Being grateful for mental illness?

I’ve read and heard people talk about being grateful for all things in life. The things I’ve read and heard about being grateful refer to the power of positive thinking improving a person’s mood, perspective, and life in general. What about mental illness, though? Am I supposed to be grateful for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Major Depression, and Anxiety? Am I supposed to be happy about the circumstances and situations that led to me being mentally ill? Have any of these “happier” people thought about those of us who have a disease of thought and mind? Do they think about the pain, the limitations, or the stigma that comes with being mentally ill? I highly doubt it. Now, before you stop reading thinking that I’m angry about this, let me tell you that I’m not. I’m not angry. Well, not at people who don’t understand. Why? Because they can’t. They can’t fully appreciate the gravity of mental illness if they have not been mentally ill themselves. It is truly something you must experience in your own mind and body to understand and properly appreciate. Now, as far as being “happy” with a mental illness always running in the background, there are ways to manage mental illness. They aren’t perfect, and some of the treatments cause their own problems and side effects that are unpleasant and difficult to overcome. Grateful is a tricky word. I’m not sure I’m grateful for the mental illness itself, but I can say that I’m grateful for the wisdom and knowledge it has brought me. Those have been hard-earned, by the way. None of it comes easy with any illness, physical or mental. I try to think of my mental illness in terms of the medical model, just like people who have multiple sclerosis or coronary heart disease think of their illnesses. My disease just happens to be in my brain and the way I think. Medically speaking, it can be explained in terms of biochemistry, anatomy, and physiology. It’s a pathology. A disease. That’s part of the knowledge and the wisdom that must be gained in order to deal with it. That is, perhaps, the first step.

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