I get hit HARD with depression every single year & it lasts through much of the fall & winter. My husband has started calling it my “funk” & I think it's quite funny – sad that I know it's coming or has arrived, yet can't seem to do much about it; but funny, nonetheless, that we can at least joke about it.
I have a hard time REALLY enjoying things. . . My usual introverted, homebody nature is magnified AT LEAST times ten & I call & go see friends & family even less than usual. . . I go to bed really early, sleep for what seems like FOREVER & still wake up feeling tired & unmotivated. I cry at the drop of a hat — many times over something that I really only find MILDLY irritating. Honestly, I am SO aware of this in myself that it is downright EMBARRASSING that, at nearly 32-years-old, I still cannot control my emotions. On the flip side, I know it is a legitimate ailment & that I have nothing to be ashamed of, as long as I am not letting it completely consume me.
Coping with this over the years has ranged from simply succumbing & letting “nature take its course,” to prescription anti-depressants, to working myself ragged so I do not have time to dwell on it. The last few years, it has simply been education — not necessarily about depression in general, but about paying attention to my own tendencies & triggers. My husband is SUPER supportive. Don't get me wrong; he gets extremely frustrated, especially when he doesn't know what to do to make me feel better. BUT, he also is unbelievably patient. I recently have taken to baking to ease my brain a bit. I didn't realize until a few weeks into this newfound interest that it was developing as a result of my depression & needing something constructive to focus on to get through. . . BUT, I have decided it is a healthy outlet, for the most part.
At any rate, I share this because there is a trend on social media of sharing something new you are thankful for each day of November to celebrate Thanksgiving. Some people find it irritating that their news feed is taken over with these daily “thankful” posts & I admit I have been one of them. However, I am realizing that this, too, may be a good way to focus on the positive — at least this month — rather than letting my brain succumb to the gloom that inevitably takes over this time of year.
SO, in no particular order, this being the ninth day of November, here are nine things I am thankful for this year:
- My seasonal depression. Yep. I know it sounds crazy — & maybe it is & that's okay. My seasonal depression is part of being ALIVE. Being overly emotional is better than not having the opportunity to feel that emotion. The sad times help me appreciate the happy times so much more. It may not be my favorite part of life, but, dammit, it is a sign that I am alive & I have choices & possibilities ahead of me. It is PART of what makes me so intensely aware of my feelings & those of the people around me.
- My sons. Not JUST for the typical reasons that most moms would cite: they changed my life; they are my world; etc. Gag me now. They are all truthful reasons, of course. But, realistically, for me, my sons are a reminder that God has a plan, even if we don't know what it is. . . I have learned SO MUCH from my sons in their short time on this Earth, it's downright scary. I have learned to humble myself, to admit when I don't have the answers, to get it right in MY mind that what society says is a perfect little family is not always what REALLY makes up a good family (or a good mom, for that matter). I could write a ton on this topic & maybe I will one day; today is not that day. . .
- My husband. He is my best friend. He is my voice of reason & my biggest supporter, in so many different ways. He is yet another reminder that God has a plan that I just am not privy to. . . He fits with me so well & I love him so much that it is downright scary. What's more is that I can tell he loves me just as much & THAT'S even scarier. But, I also realize that not everyone gets to meet, much less marry someone who is so perfectly made for them. It does not miss me that I am one of the lucky ones & for that, I am truly grateful.
- My mother & grandmother. My mom may have passed away nearly 15 years ago & my grandmother (my mom's mom) may live just far enough away that I don't see her as much as I would like or probably should. . . BUT, these two women are SO much a part of ME that it demands acknowledgement. People say they dread the day they turn into their mother; I do not. My mom was a STRONG woman. FULL of life & love. I can clearly see she got much of that from HER mom. And my grandmother has been my ROCK since even before my mother passed away — when I couldn't talk to mom as a teenager, it was grandma that I called up. I knew FULL WELL that whatever I divulged to grandma would EVENTUALLY make its way to mom — they were best friends, afterall — but, that made no difference to me. Simply put, I am grateful of where I come from & I am even more grateful that — even though I feel I got robbed out of experiencing it with MY mother — I got to see how my mother could be such GREAT FRIENDS with her mother & that this kind of friendship IS possible, because you just don't get to see that as much as we should in this world. . .
- TRUE friendship. I am grateful that my life has had just enough adversity to help me learn to discern my acquaintances from my true, life-long friends. In particular, I have my sister & two other women that I consider to be sisters. There are a select few others that are close friends (one of which graciously understood when I cancelled our afternoon plans within an hour of when I was to arrive today), but these three women are the ones I can go to at ANY point in my life & I have NO doubts they will be there for me. The reverse is also true. My sister & I are opposites in nearly every way & I firmly believe God knew what he was doing there! We are BOTH much more tolerant people as a result. One of the other women has been my best friend since we were 12-years-old. Her husband is like my big brother, her children like my niece & nephew, her family is my family. Our lives have paralleled each other in strange ways over the years & I would be a completely different person had she not been by my side during some of those times. . . The third has been one of my best friends for the past several years, but before that, our paths crossed — or nearly crossed — an uncanny amount of times before we finally became close. There's God's plan again. . .
- Technology, particularly the Internet. As silly as it sounds, it is true. I keep in touch with most of my distant family & friends through FaceBook. I get most of my recipes for my experimental baking & cooking from Google. I spend my “downtime” watching television shows (& this turns off my overactive brain in all the right ways). I could go on, but I think you get my point.
- Washington State. I know there are other great places to call home. And I know that Washington has its own problems. . . BUT, this state is absolutely beautiful in several ways & I am glad I get to call it home.
- Everyone who has ever done me wrong. Yep. You read that right. Whether it be certain exes, friends that weren't really friends, family that didn't act much like family, or complete strangers, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to learn what I do not ever want to be like — to learn what it feels like to be wronged so that maybe I won't do those things to others. I am grateful for those people because without them & the things they put me through, I would not be nearly as strong as I am today — & at certain times in my life, it was that strength that got me through.
- “Mental health days.” Yep. Today is the first of ten days off from work. I am grateful for these days to “get my mind right,” as I like to put it. I am grateful that my husband is such a hard worker & SO supportive to not bat a single eyelash at the prospect of me taking some time for me. I am grateful that, even though we have a long way to go to be where we want to be financially that we do not have to want for any true necessity. (Been there; done that — & I am grateful I am not there currently.)
At any rate, perhaps I will round this list off to make it the true 30 days of thanksgiving. Or maybe I will leave it at this. Either way, it has been a good exercise for me. . . I highly suggest it to others — especially if they find themselves in a “funk” such as mine. . .