration on this topic and others.