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Are there any positive benefits from depression? Thursday January 5, 2017

Despite having lived with/survived depression for many many years, I am still not sure about the answer to this question.

But it would be terribly sad wouldn't it if there were none? No benefits whatsoever from all these years of depression.

So I have set myself the task of thinking positively about feeling depressed and to find ways in which my life has not exactly been enriched by it, but has benefitted in some way.

Depression has enabled me to think deeply about life, about my life and the world around me. I notice things, the minutiae of life.

Depression dulls extreme emotion, which can be a good thing in that it sort of protects me from getting too involved emotionally. I still 'feel' but I suppose not being confident of how exactly I feel, I tend to err on the side of caution and reserve judgement in many instances.

Depression gives me time to reflect; it prevents me jumping into a situation that I may find it difficult to get out of.

I suppose I feel a bystander looking on.

I read a lot, novels, and newspapers and am up to date on current affairs. I am quite a serious person most of the time and think rationally.

I make an effort all the time to fit in, be nice to people, make others feel happy and good about themselves.

Now all this might seem gloom in itself and also many might think, well Jul, you don't have to be depressed to have all these 'qualities'. A normal, well balanced, non depressed person might also be like you.

And my answer would be yes, that's right so my conclusion would be well maybe I am not as depressed as I think or feel. Maybe I am normal!

Can you think of any benefits, your mental health issues, bring to you and others?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Another Sally Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 8:55am

Firstly, my mother always said that you cannot really have the 'ups' without the 'downs'. So I have always borne that in mind when I am down.
Secondly, let me be the first to comment that, without depression, I would not have become a Moodscoper and met all the wonderful people who blog and comment every day. I have read thousands of emails since I first heard Jon Cousins on Radio 4 and have been touched by the candour of others and the caring shown in comments.
I met a very dear friend whilst attending a 'Coping with Life' course and because we were both there for depression there was no need to 'come out' as someone who is often visited by the black dog. Incidentally we are both dog owners and it gives us another connection.
So, for me, that is three good things that have come out of my depression.

Warm hugs to all who need them today. Gardener, I think of you and wish you well. I am particularly fond of France and your descriptions can sometimes take me there. HO I like the jokes and, if short of time, I scroll down to see if you have posted one. I can't name all of 'my' regulars but thank you all for being there.
Love Another Sally xx

Hopeful One Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 10:49am

Hi Another Sally- thank you for your kind sentiment. Just for you. Warning - this joke has adult content which some readers may find offensive. A father buys a lie detector robot which gives people a tap on the wrist if they lie. He decides to test it at dinner that evening. "Son, where were you today?" The son says "At school dad." The robot gives the son a tap . "OK I watched a DVD at my friends house!" "What DVD ?" The son says "A toy story."The robot taps the son again. "OK , it was a porn DVD" cries the son. "What! When I was your age I didn't know what porn was" says the dad. The robot taps the dad. Mum who is watching all this laughs "He's certainly your son." The robot taps the Mum on the wrist.

Another Sally Fri, Jan 6th 2017 @ 8:26am

Thanks for the morning smile.

Another Sally Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 8:56am

Sorry, forgot to say hi Jul. Thanks for a thought provoking blog. Take care. Xx

Leah Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 9:04am

What an onteresting blog. I sometimes find this need to find the positive in everything, can be annoying at times.
I am glad you found benefits from depression. I suppose I would have to think long andhard to find any benefits for me. AS I have said before I can not write when I am depressed or write eloquently with hindsight about depression.

I always like your writing as you write with honesty qnd compassion.

Leah xx

Orangeblossom Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 9:43am

Hi Jul thanks for your blog which I found beneficial and thought provoking. Looking for positives in an apparently difficult situation is taking me a long time to learn.

LP Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 9:50am

Hi Jul,
I agree with Another Sally that Moodscope is definitely a huge positive. I've learnt so much about life on here and the sense of companionship and belonging is great.
Also up there is my compassion. Having suffered lows I want to be there for others who are suffering and share anthing that i have learned as a result of having experienced anxiety and depression.
Thank you for a great blog Jul. Love and lightness to all.
LP xx

A View from the Far Side Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 10:13am

Jul, another perfectly prescient blog. I feel a lot of affinity with you and what you've written. The feeling of being a bystander is both a curse and a boon - I think a lot of writers/creatives have it. I wrote in the poem that I put on here 'you at your centre have love the placenta and me at my centre have hole the conjecture and outside that space are iced walls of face.' That's what I mean about being like a bystander. However, if I didn't have the depression/downs, I wouldn't be able to write words like that which, I hope, speak to other people.

