By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
Are you learning from your issues?
People who are able to learn from their problems do better in the future. Whether you have an episode of – Major Depressive Disorder, Persistent Depressive Disorder or some other type of anxiety or depression it is important to learn the lessons from that experience. People who learn lessons from their issues seem to develop the skill of resiliency and they recover more quickly from future difficulties. Below are some of the lessons that your depression may be able to teach you.
Sleep is more important than hard work.
One characteristic of depression is changes in sleep. You may be sleeping far more than before or far less. Not getting enough sleep puts you at risk to develop or worsen your depression. Chronically getting too little sleep is one risk factor for episodes of depression and bipolar disorder. If you’re losing sleep in order to work more or longer, that loss of sleep may impair your judgment and eventually undermine the progress you are making in your work.
You need to take care of yourself.
Just taking good care of yourself will not automatically prevent depression, but part of the process of recovering from depression is learning to take better care of yourself. Depression teaches you the importance of good preventive self-care.
Taking care of you is not being selfish.
Another lesson depression can teach you is that in order to do for others you need to first take care of yourself. You will find that taking care of yourself is not the same thing as being selfish. Make self-care a priority to reduce the risks of future episodes of depression.
No one is perfect.
Depression can teach you that no one is perfect, there are plenty of improvement opportunities in every life. Being too hard on yourself can easily put you in a negative frame of mind. Trying to be perfect is setting yourself up for failure. Learn to accept yourself just as you are. Having this excepting frame of mind will help to inoculate you against future episodes of depression.
Sick people can do sick things.
Sometimes depression is a reaction to the hurtful things other people do to you. Depression can teach you that other people can sometimes do very painful things. Being a recipient of people’s negativity does not mean that you were at fault. Sometimes people blame themselves for things that others have done when in fact that other person is a very sick person. If someone has done something deliberately to harm you this does not mean you were at fault.
Stuff can’t make you happy.
It’s easy to slip into the trap of thinking if you just had more, bigger and prettier things, that then you would be happy. Depression doesn’t care how much stuff you have. Depression can teach you that experiences and relationships are far more important than material things.
Giving up on things can be a victory.
Persistence and dedication are virtues. Sometimes we continue to try for far too long. Learning when to let go of something that is no longer making you happy is an important step in recovery. Hanging on to lost causes is a sure way to increase your sadness and depression
It is OK to feel badly.
One lesson depression teaches is that sometimes it is OK to just feel the way you feel. It is possible to feel badly and simply accept that feeling. Just because something is hurtful, or painful does not mean that it needs to destroy you.
Feelings can be your friends.
Feelings, both good and bad can be your friends. Feelings provide you with information. They can tell you that things are good for you, or that they are bad for you. Just because you feel badly you do not have to fall apart.
Your experiences made you who you are.
Living through feelings, good and bad, can be painful, but it ends up teaching you valuable lessons. Your life experiences have made you who you are. You can stay stuck in the past asking why things had to happen, or you can make peace with what happened and accept that this has become a part of who you are.
You need to measure your accomplishments, not the errors.
Most people have had many accomplishments. Everyone who tries has some things that don’t work out the way they were planned. If you only keep score of your errors you’ll run up a very large score. When all you do was look at your faults it to be very discouraging. Make sure you give yourself credit for the things you have accomplished. It is likely that you accomplished far more things than you are aware of. Depression likes to obscure your view of the positive things in life.
Friends will either buoy you up or pull you down.
Depression can tell you a lot about friends. Some will help pull you up, others drag you down. Let depression teach you about the characteristics of your friends. Work on getting rid of friends who are negative. A good support system can help you recover from any adversity. Depression teaches you the value of good friends and encourages you to expand your support system.
What you tell yourself comes to be.
Words are powerful. The things you tell yourself tend to come true. Tell yourself that you can’t and you won’t be able to. Tell yourself that somehow you will find a way to get past this and things go better.
How to really be grateful.
When everything is going well we forget to be grateful. Depression teaches you to pay attention to the good things that happen in your life. Sometimes we can become so discouraged by the things we don’t have, we lose the pleasure from the very many things we do have. Recovery from depression can help you put all the parts of your life into proper perspective.
What lessons have you learned from your issues?
Take some time and consider what your personal issues may have taught you. Have your life’s struggles make you stronger and more resilient or have you ignored the lessons they were trying to teach you?
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.
For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.