Mental Health Challenges as Superpowers

Mental Health Challenges as Superpowers

When we’re “in it,” it’s often difficult to see the forest for the trees; the ability to zoom outside of the moment and view life from “the bigger picture.” And you know what? These kinds of metaphors are so deeply trite that you might be tempted to close out of this article right away, but I beg you to give me a chance today. I have an idea for you that you might not have considered before.

As someone who has experienced a substantial “drinking problem” in my past, and still experiences ongoing mental health challenges, I openly cursed the hand I had been dealt. Why me? Why can’t I just have a normal life? Why does my brain work this way? Why do these things have to be my things??

I don’t discount those feelings, if you find yourself there today. It’s immensely frustrating, disheartening, and confusing to feel like you have a harder road ahead than most. All feelings are valid, no feelings are right or wrong, and bypassing those feelings does little to attend to them. (And to be clear, there are incredibly challenging barriers that many people face, systemically, personally, interpersonally, and environmentally.)

But today, let’s consider an alternate way of thinking about mental health challenges. What if the challenges you experience are really your superpowers?

In 2017, I was mad at the world. I couldn’t drink like “everybody else,” I was mired in postpartum depression and anxiety that was not the least bit managed, and on top of it, I got puked on by a toddler at least once a week. (Rude, honestly.) It took several years for me to make my way out of the forest; lots of doctors appointments, Zoom therapy, and white knuckling my way into an alcohol-free life. (Reframe didn’t exist at the time, of course!) It was deeply painful, and I lived life as a raw nerve for some time.

And four years later, though much better managed, I still walk through life a few serotonin bloops short. I still feel like a raw nerve from time to time, and panic attacks are not beyond me. (Thankfully, the “not drinking” part comes easily these days.)