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Lessons Learnt from Adversity by Maddison Wittmann

The first twenty years of my life have been filled with a decent serving of both highs and lows.

I live in one of the wealthiest countries of the world, I’ve always had access to clean water and fresh food, I’ve been fortunate enough to have access to an education, the right to work and earn a living, world class medical facilities at my fingertips and not to mention the other luxuries such as iPhones, holidays, and spa treatments.

On the flipside, I’ve endured medical conditions, bullying, loss of friendships and loneliness, a suicide attempt, grief and major life changes.

And I wouldn’t change any of it.


Because these experiences have had more of an impact on my development and growth as a person than any of the ‘luxuries’ most people strive to obtain. If it wasn’t for the adversity I’ve faced, I wouldn’t be half the person I am today, with the wisdom, knowledge and passion I’ve acquired from these experiences.

“Nothing ever stays the same, things will get better”

Whenever I was going through a particularly hard time, my Mum would always tell me, everything will be okay, things will get better. At the time, I couldn’t believe her, but after each and every difficult time, things got better. Every. Single. Time.

Yes, some times took longer than others, and things didn’t always pan out the way I expected, but things never stayed the same.

“If you want things to change, you have to be willing to make the changes”

I have suffered from depression and anxiety since my early teenage years, and in the beginning, I refused professional help. I just wanted to feel better without having to put in the work. However, I quickly learnt that if I wasn’t willing to seek support and put in the effort and perseverance needed, things would never change.

This lesson took a while to sink in, I know now, if I’m not happy and I want things to change, I have to take action.

So next time, you find yourself saying ‘I don’t like this... I wish I didn’t do this’, make a plan and change it.

“The power of the human mind is stronger than you can imagine”

Most people who have suffered from a mental illness, will know the mind can be extremely powerful, for better and for worse.

I went through a period where my thoughts were so powerful that I was having frequent panic attacks. There I was, breathless, sweating and crying, all because I had catastrophised a minor road block, into a ‘my life is over’ situation.

It wasn’t until I had a reasonably good week and out of nowhere, I became panicked that I realised that distress and discomfort was temporary. So, I went through the motions and after I had calmed, I had this moment of realisation, that I was okay, my life wasn’t ending, I would get over this.

“This too shall pass”

And once I realised this, I understood the power of the human mind, the incredibly strong, controlling power of the human mind.

So next time you’re down in the dumps, feeling as though there is no other possibility, ask yourself, are there other ways to look at this? Or am I too caught up with emotion at the moment to make an accurate judgement?

“The right support is essential”

I have been blessed with some extremely caring friends and family, and whilst they have offered me their unconditional love and support, I unfortunately took advantage of that in certain situations.

I denied that I was really unwell, I thought I was just doing what all friends do, you talk to each other about the highs and lows of life.

But after a falling out with a close friend, I realised, I had been relying on her support far too much. It was then that I started to see my psychologist again regularly, getting the right support I needed.

Yes, it’s perfectly normal to discuss problems with your friends and family, but not at the expense of the relationship.

Whatever you’re going through at the moment, an illness, an addiction, or the loss of a loved one, keep those close to you updated, but make sure you’re seeking the right support for you.

“Self-love and compassion is of the utmost importance”

I only recently discovered the importance of self-love and compassion, I had low self-esteem, I was stuck in cycle of depression and anxiety, and I couldn’t work out where I was going wrong.

My psychologist then pointed out to me, the idea of self-compassion. When I became aware of how I was speaking to myself on a daily basis, it was no wonder I was stuck.

Every now and then, try and check in with your internal voice, would you speak that way to a close friend or family member? And what are you doing for you, that you enjoy and makes you feel good?

“It’s about the journey, not the destination”

As cliché as it sounds, it couldn’t be more accurate, and it’s still something I have to remind myself.

I was constantly telling myself, ‘When I get this sorted I’ll feel good again... Once this happens I’ll be right.’ I was constantly striving to attain the destination, leaving me in a cycle of constant anxiety. But I’ve now learnt, there is always going to be something, something to learn, something to do.

A couple of key practices that have bettered me in living in the now are meditation and gratitude practices.

Meditation is an excellent tool to help clear the mind, and focus on the present, and today it is more accessible than ever, there are countless apps – Smiling Mind, Calm, 1 Giant Mind just to name a few, and then there’s an abundance of meditation classes.

Showing gratitude can be as simple as reflecting at the end of the day on a couple of things you’re grateful for. For me, I use a journal to clear my thoughts and show gratitude. You can read more about that in my Coping Toolkit article The Practice of Gratitude.

If you’ve never done either, give them a go and see how you feel afterwards.

While a lot of these lessons may seem like common sense, I believe it’s not until faced with adversity that you truly understand the meaning of each of these. At one point or another, we will all face adversity, some of us more than others.

So, if you or someone you know is going through a difficult time, remember, from adversity, can come growth.


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  • Comment Link Karen Dalton %PM, %21 %442 %2018 %19:%Apr posted by Karen Dalton

    Well written Maddi. Love and support always. Karen x

  • Comment Link Lisa Radcliffe %PM, %21 %283 %2018 %15:%Apr posted by Lisa Radcliffe

    Very insightful for someone still so young. Great read Maddi. Keep doing this! I would love to read more.

  • Comment Link Jodie %PM, %21 %155 %2018 %12:%Apr posted by Jodie

    Thankyou Maddi xxx

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