Mary Wednesday Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 10:15am

Hmmm. I think this is going to sound very selfish, but, without my depression I wouldn't be "me". Well, not just the depression but the whole bipolar thing. And I rather like me; I wouldn't want to be different. Oh yes, I dream of being financially successful with my business, achieving recognition within the company of which I am a franchisee, of publishing four or five novels a year to a large and adoring fan-base - but would that keep me humble and compassionate?
I don't want to get too religious here, but Jesus said something about storing up treasure in Heaven rather than here on earth. If I didn't have bipolar I would not spend my life in service, I would want to be served. That wouldn't be good for anyone.
So I'm choosing to embrace it, to claim it and be responsible for it - and to find every little bit of good in it I can. Unlike Leah, I am fortunate in that the words do not desert me when everything else does. If the words disappeared too, then my answer might be different. Love to all of you - as LP and AS have said above, without this condition, I would not have met you wonderful lot.

Nick Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 11:07am

This is a thought-provoking post. Thank you for sharing those thoughts.

Rebecca Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 11:20am

I think a positive for me is I do my utmost not to upset anyone. I am different to you Jul as I am very emotional and feel too much. Have been known to overreact before I think. Makes me wonder if suffer pure depression or mild bipolar at times.x

Tychi's Mum Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 12:42pm

Hello and Happy New Year to all of you lovely Moodscopers. I haven't been able to make time to log in over the Christmas period and I have missed you all.
Thank you Jul for a really thought provoking blog. I am just reaching the point in my journey where I can start to think about any positives. If you'd asked me that 6 months ago I would have said with certainty that there aren't any...but now I can see some tiny positives.
Finding Moodscope has been a huge positive for me. I take great comfort and strength from everybodies very wise words. And, tracking my mood allows me to feel a bit more in control of my illness. It helps me to see what might be lurking around the corner...
I definitely appreciate the good times more....every day that I feel well I am thankful. I know that sounds really cheesy but it is true.
I have always had alot of compassion and empathy for other people but now it is more so. If I can help anybody that is struggling or feeling low I will do my best.
It's interesting that a few of us have written about being "nice" to other people. I have always strived to do that. It stems from a desire to NOT be like my Mum but that's a whole other story for a different day...!
I saw a post on Facebook that said something like; "We have no idea what other people are going through in their just be's that simple." I think this is so true, we all know the inner turmoil that we have to live with and the "brave face" that we show to the world. If people knew what we were going through I'd hope that they'd be nice. I know when I'm struggling the tiniest negative comment can have a hugely detrimental effect.
I wish you all a day of "niceness"!
HO, I loved your joke today...very funny.

Hopeful One Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 4:49pm

Hi Tychi's Mum- Thank you. Keep going - you are on the right track. Those positives will soon start ' joining up'.

DAVE Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 1:28pm

Hi Jul,
I'm really impressed that you should make a positive statement as to whether there are any benefits coming to those who suffer Bipolar/depression.
In my reply to Anne's blog on Tuesday 3rg Jan, I gave an opinion, which encapsulates your question, I should just like to add to that already blogged !

Like you I have suffered many years of Bipolar weather/depression, and to add to Mary's blog today, I too am caught up with a heavenly being with a blind faith in God, in whose presence I felt when at my journey's end...or so I thought, a time where NO tunnel and NO light was visible, we've all been there I'm sure.
However I prayed and 'felt' no voices, no loud bangs, no visual communication at all, just after about the fifteenth time in our bedroom crying my heart out, I was alone, my wife was at part time work....But I kept getting this very very strong 'FEELING' that I should 'KEEP OCCUPIED'.
So I did as prompted...I painted all the inside rooms of our house.

It took my mind off myself...(see Tuesday's blog to Anne).
From then on I viewed my life differently, I did NOT hide the fact I was Bipolar, everyone knows at church.

