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Lessons from Depression Part 4: People are worth fighting for.

These past weeks have been an interesting process of stopping to explore lessons learned from depression, and living alongside our Black Dog. To step back, look under the surface and hunt for the treasure in the bleakness.

Often we hurtle through life at crazy speeds, living a never-ending-to-do-list.

We risk getting to the end of our lives and looking back with regret at the dreaPeople are worth fighting forms unfulfilled, the people unvalued, the opportunities not taken. I have written here about this a lot, as I believe passionately that

life is for living abundantly and joyfully.

Being aware of who we are and what we can do, and celebrating that we have so much now: we can choose to live today making the most of that.

But often we live on-hold, waiting for the time when we have more….more peace, more time, more freedom, more money, more success, more love…you name it, we live thinking that we need it.  Depression can make you feel that life is on hold – numb, cheated of hope or any sense of enjoyment, wasted years. And that is one of the devastating consequences of this awful mental illness. But it brings me to lesson from depression No 3:

People are worth fighting for

It can be all too easy for any of us to look at our lives and think – this is as good as it is going to get, to give in to compromise that pleases no one, to shut down to hopes and dreams and lose sight of that part of yourself.

But stop and ask yourself – is this the life I really want to be living?

For us, the Black Dog eventually prompted us to:

  •  take stock
  • talk about the illness and let others in
  • get help
  • learn to communicate better
  • grow to understand our own needs
  • and seek to change ourselves rather than each other.

And at the root of it all, to realise that being our best selves, together and individually, was worth fighting for. I have learned to say no to the temptation to accept the this-is-as-good-as-it-is-going-to-get resignation for the rest of my life (to be honest, sometimes this would be a lot less hard work and tiring).

Instead, to grab hold of the Black Dog and it’s companions of frustration, compromise, anger, hurt, negativity, and grapple and wrestle with them.

I want more from my life.

People matter – you matter.

Each of us is a unique individual who is worth celebrating and fighting for.

Each of us can choose how we respond to life each day.

Life can be brutally hard, lonely, painful and shocking sometimes. We don’t often have control of external events. But we do have choice in how we respond, and how we support and value each other.

Having people in our lives with whom we can be free to be ourselves, who challenge us to be the best version of ourselves, and embrace our efforts to grow in character and maturity with all our mistakes along the way – for me, there is little that is more important than this. Whether it is with MB or with friends who inspire me and celebrate life with me.

Living alongside depression has taught me to be real, honest and vulnerable. To narrow the gap between the person people see on the outside and the real me on the inside. And in doing so, being willing to celebrate what I am good at and what is important to me, and learning to accept responsibility for less palatable aspects of my character and seeking to change and grow.

We can’t change others – I couldn’t change MB, not by sheer effort, force of will, love or anger.

But I could take responsibility for changing myself, and my approach to him. And of course we can only start to change ourselves when we fully understand ourselves.

If that idea sounds appealing – gaining more self-awareness and understanding – but you don’t know where to start, then The 10 Things Challenge is for you.

If you know someone who is suffering from depression, take time to watch this very helpful video. Give them time, space and consistent support.

If you know someone whose partner or close friend is suffering from depression take time to ask them how they are. Listen to and affirm them in their often lonely role, and provide opportunities for distraction, fun and simple enjoyment where they can be themselves without any expectations.

If you are living with someone who is suffering from depression, YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB! Hang in there, talk about how you are and make sure that you have trusted people around you with whom you can very definitely be ‘not fine’.

Take time to understand your own needs, and make time to care for yourself. People are worth fighting for – that includes you.

Inspired? Encouraged? Get in touch!

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