Our own mood struggles can make us uniquely qualified to understand other people’s.

It’s probably fair to say that virtually everyone suffers from low mood.

For a fortunate few this may simply be the occasional bout of feeling a little less-good than normal.

For others, however, it can be more serious.

Low mood – and ultimately depression – is debilitating, destructive and downright dastardly, so it would be hard to believe that it has any upside whatsoever.

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A friend back in the UK keeps her mood issues pretty much to herself, but because we’re able to be honest with each other, she does open up to me.

Somewhat to my surprise, chatting to her one day did make me see one definite advantage I’ve chalked up from my own trips to the dark side.

‘Ah,’ she said.

‘But you UNDERSTAND.’

And with those three words she demonstrated the powerful idea that the bad times we go through make us better able to empathise with others.

They help us connect with the people around us who’ve also either gone through it, or who are going through it right now.

Empathy, of course, is inclined to be a two-way street.

I understand you, you understand me, we understand each other.

We’re told that to be upbeat we should surround ourselves with positive people, but isn’t this rather simplistic?

You see, I think those who understand you best are your fellow travellers.

4 thoughts on “Our own mood struggles can make us uniquely qualified to understand other people’s.

  1. Yes, but I think it is a fine balance. I think that awareness and understanding are strong and useful here. It would be easy perhaps to fall into the pit together?

  2. My favourite post so far! I’ve been one over to,years to keep my moods – as much as possible – to myself. The last few years and I think the approach of my 60 birthday have allowed me to be more,open with a select few fellow travellers. I have found that it is true for me that a trouble shared is a trouble lightened. I have always felt a deal of empathy for,those who live the ups and downs of a mood difficulty – this is the first time I have felt that empathy extended to me. I have found after an open conversation we both walk away lighter and most importantly feeling understood!
    Thanks so much for,theses thought provoking posts.

  3. My mum-in-law suffers from BPD with behavior and thinking that can be extremely challenging. Fortunately I have Bipolar II: my initial reactivity to her outrageous actions is soon tempered by my empathy. I understand mood swings, ranting, irrational thoughts…. My anger melts quickly and I’ve learned to become steady, to wait until the crisis passes. It has taken me years of therapy, reading, lectures – I’m taking a new class this week. My disorder is my window into her mind – I don’t hate her, I love her despite her toxic acts. I set boundaries to keep from being sucked into a bad place.

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