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A Painful Appreciation

a painful appreciationGive thanks for the soul-crushing anxiety. Say amen when the sinking depression floors you. Raise your glass for repetitive negative thoughts.

“What?” you screech. “My mind teases me, toying with my emotions for sheer pleasure. And you — you of all people — are saluting my mental brain tricks. Are you happy when my mind twists me into a human pretzel?”

Hardly. I do not take perverse pleasure in another person’s suffering. But as your taunting mind ridicules you, let’s express gratitude. Before spewing invective in a berating email, hear me out.

We are the chosen people — chosen to tackle an enigmatic, devilish disorder. We can speak eloquently about mental health’s dysfunction. We understand frayed family relationships, unfulfilled potential, simmering bitterness.

But what about mental health’s positive impact? Mental health gusts may topple you. But withstanding its hurricane-like force, you press forward. You are battered and bruised, sure. But you are better, too. Let’s explore.

Mental health instills a sense of purpose. So many of us shuffle to work each day, striving for a meaningful existence. We obsess over the latest TV show, trendiest brands, and Kim Kardashian’s love interests. We express indignation (how dare he pick her?!) about The Bachelorette finale. But amidst Kim’s vacuous tweets and disputed Bachelorette finales, we crave a deeper purpose.

As mental health advocates, we have an intrinsic motivator more powerful than any catchphrase. Our mental health trials have scarred us. But they have empowered us, too. Chasing stability, not six figures, we covet more than the latest designer suit and Game of Thrones season.

As unsuspecting mental health issues ambushed this self-conscious teenager, I vowed to embolden others. I pinch myself at my serendipity. Here I have a public platform to demystify mental illness. Poignantly speaking about personal struggles, I braced myself for withering comments. Instead, strangers email me, entrusting me with their fears, anxieties, and uncertainties. I am humbled — both from personal tribulations and readers enlisting me (me??) for wisdom.

Mental health instills a sense of compassion. We have a deeper awareness of human suffering through our own lived experience. Our relatability forges powerful connections. Family and friends share vulnerabilities, appreciating your openness when discussing personal frailties. Your experience, and resulting humility, transcends communication barriers. You savor the richer life, one filled with the world’s most powerful denomination: shared experience.

Damn you, depression! Shut up, schizophrenia! Take that, tremors! When mental health issues floor us, we beseech a higher power for relief. Crumpled in my bed, intrusive thoughts pinballing through my head, it is tempting to cry out, “Why?” But as I have aged, the why question has evolved into something more profound. “Why — like so many others — can’t I use my mental fortitude to benefit others?” That toast in the opening paragraph? It is to our collective strength.

Dean Drobot/Bigstock

A Painful Appreciation


Matthew Loeb

Matthew Loeb, a Seattle-based attorney, is a mental health advocate. You can contact him at [email protected]


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APA Reference
Loeb, M. (2018). A Painful Appreciation. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 24, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/a-painful-appreciation/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.