BREAKING NEWS!!!!!! A Benefit of Mental Illness Uncovered

I tend to think of mental illness as that ugly sweater you get from your great aunt at Christmas. You know what I’m talking about, the itchy wool one that doesn’t come with a gift receipt. Yet, there is a good thing or two about the gift—your aunt was thinking about you and in the case of being robbed, you’re guaranteed to have at least one article of clothing left!

So recently I’ve been looking to identify and appreciate aspects of my personality and life that are positively affected by my mental illness. One of the first things to come to mind is my natural tendency toward empathy.

I teach a class of K-2nd graders at church on Wednesday nights and they are AWESOME.  There’s nothing better than playing freeze tag with a bunch of munchkins to remind you of the good in life. After getting pushed down last Wednesday, a little boy came up to me crying and told me, “My elbow needs some love”.  How can anyone resist that?  I clearly couldn’t. So I let him curl up in my lap till it felt better.  Nobody can resist giving love and sympathy in a situation like that.

But what about other situations? Like say if an adult told you their elbow needed some love?

During a party my parents hosted for my dad’s college students, a girl was complaining to my mom about a high level of school stress. My mom looked at her and goes, “Yeah, go complain to Tabitha. She’s way better at the sympathy than I am.” So she came to me, vented a while. I did what I do and at the end she goes “Wow—you are good at this”.

While this is a minor example, I feel like I can be a comfort in more serious situations as well. While I cannot say, I “know how you feel” to everyone I comfort, I can say I understand pain. From my depression I understand hopelessness and despair. From my anxiety I understand fear and worry. From my bipolar I understand irritability and mood swings. And those feelings are never too far removed that I forget how painful they can be.

I like that about myself. I like that I can offer comfort and support to a wide variety of people. So while it might suck to have such intense emotions, in those times of comforting others I can honestly say I’m glad I have experienced them.

I write this to thank you all as well. This is a quality that is so pervasive in the mental health blogging community. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been uplifted by a reader’s comments. Or how many times I’ve read about a blogger struggling, just to see them give hope and encouragement on a fellow blogger’s site. You all are amazing!  Love and appreciate that about yourselves alright?!

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9 thoughts on “BREAKING NEWS!!!!!! A Benefit of Mental Illness Uncovered

  1. I agree, and I think that sort of compassion is available from all of us with mental illness, once we accept it and are on our road to recovery.
    Keep blogging!

  2. Shelly says:

    Thank you. I appreciate you too!

  3. sakuraandme says:

    Hi Nicole! *waving excitedly* 😃😃 This is exactly my personality!! We are so similar😊I’m just heaps older! *laughing*
    Great post!! …….Paula xxxx🎄🎆🎊🎉🎈

  4. NZ Cate says:

    Hi. I love this post so much, and I’m sure that through our hardships and suffering is how we can be comforting to others. I also love ““My elbow needs some love”. I’m hoping that line works for me some day. 🙂

  5. I think that sounds amazing! Glad you found your silver lining:) I also struggled a lot with the whole “good comes from bad” thing while I was trying to recover in the past months. To be honest at first I absolutely despised the idea that anything good or permanent can come from what I went through. But besides empathy, it also helped me think about a lot of things, and pursue a career that I would otherwise disregard as uncertain- only now it seems that life is too short to live anything else but the life I really want, whether I succeed or fail. And also sharing that dark part of my past- as awful as it was- with my partner, seems to have brought us closer than we would have ever been otherwise, I would imagine. Somehow I think, that now, I thought, I reflected so much on everything in my life while trying to recover, that when I’m completely recovered I will have a life I couldn’t have dreamed of before that…And that has got to be a great silver lining…
    And something else that made me really surprised. Someone told me I am not a lot more sure in myself and confident than before. So somewhere on the way of getting out of this nightmare I must’ve worked out some of my self esteem issues…pretty great, right?
    I guess a lot of good can come out of a bad situation. Which doesn’t make me feel better about what happened, I still hate it…but it is what it is, and I can only change what happens from now on …
    Sorry that I’m ranting for so long. Really love your post!
    Hugs, A.

    • Nicole says:

      I’m so happy for you that you have been able to identify some good things that have cone from your situation. I’m so sorry that happened to you; I can’t imagine the pain that must cause. Not to be Pollyanna another good thing is possibly the people you will be able to help that I could never relate to in the way you can. In just sharing your story you are already doing that. Which is never easy so good for you. I’m glad someone pointed out that your self esteem has improved. Since we live with ourselves every day we often don’t see our improvement. I’m still working on my self esteem so I’m proud of you!

      • Thanks:)) I’m happy each time I realize I have improved. And actually one day I even may be want to study something, may be get psychology degree so I can help others in the same situation, not only by words in a blog. It was hard, it is hard, possibly the hardest thing I have ever been through, especially since I left it in denial for too long and had fallen deep into depression before I was able to start working on it. But things have gotten way better though, so I’ll keep moving forward:) Good luck to you too! Seeing the positive in situations is one of the most important skills to have, I’m still working on mine.

  6. Oh, to clarify, I have no mental illness, but I did go through SA, and because of it- through depression and PTSD. Definitely life-changing.

  7. Great post!! Now I think about it, you’re right… I am a lot more empathetic and sympathetic than most of my non-depressed friends.. At last, a positive! 😛 xx

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