There are so many reasons that I’m not grateful for my mental illness. I’ll be writing about those soon, but I thought I’d start with the positives. It’s snowing outside and I’m feeling cosy and I don’t want to have to think about the ways which I’ve suffered. Adversity brings good things with it. And being ill has definitely improved my character in a number of ways.
Compassion. I can empathise with others a lot. I know how to be there for someone when they’re suffering without being an intrusive presence. I think that’s because of how much I’ve suffered in the past. I’m quite hyperaware of other people’s emotions and sensitivities. That helps me when I want to help others.
Connection. With everything I’ve gone through, there’s not much that phases me. This allows me to be very comfortable and confident in social settings. I’ve always found it quite easy to make connections. Connection is a very important thing to me and I’ve always valued my ability to feel comfortable when I’m around new people.
Appreciation. When things are going well and I have a period in which I find it easy to feel serene, I really appreciate it. I’m very able to relax and settle into a peaceful mindset when I’m allowed to. I think I’m very aware of the beauty of positive emotions and I can really immerse myself in them. In a world where people are sometimes too busy to feel relaxed, I love that I can do this.
Sense of Humour. I always feel like such a loser when I talk about how good my sense of humour is. You feel like one of those oul’ fellas who drunkenly reminds you in a pub setting that there’s nothing he won’t “take the mick out of.” But my sense of humour is one of my most prevalent traits. I’m able to laugh at a lot of things about myself. I’m so glad that I’m more able to show that in interviews and other media opportunities now. I have a life where it would be very easy to treat everything with intense seriousness, so I love that I’m able to see the lighter side of things.
Inspiration. I’ve found a lot of inspiration from my mental illness. That much is clear. I have a ton of posts documenting my journey to recovery and back again. It’s hard to say whether I’d be a writer if I’d never been ill, but storytelling is such a part of my identity now that I’m grateful for any bit of inspiration I can get.
Toughness. I know what matters in my life and what doesn’t. I used to say I’m tough enough to fight anything that comes my way, but I now know that we all have our limits. However, I’ve proven to myself and to others time and time again how tough I really am. It’s a cool thing to have the knowledge that you can handle an awful lot of adversity. It’s reassuring to have the strength which comes from building up your character so much.
Self-Awareness. I’ve had to do extreme self-reflection and self-analysis because of my illness. I’m at a point now, where although I’m discovering new things about myself all the time, I’m very well acquainted with my emotions and my behaviours. It’s a very positive thing that I’m so knowledgable about myself, because I can very quickly identify when I’m suffering and what I need to do to ease that suffering.
Read about how I turned my bed into a sanctuary for myself when I’m suffering here.
Watch the reason I used to feel like a hypocrite below: