By Madison Sonnier
It may be safe to assume that my yearlong struggles with OCD and depression are ultimately what turned me into a writer. I had so many thoughts and feelings that felt unacceptable and difficult to make sense of. When there was no one I could talk to, I talked to my journal and my blog, Journey of a Soul Searcher. Pen and paper were my best friends. I met kindred spirits dealing with the same struggles I was. And after a significant period of healing and growth, I felt ready to share my story and shed some light on my darkness. I’ve been writing both personally and professionally ever since – putting myself out there and being candid about the very things most people feel afraid to talk about.
Suddenly, my struggles with mental illness made sense. I didn’t feel so worthless anymore. My pain granted me a sense of purpose and a deep-rooted need to be a voice for people who couldn’t find their own.
Here are 10 ways my struggles with OCD and depression changed my life (including 5 reasons you should buy the eBook I wrote about it):
1. I was reduced to a shell of a human.
My mental and emotional challenges broke me down and reduced me to a shell of who I wanted to be. During these times, I felt weak, powerless and unlovable before later realizing that being at the bottom only leaves you with one way out. I rebuilt myself slowly and asymmetrically, but my pain ultimately made me stronger. We never realize it in the moment, but darkness is a direct path to light.
2. I was given a radical opportunity to reinvent myself.
It wasn’t until I finally started to heal from my depression that I began to discover who I was and what I really wanted. And while that journey is ongoing, so many seeds have been planted. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for the growing pains that brought me this far.
3. I became more informed about mental illness.
I’ve learned so much about OCD, depression, and mental illness in general over the past few years. I’ve read about symptoms, recovery options, societal stigmas, and everything in between. I’ve developed a passion for informing others and advocating honest dialogue about issues we all struggle with. The fight against mental illness stigmas and the search for help for all who suffer is ongoing, but I’m so pleased to be a part of that journey.
4. My sense of compassion and understanding expanded.
My pain has made me a more open and compassionate person at best. So many people suffer in silence. So many people feel hopeless and confused. So many people need a person they can talk to. Knowing this opens my heart in ways I never thought possible.
5. I rarely judge.
I feel that I was judged a lot during my battles with OCD and depression, which caused me a lot of pain and anxiety. The slightest offhand comment was enough to derail me. Although I’ve since thickened my skin, I try my best to monitor what I say to others. I believe that we’re all on our own journey – learning and doing things in whatever way and at whatever pace feels right. I’m more open-minded and try to focus on my own life instead of other people’s.
6. I became a writer.
Writing was usually my only escape from the thoughts that attacked my mind. Writing gave me an outlet, healed me, and gave me a sense of purpose where I wouldn’t have otherwise found it.
7. I found a sense of purpose through helping and befriending others.
One of my absolute favorite quotes is, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded” by Ralph Waldo Emerson. When I started my blog and began submitting guest posts to inspirational websites, I received a pretty large volume of messages from people who felt inspired and less alone. And for the first time in a long time, I felt like I mattered.
8. I achieved success far beyond what I ever envisioned for myself.
I can Google myself (not that I have…). I’ve been published on multiple occasions. I have a decent following. I’ve written things that have gone viral. All of this happened because I put myself out there in hopes that my experiences could help other people. I never imagined I would achieve a level of success worth mentioning, and it taught me that we shine at our most authentic.
9. I grew stronger.
I’m a stronger person for what I have gone through. I still experience more than my fair share of pain and weakness, but my coping skills are better than they’ve been in quite some time.
10. I have something worth talking about.
Before my struggle with depression and the subsequent birth of my writing career, I talked about and focused on all the wrong things. I’ve since learned that pain makes joy invaluable, and loss makes gain extraordinary. I’ve written openly about my struggles and reached thousands of people in the process. I’ve started conversations, broken barriers, and opened hearts. I hope to do it for the rest of my life.
As previously mentioned, I wrote a little eBook that can generally be read in one good sitting. If you feel inspired by the words written above, I think you’ll find it to be a worthy and rewarding keepsake. But if you’re not convinced, here are 5 reasons to consider it:
1. It provides a firsthand, real life account of life with OCD and depression.
2. It’s one of the most honest and vulnerable things I’ve ever written.
3. It offers hope and inspiration to those facing similar challenges.
4. It’s short, sweet, and to the point.
5. The ending is jam-packed with wisdom that has gone viral.
If you’re interested, you can purchase my eBook on Amazon here!
Thank you for reading, and I hope you remember that your journey is never over and your struggles do not define you.