About a week go, I was introduced to the idea of mental illness as a good thing.
(Hear me out!)
I have anxiety and depression, and it is no picnic. Unmedicated, there is not one good thing about it, and even medicated, though the days are more sunshine-y, I still drag around the medicinal ball and chain every day.
Let’s back up a little bit, though. Several years ago, depressed and anxious all day, every day, I was frustrated beyond despair that I could not “be the change I wanted to see in the world.”
I had a deep desire to help the homeless, the hungry. I wanted to be seriously involved in politics. I wanted to work with charities or even start a charity. I wanted to be a better human for other humans. My imagination ran wild with ways to save the world.
Except my imagination and reality did not match up. I could not do anything. I was strapped with an unshakable fear of failure, embarrassment, and a laundry list of other irrational thoughts about my abilities. Anxiety does that to a person. I was the cliche incarnate: all talk, no action.
What good am I?
I could not find my niche in the sea of humanity.
I put my philanthropic hopes and dreams on the back burner and worked to pull myself together for awhile. Even so, my imagination still frequently tried to figure out how to make the world a better place despite anxiety trapping me in my own body.
I realized that my destiny is not to help the homeless and hungry or to save the planet or advocate for human rights. My destiny, my only hope (at the moment) to save the world, is to suffer from anxiety and depression and use my experiences to be a candle in someone else’s darkest place. All of us with anxiety and depression have this unique gift. Do you hear that? WE HAVE A GIFT!!!
We are a formidable group knit together by a common struggle. We are each other’s greatest assets. We understand one another like no one else can. We stick up for each other. We let each other know that it’s OK to be sad, OK to be worried and anxious. We build one another up on dark days and rejoice together in the sunny ones. We understand the vast nuances of each individual’s anxiety and depression.
My destiny, my higher calling in this life, is to bring anxiety and depression into the mainstream and make people understand it, embrace it, accommodate it, and ultimately accept it. My destiny is to help others on their journey and come out stronger and more empowered on the other side.
I gladly carry this burden to be a light for those who cannot find it themselves. I believe that working to help others with anxiety and depression is a life-saving endeavor. I cannot solve the hunger crisis, I cannot provide resources and shelter for those without a home, I cannot single-handedly save the planet, but I can help a person with mental health issues move toward brighter days. This is my calling.