Monday, 4 March 2013

Fellow feeling

It's probably fair to say that virtually everyone suffers from low mood. For a fortunate few this may simply be the very 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.

A friend 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 recently 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 four 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? I think those who understand you best are your fellow travellers.