Another Side of Mental Illness

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger


Photo by Wokandapax

Kallie Brown, A&E Editor

Hello. I’m Kallie, and I have been diagnosed with both anxiety and perfectionism. Yes, perfectionism is an actual illness that you could be diagnosed with and isn’t just a term for when you like to put items nicely in place.

There are an infinite number of ways I could complain about my mental illnesses– how, on some days, they become a vice that keeps me glued to one activity for fear of leaving it unfinished or less than flawless– but there are qualities that I would never have if I did not experience these setbacks.

For one, I turned to writing, so I could put words and emotions on a paper, then destroy and reanalyze what I was trying to say. It became a way for me to freely channel my hypercorrections, where I was the only person affected. I still edit almost everything I write until there are the fewest possible errors. It gets annoying, not being able to step back and let something be flawed, but I always end up with a product I’m proud of. My perfectionism and anxiety drove one of my favorite past times.

Perfectionism may seem like a pain that has obvious benefits. Depression, on the other hand, has an entirely negative connotation. The immediate response to someone revealing their illness is “I’m so sorry,” rather than “you’re so lucky.” Paul Andrews, an assistant professor of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University, published a study in the journal PLOS ONE talking about the unknown positives of depression. Among the most poignant were how those who have suffered depression “make better judgments on detail-oriented information” and “process information more deeply” than the average person. They can analyze a problem in unique ways, with better cost-to-benefit understanding, including emotional impact. Some of the best listeners I have ever met went through intense depression.

Clinton Thurgood, our school Psychologist, has seen almost every type of mental illness represented in our school. “[They are] resilient by the end. Then, as problems pop up later in life, they’re better able to handle it, opposed to someone who’s never had anything negative in their life.” Once you’re through, no matter which illness you may suffer, you’ve become stronger.

Mental illnesses aren’t to be taken lightly. While there are certain strengths that someone can gain, going through an illness is no walk in the park. They can seem impossible to overcome, despite what everyone says. It will pass, whether it takes months or years, and you will become a better person for it.