Develop Ways To Feel Thankful with Depression
It seems kind of a stretch to think about the things that you are thankful for when you are suffering with a mood disorder like depression. Depression has a way of clouding over the bluest of skies until you are perpetually stuck under your own rain cloud like that Schleprock dude from the Flintstones. It is easy to get caught in a rut of focusing primarily on all that is wrong in life and either dismissing or ignoring the good stuff. And there is good stuff. You just might not be able to see it right now.
And don’t worry. This won’t be one of those drippy Thanksgiving posts where I get you into an emotional headlock and force gratitude out of you. I will not be one of those people telling you how you “should” be thankful because someone out there in the world has it worse. Such comparisons only make me mad and more depressed. Pain competitions of who has it worst only deepen the depressive notion that the world sucks and misery is rampant. In my opinion it is far more healing to arrive at thankfulness honestly and naturally.
When I was a guest on the Doctor Oz show to discuss my experience in battling depression, I was asked a question which took me aback. I was asked about whether I felt there were any silver linings to having depression. Ah, the good old silver lining question. I am sure that everyone who faces any type of life challenge may be asked at some point, were there any silver linings to the experience? One’s first reaction might be, “Are you kidding? This has been hell. I wouldn’t wish depression on my worst enemy.” But then if you dig deeper you may find there is more there than pure misery because there is more to you and to life than your depression. This “more” is what can pull you through.
Silver Linings, things to be thankful for despite my depression (a short list):
• Developing more meaningful relationships
I feel that my depression has caused me to seek out more meaningful relationships with others. This may mean that I have fewer acquaintance friends and engage in less small chit chat about lawn furniture or the latest reality TV show, but I tend to think of this as a good thing. And likewise having depression has a way of weeding out the people who are not truly there for you. It is true what they say about finding out who your true friends are when you are battling something like depression. Don’t know about you but I would rather have a few close loyal friends than win a popularity contest with people who won’t stick around at the slightest bit of turbulence.
• A greater empathy for others
Sometimes depression can make you feel more sensitive to the world. Sometimes I feel like a raw nerve exposed and wired to receive pain. But the other side of this is that you may also develop a greater sense of empathy for the suffering of others. You know what it feels like and can recognize depression in others. This empathy and compassion can provide the motivation to give back and provide support to people in need.
• An appreciation for humor
My depression has honed my humor to a finely chiseled tool to use when dealing with life’s challenges. Is it any wonder that so many of the world’s comedians are actually battling a mood disorder? Learning how to laugh despite life's difficulties can be very therapeutic.
• The ability to feel and appreciate joy
The antithesis to a sinking depression is joy. Yet how do we arrive at joy if there is nothing to compare it to? For those of us who are able to feel the depths of emotion, depression is but one emotion. There are so many more feelings to explore, each with their own subtle nuances. My depression has made me thankful for those times when I can feel good. The backdrop of depression gives those glimpses into happiness more meaning because I know how hard it is to get there.
• A greater appreciation for small successes
When you suffer from depression you may have difficulty doing the day to day things like getting out of bed, completing chores, or even having a conversation with someone. But when you do achieve some small goal even taking a shower or shopping for groceries, it means so much more. You begin to really appreciate the little things, the small steps towards functioning and recovery.
• Meeting people you never would have otherwise
It goes without saying that if I had never experienced depression, I would not be writing here. And I would not have met all you wonderful people. I can honestly say that I get so much more back than I give on this site. Your strength, your courage, and your resilience in coping with your life circumstances is the inspiration that keeps me going on a lot of days.
• You may discover talents and passions
People cope with their depression in different ways. One of my primary coping mechanisms has been to write about my experience. Some of my best writing is born out of the struggle to find my way through my depression and reach the other side. Through writing I have found my voice and a way to change the world, however small in scope. It is also a way for me to connect to others who are going through the same thing. I am thankful to be given this outlet
Now it is your turn. What are you thankful for despite your depression? Would you care to share your list with us? Do you feel that there are any silver linings to having this experience of battling depression? Talk to us. We are listening.