Ha -- knew that'd get your attention! Sorry to disappoint, but I actually don't love being depressed. Depression has been the story of my life for over 30 years, and it's been a tiring journey of pain, fear, loss, sadness, and rejection. I'll tell you something positive about my depression though -- it's forced me to become grateful...yes, grateful. Why would I ever be grateful for this ugly black dog? https://youtu.be/XiCrniLQGYc
I'll tell you why -- back in 2015 B.L. (Before Lexapro), a dear friend of mine told me to start a gratitude practice. He's the epitome of positivity and the perfect foil to my melancholy tendencies. I fought his suggestion for months, thinking it was a bunch of New Age hokey-pokie. Then on May 20, 2015, I cracked open my pink journal with its cover that says, "Keep Calm and Have a Cupcake." I wrote my first gratitude: "Friends to help me through my fucked up family." Okay, so it wasn't profound. But my last gratitude -- I wrote down four of them -- was. My fourth gratitude made me teary-eyed: "Elinor's death, forcing me to stop running from responsibility and take care of self, for first time ever." Elinor was my beloved aunt who served as a surrogate parent to me and my two younger sisters. She passed away from cancer back in 2010. Elinor was generous -- perhaps to a fault -- supporting me and my sisters here and there when we were old enough to take care of ourselves. (I'm still experiencing shame for admitting this.)
Fast-forward to today. I just re-read my first gratitude from yesterday: "I am rich. I am wealthy." What exactly does that mean? Well, after two and a half years of hard labor, I started my own business. I pay my own bills with my own money and it feels good. I am rich with love from friends and I don't doubt my contribution to society. I've realized that my depression forced me to hit rock bottom and taught me how to take care of myself -- physically and emotionally.
Depression affects each of us differently. For me, I can say that much of it was situational and a response to my upbringing. Now that I've dealt with some of the baggage from my past, I can honestly say that if I hadn't gone through that soul-crushing depression, I'd be couch-surfing and living off food stamps.
And it all started with a gratitude journal.