If depression and anxiety are gifts, they are the worst gifts ever

Image by Emma Darvick.

I have been reading a lot of things lately about anxiety and depression and how maybe they can be seen as a blessing in disguise or a gift, and, well, I have a reaction to that.


(Sorry, mom and dad. I feel very strongly about this one.)

If someone asks me whether my depression was a gift, I just sit back and wonder what I could have done with myself if I hadn't been smothered in darkness for most of my life.

Depression is a dark, horrible pit of emptiness and self-loathing. Anxiety is a swirling fire of never-ending, fear-driven questions. They both leave you feeling entirely cut off from the rest of the world. These are not blessings.

Just like overcoming any hardship, learning how to manage depression and anxiety might result in something positive: I may have more compassion and drive to follow dreams as a result of my efforts, but it could have just as easily gone the other way. Depression's expertise, after all, is selfishness, detachment, and meaninglessness, not compassion and dreamy hope.

Any blessings that can be attributed to depression or anxiety are just strengths people already had that emerged during the struggle. It's like the ending to The Wizard of Oz, where everyone learned that they had heart, brains, and courage all along. Sure, they discovered it thanks to this journey, but any number of circumstances could have brought them out.

Listen, I get it. It sucks to be depressed and it can feel good to reframe it as at least partially positive. That's fine if it helps you as an individual. Just be careful when you talk about it publicly - imagine being told that depression is a gift while you were living in the bottom of that pit. Would it give you hope? It sure didn't for me.

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