There have been and will continue to be times when depression will make it difficult for me to be grateful for anything. Some days I wonder why I even bother to get out of bed. As my husband can attest to, my depression can often make me crabby, irritable, stubborn, and angry. It is when I'm in this negative spiral that it's hard to see the good in anything. This past week has been emotionally draining. I've had this heaviness inside of me, weighing down my heart and I didn't know why. I felt this intense feeling of sorrow and had a strong urge to cry yet I couldn't shed a single tear. There wasn't any one reason in particular for feeling this way - sometimes there just isn't a reason... and I think that's what makes it harder to deal with. Other times there are a million little reasons swirling around in my head and that's difficult too. At the same time I know I have to do something to change the direction my mind is leading me...
It's in moments like these when I know I'm being tested. It's very easy to stay negative and to mope around the house feeling sorry for myself - and let me tell you, that urge can be very strong at times. However, I know that if I allow myself to go down that path it will only get worse. I know that no matter how hard it is, I have to change the direction of my thoughts if I want to get out of this funk. That's when I pulled out my "gratitude journal". I try to write in it every day - to write five things I am grateful for. I'm usually pretty good at staying on top of it, but not always. It's pretty easy to come up with five items when I'm in a good mood... however it's when I'm at a low point when it becomes a difficult task.
It takes a long time and a lot of thought in order for me to come up with at least a couple of things let alone five - but I don't ever give up - not until I reach my goal of five - no matter how long it takes. As frustrating as it can be, at the same time it is during my low points when my journal entries are the best ones I usually come up with. Why? Because when you're depressed it can force you to really look inside yourself and at the world around you. I'm a sensitive person as it is, but depression only amplifies it more. I used to hate wearing my heart on sleeve all the time - to let every little thing get to me, but I now know that my sensitivity is a gift - and one that I am truly grateful for. I don't want to be one of those people who go through life never thinking about others around them. I would much rather have a heart that feels deeply than one that is cold and numb to my surroundings and to what is happening to others in the world around me.
Growing up I would have never thought I would ever be grateful for having depression. I thought it was a curse and I absolutely hated it - who wouldn't? However, growing older I've learned a lot about myself and about my depression and I continue learning more and more every day. Our entire life is a journey in self-discovery. My depression has led me this far in life and has led me to wonderful people and places... therefore, as I see it, I haven't been led astray. I truly believe the universe has its plans for each and every one of us and that things are working out the way they should. Just knowing that gives me comfort.
Am I grateful for my depression? Definitely. I can't imagine where I would be in life right now if I didn't have this illness. It's a curse and a blessing - I don't know how else to describe it. I certainly don't want to make it sound like depression is like winning the lottery and that everyone would be lucky to live with it - but since I DO have to live with it I've decided to stop fighting it and learn from it instead.
So... what 5 things am I grateful for today?
1. My amazing husband who stands by me every single day (I honestly don't know how he puts up with me sometimes!)
2. My caring therapist who I met when I was just 17. She is my living angel on earth.
3. My family and friends - especially my adorable and oh-so-loving nieces and nephews!
4. My ability to have an open-mind on pretty much everything - especially since I was raised to be completely the opposite!
5. The connections I have made with others through blogging - and the support being shared!