Positives about people with depression

I was reading one of those “things happy and successful people do” things, and it occurred to me that sometimes, happy and successful people are obnoxious and arrogant (see this for someone who thinks we can’t even be kind). That’s a brokenness no less dangerous. Who amongst us is healthy enough to be able to love, to live “authentically”?  Is there a threshold? Hardly. There are, indeed, virtues that many of us people with depression share in greater amounts and concentrations than “healthy” people, and that society SHOULD value. I wrote some down. Feel free to argue or add.

  1. Caring. Most depressed people care a lot about everything- their relationship with you, their work, if they said the wrong thing- and each failure hurts them deeply. Yes, it’s bad for them, but wouldn’t you rather people cared too much than too little?
  2. Strength. You may not see the lead suit that your depressed friend carries around, that makes every task many times harder than it has to be, but she gets strong from the constant strain. When depression lifts, doing things is like flying. If you’ve ever dieted, you know how hard it can be to avoid temptation multiple times a day. Severely depressed people are even stronger. They have to exist in a world where there are many trees and rivers and trains and guns. Just being alive, much less doing anything, with depression is a sign of strength.
  3. Rumination. One of the root causes of depression is basically thinking too much. Most depressed people think all the time, and these thoughts are so interesting, that they make up many of our best writers, artists, and musicians.
  4. Compassion. Depression is the best training-ground for compassion. One learns about pain, and hiding pain… they say that at the worst, one is in too much pain to empathise, but that’s not always true. Most depressives start off “over-sensitive”, and it just gets stronger.
  5. Excellent friendship. Most avoid befriending people with depression, because they aren’t “fun”- they even drop these friends, leaving them lonely. Many make great listeners, appreciate you much more than normal, and don’t want to hurt you. If they start feeling really bad, they will try to isolate themselves from you despite their strong need for you, so you don’t get annoyed or hurt. And when they get better, they’ll remember who was there with them, with a fierce loyalty.
  6. Coping- Like you’d ask an army ranger if you wanted to know how to prep yourself for the zombie apocalypse, you ask a depressed person how to deal with any emotional or life issues. They are experts! Thankfulness exercises? Sensory therapy? Cognitive questioning? All that and more! Bet they noticed the flowers coming out and the shade of the sky. Did you?
  7. Cool stuff. Your depressed friend has embarked on another self-improvement quest, out of desperation or advice from therapists- classes, groups, reading… there’s a lot more time to do this when you’re not hanging out with friends as often, and you need to keep busy to keep your mind occupied. Ask- depressed people often keep the best parts of themselves hidden out of fear of rejection or underestimating their talents.
  8. Spirituality- I do know depressed atheists, but most of the people I know are religious, and find that their depression is the desert wilderness in which they wander, becoming deeper in their faith, and even though they might not be willing to broadcast it (due to low self-confidence), probably have a very deep and meaningful relationship with their God, even though (or because of?) the spiritual disconnect that often comes with the most serious depression.
  9. Seeing the best in others. Part of hating yourself, is comparing yourself unfavourably with everyone else. It’s not healthy, but it’s very common among depressed people. From this bad habit, comes a beautiful thing. Ask a depressed person about others, and often you will see beauty in the other that you have never noticed. It’s the other half of that broken, tarnished, ugly reflection- a deep appreciation of other people’s gifts.
  10. Recovery- Most bouts of depression begin and end. And when they’re over, your friend has all these wonderful benefits, plus happiness. Don’t you want to be a part of that?
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