Why My Mental Illnesses are Really a Blessing In Disguise

This is a guest post by wellness mentor, Kendra Kantor. If you’d like to write a guest post for The Pillow Fort, you can find more details here.

When I was 13, I was diagnosed with clinical depression. That means I have chemicals in my body that don’t want to work right and they cause depression. At the time, I remember telling my new therapist that I had been depressed as long as I could remember, even when I was young. At 13, I started my long journey to healing and I’m still not there. In 2013, I was diagnosed with a panic disorder (without agoraphobia). My day to day life is covered in fear and panic and sadness and longing to feel whole and healthy and happy.

KendraKantor3But for so many reasons, I am happy and feel blessed to have these mental illnesses. As much as I want them gone from my day to day life, I also know I would never wish them away completely. I would never wish for my life to be 100% different, for my past to be changed because my mental illnesses have shaped me, they help me and despite the pain I am grateful.

I’m not going to lie and say that having a mental illness is awesome. Because it’s not, it sucks. It fucking sucks so bad. Most days, I wish for nothing more than to be happy and ‘normal’. But that’s a long road to get there and my mental illnesses will never go away.

However, when I take the time to think about the positive things my anxiety and depression have brought to my life, I am happy to have these experiences. My mental illnesses, more than anything in my life, have changed the way I think and view the world. There isn’t much that happens that my anxiety or depression isn’t wrapped up in the experience or event anymore and that’s okay.

My husband and I met online almost 10 years ago now. This was around the time I was first diagnosed with depression. I think he helped push me to talk to my mom and get help. My husband also suffers from depression and anxiety. We connected on a level I don’t think many do because we understood each other. We understood the pain we were both experiencing and over the years, we’ve been our biggest supporters, our loudest cheerleaders and constant best friends.

I can ramble about the pain I’m experiencing and the panic I’m feeling and my husband is there, and he gets it. He knows what I’m going through. We would never be as close as we have become over the years if we didn’t share the experiences of having a mental illness and for that I am grateful.

My son turns 2 this April and I can’t believe how fast time has gone. It’s been one of the hardest things to go through to be a mama and have a mental illness. But also one of the best. Because of my anxiety and depression, I’m not always as present as I want to be for my son. But when I am feeling healthy, when I am not on a downward spiral, I am so much more acutely aware of everything and how awesome it is to raise a child and be a mother.

My anxiety and depression have become my blessing in disguise because when I am present and aware, I play or watch my son and I am in so much awe of him. I pay more attention to all of his new habits, his burgeoning opinions, the new things he’s learning and experiencing. I know I would never be as excited or as keenly aware of everything if I didn’t suffer mental health problems and for that, I am grateful.

KendraKantor4In high school, I was so so sure I wanted to be a photographer. I longed for it and dreamed about it. I moved 1000 miles from home to attend art school. And being away from my support system, in strange city all alone and then being told my work was “boring” by my professors, my depression was at an all time high and I dropped out. It’s taken me almost 4 years since then to come to grips with the situation. After I dropped out I was so lost because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Now? I know. I want to help creative women who are looking to embrace their self discovery and improve their mental health wellness.

I want to be an advocate and a friend. I want to be a resource and a guide. I want to make a difference, if only for a handful of women and teens. I want to share my story and my experiences. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today if it wasn’t for my mental illnesses. I wouldn’t be lucky enough to know what I want to do with my life and be working on working for myself if I didn’t have depression and anxiety and for that, I am grateful.

There are days (many of them still), when all of this seems pointless and I can’t believe that I sometimes feel grateful for what I’m going through. There are times when the pain in my gut or the lethargy I feel is so debilitating that absolutely nothing else matters. But ya know what? Those times are getting fewer and farther between, they are getting less severe and easier to recover from. Recovery and wellness is a long long road and I don’t believe I can ever be 100% cured from my mental illnesses, but I know some day I will be more happy than not. And when that happens, I know I will remember that all of the pain I’ve gone through had a purpose and for that I am grateful.

For what reasons are you grateful for the pain and negative experiences you’ve had? 

Contributor BioKendra Kantor

Kendra Kantor is a Wellness Mentor and Guide for creative women who are looking to embrace their self discovery and improve their mental health wellness.

Through her completely honest blog posts, awesome freebies and one-on-one mentoring, she’s here to help you figure out who you really want to be- while making it all feel you’re just chatting to your bff!

When she’s not helping you improve your life and wellness, you can find her indulging in her guilty pleasure reads (romances or zombie novels), stealing as many cuddles as possible from her toddler and bribing her husband to go get ice cream (it’s really not that hard!).

Connect at her blog, find awesome freebies and more at her website  sneak peaks into her life and behind the scenes at twitter.