Life can be suffocating. Sometimes it feels as if only the worst parts exist, with no room for the good. You can be left wondering if you’ll ever see the light of day, or forever be stuck beneath the dark, weighted clouds of sadness. Unfortunately, having a mental illness can make things even more intense.
But what if it’s possible to still find hope even during the crummy parts of life? What if you can find your silver linings?
Here’s how I found mine…
I have struggled with some form of mental illness since I was a child. First, it was anxiety, then depression, and now it’s a heavy combination of the two. Many times throughout my life I wasn’t certain I could or would make it through and often contemplated giving up. I struggled to find a single shred of hope. Life felt like it wasn’t meant for someone like me.
Silver linings were never really on my radar until I was a teenager. I came across the book The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick and the subsequent Oscar-winning film adaption during my senior year of high school. Since I had been struggling for most of my life, it was refreshing to find a story that reflected the part of my being that I had previously believed had to be hidden from others. From reading the book and watching the movie countless times, I found myself getting more comfortable with sharing my story and struggles outwardly with others. I was no longer ashamed. In fact, in some way, I saw it as a kind of superpower that I could use to do good. And it led me to discover silver linings.
If you go to the Merriam-Webster website and search “silver linings,” you’ll find this definition: a consoling or hopeful prospect.
A silver lining is something to look forward to and put your hope in. It’s the ray of light you search for in the midst of darkness. They say that every cloud has a silver lining, and I believe that to be true. Especially when it comes to the clouds in my own life.
Oftentimes with my anxiety and depression, I find it hard to identify any positives when going through a rough patch. As though when everything goes wrong, there’s no chance of anything going right. All the bad seems to push away the good, and I’m left with a sense of hopelessness. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be like this. In fact, with silver linings, that thought process can change entirely. One step at a time.
Even with mental illness, I can still find and celebrate the silver linings. There is good all around us. Times may be tough, and we don’t always see it at first glance, but there is life to be celebrated. There are sunrises and sunsets, new art waiting to be consumed, jokes to be laughed at, music to dance to—the list goes on. We all have something to look forward to and have hope in.
Sure, depression and anxiety—especially together—can make things challenging, but I can continue to seek out silver linings in the toughest of situations. Life isn’t easy, but there is so much good that I am and can be thankful for: Countless loved ones support me through my most dire moments; passions and hobbies remind me of things to look forward to; the natural world reminds me that I’m a small paint stroke in a much larger picture. I place my hope in these and more, and while it’s not an immediate or cure-all fix, it does put things in a new perspective.
Sometimes life threatens to crush us, but we don’t have to succumb to it. We all have a strength that is rooted in hope, in silver linings and possibilities. Take a moment to find yours.