1. It has brought me closer to people Opening up to people in my life has enabled me to have deeper relationships with them. I have been cared for deeply and have cared for others too and this has enriched my life.
2. I have learnt so much about myself Having a mental illness takes you to parts of yourself you never knew were there. This is scary. Yet dealing with that has shown me how much strength I have. I've had quite a lot of therapy in order to recover, which has revealed things about my life which I probably otherwise not have discovered.
3. I am understanding Only a handful of friends know the full details of my mental health issues, but pretty much all of my friends know that I have experience of mental health problems in some form or other. This seems to makes them more likely to open up to me about their own problems. I have a several friends whose lives are affected in some way by mental health problems who talk with me about it in varying degrees.
4. It has enhanced my work
I work in a charity where I spent time on the phone and online listening to people who want to talk about things that are on their mind- relationships, mental health, abuse, sexuality and so on. I am a well-respected volunteer because I am able to listen carefully without shutting people down or judging their emotions.
5. I appreciate what I lost for a while For a few months I was trapped in depression and an eating disorder and I didn't go outside, communicate with any friends or do anything I loved. I couldn't even read or write- my two biggest loves in life! I was terrified I would never be back to how I used to be. Things did return, and when they did it wasn't the same because I experienced a had a new sense of appreciation for what had been lost.
[photo of me when I was 21]
6. Success tastes even sweeter After an incredibly unstable and volatile time at university, I managed somehow to get my degree. Recieving my degree was a hundred times sweeter than it would have been had I not had mental health problems, because I knew what I had overcome in order to gain it. My degree ceremony felt like a personal, as well as an academic, celebration.
7. I'm not afraid of the trickier, darker side of life Knowing my own darkness makes me less afraid. Nothing about emotions and mental health surprises me anymore!
8. I feel like I can face anything now If I've got through major depression, an eating disorder and life with BPD, surely I can get through most things?!
9. I can relate to a wider set of experiences than I did before If you've been through mental illness, you will have been to some very dark, very confusing and probably very lonely places. This can stand you in good stead for understanding a variety of experiences. 10. Feeling my own purpose in life I have had support from some wonderful people- family, friends and professionals. I have been shown kindness, loyalty, patience and expertise that has inspired me to be a kinder and more helpful person.
I want to help create a society that is more understanding and supportive of people with mental health conditions.