I’ve decided to break up my next couple posts into a few parts. I’m naming the series “Depression Detox” as detoxification is the process of removing toxic or harmful chemicals from a living organism. In this series, I will be looking at and focusing on the things that I (and others) can do to counter and/or remove depressed or low feelings that can have a toxic effect in ones soul.
I also need to say here: this is not, in ANY way a substitute for medication and therapy for those of us who struggle with clinical depression. In my own walk through depression, I have had to seek after MANY different supports, both medical and emotional, in order to even get to the place that I can now write about it. If you are struggling with depression, you are in my thoughts and prayers. Please seek out help. At the end of each article I will list some resources that can help you do that.
In my first post in this series ‘Depression Detox: Fear’ I discussed a bit of my history with depression and my strategies for letting go of fear, which tends to immobilize me (CLICK HERE to read Depression Detox: Fear). I have come to the realization that I don’t have the luxury or the desire to just wait around for it to go away, though I still hope, pray, and believe that it will subside. Inspite of my optimism, it has become apparent that while I am in the thick of my depression, I need to actively seek methods or tools that will add quality, love, and light to my life, REGARDLESS of my mood.
Today, I’d like to take a stroll down ‘Gratitude Lane’. Merriam-Websters online dictionary states that gratitude is ‘the state of being grateful’ and grateful means expressing ones thankfulness to someone. Google says it this way: readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Sounds warm and fuzzy, however, how can I find gratitude when everything around me can seem draped with grey and dripping with muddy blues?
Recently, I took an online art journaling course with best selling author and infamous TEDtalk deliverer, Brene Brown. There was a whole chapter on gratitude. She focused not so much on FEELING grateful, but on PRACTISING gratitude. Let’s face it – life is busy and made up of seemingly endless trips to dance class, soccer games, work, grocery shopping, and when not completely pressed for time, perhaps a trip to the gym or a quick jaunt around the park. If we aren’t purposeful in looking for the miracles, they will just pass us by. Trust me, I do it all day long.
What if I stopped and was thankful for the very things that distract me from being thankful? The small, ordinary things that I take for granted. Something like this:
My children woke up healthy (albeit too early) – miracle!
I woke up healthy (albeit tired) – miracle!
My husband has to go to work – miracle! He he has job he loves that provides food, shelter, and healthcare for us.
I have to clean my house – miracle! I actually have a house to clean.
I’ve got to pick my kids up from school – miracle! Their gorgeous little faces, wide smiles, and hugs are food for my soul.
As a family, we recently ventured down gratitude lane, hand in hand by putting creating a post-it note trail of thankfulness all over our fridge. It was surprising just how many things we could continue to add over the course of a week. Not only was this a lesson in thankfulness for ‘Mom’ but it became a family affair. Through practising gratitude we were actively seeking out the beautiful, ever present miracles in our lives that we all were taking for granted.
The gratitude that we actively practised had a profound effect on my attitude. When you struggle with a mood disorder, a huge component of that disorder is the inability to get oneself out of a negative spiral of doubts, fears, and anxiety. Though the desire to withdraw from the negative into the light is almost always present, the overwhelming tug of life’s difficulties, evolves into the viral grasp of despair. However, practising gratitude surprised me by not only fiercely challenging the barrage of negative thoughts, but deliberately brought what really matters to me back into focus.
I may not always FEEL the gratitude, but as I take a leap of faith, and practise thankfulness or gratitude, I am drawn to the beauty and intricacies of the life that is so tightly knit and woven around me; the beauty that I can choose to see.
I end with a verse from the bible (Phillipians 4:8-9) which succinctly states what has been my most recent experience with dwelling on the positive:
I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Becoming Ordinary: Day 227 CLICK HERE for more information on depression and getting help.