So why am I saying this, well when we have suffered as you have Jul, the benefit to me is this....since that 'Painting revelation', I believe the benefit with out doubt to me is that...I have gained more compassion for others suffering similar or other types of adversities. I realized that someone above is answering my prayers, and that 'LOSING' myself in serving others so suffering, has, it seems, given me more MENTAL capacity to help others...In so doing I am helping myself, I 'feel' someone ? A God ? is blessing me with untold help...Too many similar instances have arrived on my 'doorstep' to be COINCIDENTAL....So to me the benefit of depression in this light, takes me away from the negative to a positive persona.
I am a Mormon of 40 years, but 'MY' religion is based upon the 'HEART' as expressed on Tuesday.
I'm 'OFF' the groove and much more self confident.
Take great care Jul.
God bless

DAVE Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 1:34pm

Ps predetermined text ?
2nd paragraph...Not Bipolar weather/ depression, but Bipolar/depression...whether you believe that or not ! !


Caroline Ashcroft Moodscope Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 2:35pm

Hi all, I've had a message from Jul. She says thank you for your comments. She's away at the moment so can't reply, but she is able to read them so will respond when she can. Carolinex

the room above the garage Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 3:25pm

Ah Jul, I sometimes feel we are time twins. You describe me here. The more I understand my depression, the more I can see it as something that walks beside me but is not me. For me, that has made it much easier to view my depression fairly. In the worst of times I can think of nothing good to come of it, only that not to feel suffocated would give me 100% 'life'. And yet, when I'm at the higher end of my constant low, I'm grateful for having been taught lessons only a depressed person would know. When a good day comes along, I feel I have been given the most precious gift and can smile from a place I fear the non depressed have not enjoyed. Knowing the down has allowed me to cherish and value the simplest things and I'm not sure I'd like it any other way. (That said, I would love to know how my children would have grown with the me who did not stand behind the glass afraid to break through. Perhaps mother's guilt is part and parcel of parenting though and nature/nurture is still a valid debate!). In short, whilst I'd love to be shown the 'what if' I think I've benefitted far more from the lessons than not. And...dare I say it...if everyone in life had experienced depression, I do wonder if a fully compassionate world would emerge. Great blog today, thank you, love ratg x.

Jojosinc Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 5:50pm

I've never posted before but felt the need on this one (maybe I'm just shy) I feel similar in that someone that hasn't experienced depression can't appreciate and value the simplest things (ratg puts it much more eloquently than I could) in the same way. So from that point of view I reckon that there is positives to knowing what it is really like to be depressed (rather than the throw away comment some folk make when they are bored/fed up/having a rough day at work!) and what it is to be well and appreciate the little things. I have even gone as far as saying (in some respects) it's a gift (some days I look to take it back but the receipt is long gone!).... Will stop now as in danger of rambling... Oh, and I always appreciate the moodscopers!

The Gardener Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 3:52pm

Mary - I don't think it's selfish at all seeing your depression as 'part of you'. We are a sum of all our parts? If I could dissect the characters we have known over the years, those who did not 'go up and down' would probably be rather boring. There are two friends whose extremes of character (self-obsession and total immunity to the needs of others) had made the friendship impossible to continue - and I'm not talking 'losing it'. I can only relate to Jul's excellent blog from the 'other side' dispensing tea, sympathy and listening to interminable phone calls. I'd never hang up on them - but oh, trying to inject a message of hope, or a positive view, leads to frustration. I've always been hopeless at lying - so claiming somebody at the door or a saucepan on fire gets me nowhere. Good days for me are like yesterday, when I yacked all day and did NOT feel guilty at what I had not achieve. But my life is spent struggling against despair - which leads to clinging to the lifebelt - here on Moodscope and my numerous correspondents - who might see like my permanently depressed friend - the 'Old Man of the Sea' I think.

Freya Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 6:53pm

This is such an interesting blog. When you are in a depression, it doesn't seem possible that there could be any positives. I have had two episodes, and whilst they were awful, I also think they gave me a greater depth and understanding, of my self and others, and an empathy towards others.

