By now, everybody is stating what they are thankful for on social media while subsequently getting ready to dart out the door to buy things that might make them happier. Amid the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, I started questioning myself, “What are some positives of mental illness that I am actually thankful for?” It is so easy to get caught up in why we are miserable that we forget how mental illness might positively affect our lives. Don’t get me wrong, the negatives far outweigh the positives. But, in honor of Thanksgiving, I decided to write down a few reasons why I am thankful for the burden of mental illness.
1. Mental illness has given me compassion and understanding
I knew from a young age that most people in this world were selfish and cold. I’ve since been exposed to the harshness of this world over and over again. Despite the rude people of this world, I’ve tried my hardest to be compassionate and put myself in other peoples’ shoes. I believe mental illness has given me a passion to make people feel understood and appreciated. I know what it’s like to feel like you don’t matter, and I try my hardest to keep others from feeling that same way. In this sense, I am thankful for what my mental illness has taught me about kindness.
2. Mental illness has made me stronger
Mental illness has a way of creeping up behind you and incapacitating your life. When this happens, I feel weak. I feel like I should be able to do whatever I want without having an anxiety attack. I feel pathetic at times, to be completely honest. My family always told me that I am “so strong,” but I never agreed. I still don’t feel like I’m strong in the sense that most people think of it. For me, strength is getting out of bed every day not knowing what is waiting for me. Strength is getting through the day without having a breakdown. Strength is living when you don’t really care to live anymore. In this sense, yes, I am strong. And I believe anyone who has to battle their own mind every day has an incredible amount of strength and resilience. It is impossible for a mentally ill person to be “weak.”
3. Mental illness has made me resourceful
I don’t know about you, but the resourcefulness it takes to manage mental illness on a daily basis seems to deserve an award. From scouting out different mental health apps to memorizing your favorite grounding techniques and breathing exercises, anxiety forces you to be competent in managing stress. Training your mind to be resourceful can be very helpful in many different situations you might find yourself or others in.
4. Mental illness has given me an appreciation for my support system
My support system consists of my mother, father, two sisters, grandparents, one great friend who suffers from anxiety as well, and, of course, my doggy. I am so lucky to have such a large and caring support system, and I’m aware that a lot of people aren’t as fortunate as I am. I truly believe that if I didn’t have anxiety, I would never appreciate and love my family as I do. As miserable as anxiety is, I’ve gotten closer to a lot of people through my suffering, and gotten rid of some people who only made it worse.
5. Mental illness has made me intuitive
Through the years, I’ve obtained the skill of intuition. Being a person who has been anxious for most of her life, I can usually spot an anxious or sad person. This is useful for spotting people who need help and love. These people, like me, need extra encouragement and friendship; this is what I try my hardest to provide.
6. Mental illness has given me a passion
If I didn’t experience mental illness, I highly doubt I would be as passionate as I am about it now. I doubt this mostly because a majority of my friends and family who don’t suffer from mental disorders don’t give it much thought. I am thankful that I can relate to an anxious and forgotten generation. I want to help this generation (and others!) through this blog, which has become a sort of therapy for me.
7. Mental illness has made me appreciate happiness
I never realized how much I took for granted until I started slowly easing out of depression. Among these things I took for granted was happiness. I didn’t feel true joy for months, and when I eventually did, I became aware of how much I missed it. It’s still off and on, but I’m making progress. One day, I laughed. A true belly laugh where I couldn’t breathe, and I noticed that I couldn’t remember the last time that happened. I started noticing how beautiful the trees were in the sunlight. I started watching the squirrels in our back yard and being amused at their playfulness. I came to the conclusion that I had forgotten about joy for so long, and now I recognize whenever I have a positive emotion, and I’m thankful for it. Now, I appreciate any moment of peace, happiness, laughter, excitement; anything but anxiety.
Thanks for reading!
Happy Thanksgiving to you! I am so thankful for everyone who reads and supports this blog. I know the holidays can be rough for a lot of people. Just know that you aren’t alone and people care about you. Don’t forget to follow this blog’s Instagram account, @theanxiousteensofamerica, and the Facebook group, The Anxious Teens of America. Thanks again!