17 Things I Have Learned from my Depression

A while ago, I was thinking about how my depression has become a doorway to better things. It has taken me a long time to learn, but opening up to my experiences rather than avoiding or looking for symptom relief, has changed how I think about my moods and mental health.

The reality is that we all have baggage. But when we repack our baggage it will become a suitcase that prepares us to better live our lives.

 17 Things I have learned from repacking my baggage

    1. The importance of learning to accept myself.
    2. Being present to myself, my relationships, my work.
    3. Listening and tuning in to my body, my emotions.
    4. The gifts within my adversities, my childhood, my “baggage.”
    5. Moods, triggers, feeling successful, and insecurity come and they go. They will not destroy me. Rarely are any of these things “permanent.”
    6. The importance of “valuing”: acting more on values than on goals.
    7. Acceptance and seeing myself accurately (awareness) are more important than having insights about why I reacted.
    8. Each day I need to do what is life-giving for me. Both for me and for my family.
    9. What people think of me does not matter. Reputation, acceptance does not matter. They feel good and yes, I need love from my friends, my family! But gaining “approval” will more than likely prevent me living fully or acting on my values.
    10. Often my depression, my anxiety serve a purpose, just like they have for most of my life. They are my distance, my retreat, my “numb box.” They reveal my need (and fear of) vulnerability, connection, risk, acceptance.
    11. I am capable of far more than I give myself credit. And that dreaming can be a way to avoid: What is painful, difficult or complex/confusing/not easily solved.
    12. Self care is one of the most important gifts I can give to myself. I need it every day.
    13. “The obstacle is the way” (to quote Ryan Holiday): My depression, my anxiety, my traumas, my adversities are my way forward… Not fixing, nor fixating. In acceptance, not judging, uncovering discarded parts of yourself, and in investing effort, and being accountable both for the decisions I have made and those I yet can make.
    14. My constant need to check my cell phone, social media, and other notifications is an addiction.
    15. I need to pay attention to my wife and what she says to me, to my body and what it says to me, to the state of my desk at work and the number of open windows on my computer. My clutter (physically and emotionally) contributes to my health or ill-health.
    16. I need to invest little attention to Facebook, to “Likes,” to “Followers,” to my “Online presence.” What matters is investing in life.
    17. I use food to cope, to deal with my stress and my unexpressed emotions and inner conflicts.

• • •

I will leave this today: What is life-giving for you and when was the last time that you took time for yourself? What lessons could you add to the list?

For more about Acceptance and Commitment Theory, click here.

This is where I am supposed to write some serious stuff about myself. But in reality, I just hope that you enjoy what I write. I hope it makes you smile, makes you feel a little lighter and enjoy your life a little more. Nope, it’s not therapy, but I am sharing the good stuff… the stuff that helps me.

If you like it, sign up for my blog and share my work. And if you want to go the extra mile, click here to vote for my page on Psych Central’s list of mental health blogs.

Keep it Real

Photo by Farhad Sadykov

 


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