Life can be suffocating. Sometimes it feels like only the worst parts exists, with no room for any of the good. You can be left wondering if you will ever see the positive light of day, or just be stuck with the impending dark clouds of sadness. And having a mental illness can make things even harder than they already were. 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 both. Many times throughout my life I was not sure how I would make it through and contemplated giving up. I just could not seem to find any shred of hope. Life felt like it was not meant for someone like me. All I could see were somber clouds with no light in sight. Little did I know that light was already there. In fact, it had never once left.
Silver linings were never really on my radar until I became 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 with mental illness for most of my life, it was nice and refreshing to find a story that reflected that part of my being that I had previously believed I had to keep hidden from others. From reading the book and watching the movie countless times, I found myself getting more comfortable sharing my story and struggles with others. I was no longer ashamed of my mental illness. 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 that ray of light that you can 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 find any positives when going through a rough situation. It feels like everything goes wrong and there’s no chance of anything going right. All the bad in my life seems to push the good away, 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 having anxiety and depression, I can still find and celebrate the silver linings that are in my life. There is good all around all of 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 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 hope in.
Mental illness can make things harder for me, but I still can find silver linings in my toughest situations. Life may not be as easy as I thought it would be, and that’s okay. I still have so much good in my life that I 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 all around 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 fix to my problems, it does put things in a new perspective.
Life can seem to suffocate us, but we no longer have to succumb to it. We all have a strength that is rooted in the hope for all the good in life. Silver linings are all around. Take a moment to find yours.
(Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger)