You probably don’t know this but May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It is supposed to be a time where we learn more about mental health issues and ways to support and respect those who have mental health problems. For many though, this has been a month highlighting the seeming lack of hope from many different sources.
I meant to write an article on the show “13 Reasons Why” to talk about mental health as we close out the month but I honestly couldn’t even finish the second episode. As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety, I thought it might be more helpful to focus on the good things in my life, and you should too! So in honor of all who struggle with mental illness but keep fighting, here are my 13 reasons why I choose to live a full life.
- Family – My family is dysfunctional but I still love them so much. They could take up the first three reasons and it would be completely true. Beautiful innocent nieces and nephews, moms and dads, husbands, the baby growing inside of me. Family, beautifully broken yet amazingly wonderful. Whether they are blood-related or not, our families are important to us.
- Friends – Often times my friends are the ones that have caused me the most pain but they are still one of my reasons because I cannot imagine life without them. We were made for relationships and my friends matter to me.
- Future – I have a future to look forwards to. Sometimes it’s hard to see that but when I look back and think about what I would have missed if I had killed myself when I first thought about it, or the second or third time, I would have missed so much! We have reasons to live, even if we can’t see them yet.
- Past – When I’m in dark seasons, I can look at my past and see that there were times when I was happy. That gives me hope that there is a very good chance that I will be happy again. I may not always be happy, but my past confirms that my future can be good.
- Faith – My trust in the faithfulness of my God helps me to move forward, even though our bond has been tested. It is that testing that we have made it through that makes me even stronger now.
- Tools – I have the financial, emotional and relational resources to work with a professional if I need to. Whether it’s meeting with my pastor, my mentor or my counselor, I can find the tools I need to cope and thrive.
- Purpose – Sometimes I don’t know exactly what my purpose is, but I choose to believe that there is a purpose for me, even if I don’t know it! I believe that someday my purpose might be to take someone out of the same dark pit of depression that I have been in. I have already done that and I know I will have another chance again.
- Service – When I am deeply depressed I can only think of myself. Which is often exactly why I need to serve others whether I’m feeling good or bad. That service gives me purpose.
- Community – I am not alone in what I have experienced. Through organizations like To Write Love On Her Arms, I have found out that there are many others who have had similar struggles and live abundant lives. It helps bring the shame that I’ve felt out of the darkness and made me feel normal. It has also given me hope that I can live an abundant life too!
- Fun – There are a lot of fun things I like to do. From singing to dancing in my living room, playing sports, hanging out with friends. There are times when I don’t get a lot of joy from those things because I can’t see past my own nose but it’s good to remind myself that I will find happiness in those things again someday.
- Hope – For a long time I believed the lie that hope was gone. Why is it that our emotions play that trick on us? The truth is that there is always hope. Our circumstances may not always change but our attitudes can. Let’s choose hope.
- Full life – I am a strong willed person, even in my depression sometimes but when I find myself sinking down, I remind myself that I have a full life (even if I don’t feel like I do) and I will have a full life (again, even if it doesn’t feel that way).
- Unique – This is another one I had a hard time believing but I am unique and I bring something to this world that it needs. I don’t necessarily know how or where I make an impact but I know that I do. You do too!
Now it’s time for your homework, make your own list! Get creative and think outside the box. Even if you don’t struggle with depression or anxiety, it’s a good activity. You don’t have to have 13, just start somewhere. Keep the list with you in your purse or wallet so you can remind yourself of the good things when life is hard. Even if your life isn’t perfect (no one’s ever is), there is always something to be thankful for and something to keep moving forward for. The truth that is sometimes hard to see is that there is always hope! Keep looking for it and you will find it.