The Gardener Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 8:37pm

Jul - your 'make others feel happy and good about themselves' has just given me a sardonic laugh. I don't know why, but my b-in-law tells me his troubles first - perhaps, as Freya says, depression (mine was long ago) gives greater depth and understanding. I now find I am STILL the leaning post - tonight rich. Organising for tomorrow - weather not good - will drive to airport in hope daughters plane can land - first heating up house for Mr G to come back. Then my b-in-law phones, he's had a fall - told me in great detail. He has a panic call button - does he use it? No. He has neighbours, does he call them? No. He has a daughter - has he called her? No, he 'does not want to worry her'. Am I impervious to worry? So, I shelve my lot - find he had not eaten - go and get some port and a load of biscuits. He'll call the Doc tommorow, me 'you'll call the panic button now, or I'll get no sleep'. He's worried about the stairs (he's 90, lives alone). Install a stair lift - too expensive. Bit off the point - but depressed and lonely people need contact - I am going to go into business as an agony Aunt - there has got to be money in it, I'm treated like one anyway. Off to hot blanket and a silly book, over and out.

Anne Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 9:47pm

Thanks Jul - I agree with a lot of what others have written, whilst when in the depths finding anything positive can feel impossible... and yet, when not in that solitary dark place, I can see a range of positives...not least meeting others (like here) who 'get it' - 'accept it' and 'accept me'...

Brum Mum Thu, Jan 5th 2017 @ 9:59pm

All I would say is that one appreciates those brief interludes when not depressed in a way most people take for granted. I am not grateful for depression but maybe I have more empathy as a result.

Molly Sat, Jan 7th 2017 @ 5:50am

Totally agree

Eva Sat, Jan 7th 2017 @ 9:22am

Hi jul, I feel very deeply generally and when depressed I feel so strongly it's as though I have no skin, and I feel a lot of physical pain so I don't particularly know the numbness that you speak of. My friend feels I am a highly sensitive person HSP. Through my experiences I have built a vast toolbox with tricks to keep my equilibrium in my daily life and to support me when times are hard. These I have learned through amazing friendships sharing experiences, ideas and learning, through Moodscope and with the support of some counselling. All of this I see as a positive as even without some down periods it's enriched my life so much. I love all that I have learned even though some of it has come through sad and bad times.

Jul Sun, Jan 8th 2017 @ 9:48am

Hello everyone. I am sorry I wasn't able to reply to all your comments on the day and thank you to Caroline for explaining why. Normally when I'm in France it's no problem but I was ill ill, very ill this time and the French house is so freezing, I couldn't bear to go into the computer room to open up my computer so was using my mobile for all things internet related, (sitting infront of the ancient log burner which kept spewing out cough invoking not the Hygge scene one might imagine) and didn't have my log in details with me. We are back home now and I've just had the chance to read it all again. This was a blog I wasn't sure about sending in to be honest. I don't know how the words came tumbling out since, real dark debilitating depression has little benefit and I regretted it in a way. However I just felt that having had it for so many years now, what a great waste of my life it would be if nothing good had come out of it. I was scraping the barrel.
Thank you very much to all who commented. I am grateful that you understood and got it. It's a blog I don't like to read again! The main benefit for me and I should have mentioned this but for some reason forgot, is you lovely lot and the support and kindness of you all. I would never have met you had I not been depressed and joined Moodscope. Julxx.

the room above the garage Sun, Jan 8th 2017 @ 2:44pm

It doesn't sound sincere to say I always enjoy your blogs Jul but I really do. Let them tumble out often. Always valuable to someone x.

Leah Sun, Jan 8th 2017 @ 9:33pm

Jul as you know I agree with Ratg that all your blogs are insightful and so honest.

Becky Sun, Jan 8th 2017 @ 9:36pm

As others have said, I think when we suffer or struggle it gives us the opportunity to have more empathy and act with more compassion. I also think there is value in knowing that we are vulnerable and have limitations, and that is part of how it is to be human. If we think we are invincible we can end up devaluing others and forgetting that we need each other. Depression reminds us that we need each other and also that we have something to give, because we understand from the inside what it's like for everything to not be ok. When we share this with each other it takes a whole lot of pressure off as we become living questions of the drive to have it all and be it all.

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