Philip over at Furious Seasons has a great interview with author Tom Wootton about his two books, The Depression Advantage (2007) and The Bipolar Advantage (2005). These are two self-help books that use “accelerated learning techniques [the author] developed as a corporate consultant to Fortune 500 companies” (according to the Amazon blurb). The Amazon reviews are worth the read, as some readers have some reservations about the author.

It’s an interesting interview and the author makes a very important point that we often see lost in the conversation about coping with long-term depression or bipolar disorder. You can learn important lessons from dealing with adversity, which includes any adversity in our lives. I’m not sure I buy into the idea that having a serious mental illness is the thing that people need in order to properly learn life’s lessons; I think there are many more positive ways to learn them. Surely you can learn lessons from depression, but you can also learn a lot of meaningless pain, because not every emotional disorder has an insightful point to it.

And while a person may take positive things away from very negative experiences, one has to be self-aware enough to do so at the time, and recognize the opportunity when it arises (which many of us have trouble doing).