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The Advantages of Dealing With Mental Illness

It’s been just over a year since I shared my first note dealing with mental illness and nearly two years since I wrote that note. I thought I was over it all at that point — the depression, over-thinking, dark thoughts. What I failed to realize is that you never get over it, you just learn to deal with it; to cope.

At 18, my parents separated. As a Kuwaiti-born Canadian living in Nova Scotia, this wasn’t my first time seeing this. I just never thought it would happen to my religiously-infused family. We believed more in fixing things than quitting but I knew it was too late for that.

My mindset changed. My happy-go-lucky personality turned into an act. My smile became a mask. For the next five years, my mind became obsessed with negativity. Everyday was a constant battle between automatic negative thoughts VS. forced positivity. I had to force myself to believe there was a reason for my existence.

That’s f**ked up right? Having to convince yourself that your own mother truly does love you? That’s mental illness. Even though my mother spent every day working to make my life easier, my mind would veer into the darkest holes and crawl into a ball. I would lay in bed for hours with no TV on, no phone, no food, just thoughts. I let it take over my entire body.

When I posted that note over a year ago, I thought it was all over. I was playing basketball daily, eating right and positivity became second nature. I didn’t realize that I had only completed phase 1; the easy part.

Today, I still fight. I’ve realized that it never completely goes away —I’m okay with that. Mental Illness is something we all experience. Whether you notice it or not, mental illness affects YOU.

We spend so much time denying the idea that we could be affected by something so negative, we never spend any time dealing with it. Even if it’s something simple.

After struggling to find my self-worth, lacking self-confidence and convincing myself that my future held nothing of significance, I realized that I was trying too hard to eliminate the mental illness to stop anyone from finding out I was THAT guy. Instead, I embraced it. That’s when things really changed.

Though every day is a constant battle, struggling with depression has taught me to appreciate the positive things. I became obsessed with finding fulfillment in making everyone around me better.

Because I struggled, I looked for signs of other’s struggling. Things that I never noticed in myself until it was too late. I became the change I wished to see in the world. I opened up with people in hopes of encouraging them to do the same. I emphasized thank yous, I love yous and I’m sorrys. I wrote down my feelings and expressed myself more. I let the feeling of vulnerability become the fuel to excitment. I appreciated nature, people, opinions and teachings. I analyzed weaknesses (in myself & others) and made them strengths. I took the time to get to know, understand and help everyone willing to share their story.

Nothing could bring me more joy than making someone else smile.

Depression, anxiety, paranoia, self-hate. I struggled. We all have. But now is the time to change how we deal with that. We need to stop bathing in our negativities and start emphasizing our positivity; our ability to change lives. We hold so much power in our hands that we’re left over-whelmed trying to use it selfishly. When you struggle, you’re left with war scars and lessons-learned. Lessons we can use to help the next person avoid the scars. We’ve forgotten the power of community — the power of changing lives. We’re a support system for someone that doesn’t even know it.

When you struggle with mental illness, there is no way of deleting it from your life. Those scars last forever. But when selflessness becomes your medicine, helping others succeed becomes your cure. Happiness, strength, positivity; it all comes with treating people with respect, listening to their stories and sharing the workload to a better life. We TOGETHER have the power to defeat mental illness while changing the world at the same time.

Two birds, one stone.

You ARE affected by mental illness. Whether you know it or not. Someone in your life is slowly dying to be heard, you just have to be willing to listen, relate, protect and change.

These are the advantages of dealing with mental health. Using our experiences to relate, protect and change the world. We have more in common than we know, we just have to take the time to talk to each other but more importantly, listen. Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone has so many stories built up, they just need an opportunity to be heard. To have their lives changed.

You hold that power. Let’s Talk.

Rest In Peace — To a man that worked his hardest to make us all a little happier.