Depression is a lot of things: a chemical imbalance, a neurotransmitter malfunction or “a cluster of emotional, physical and behavioral symptoms characterized by sadness, low self esteem, loss of pleasure, and, sometimes, difficulty functioning.” I have even heard depression defined as the denial of God – which is absolutely ludicrous and, simply put, stupid.
If I had to describe what the bottom of my depression feels like, I would say it feels like being trapped in an existence without gratitude. My soul is paralyzed, wanting and knowing that I should be at least grateful for my next breath and heartbeat but unable to muster or even fake that desire. The basic, most primitive instinct of all living organisms – to live – is gone.
Without the ability to feel gratitude, my life – every blink of an eye or growl of my stomach – means nothing. There is no value in living. Hopelessness, despondency, misery and every other depressing adjective in the dictionary surrounds us. There is no where to turn. We are no good to ourselves. We are no good to you.
But we are not ingrates. To be an ingrate you have to be unappreciative and indifferent to what you have been given. That is not us. We desperately want to be appreciative. We really want your hugs, concern, phone calls and prayers to instill in us genuine, life-sustaining gratitude. We hate ourselves for our inability to feel gratitude for all you have given us. It is not your fault. It is no one’s fault. It is depression.
But today my depression is gone. Over. Sayonara. Today – on Thanksgiving Eve – I am going to swaddle myself in gratitude. I am going to write it down. I am going to feel, smell, taste, touch and hear every molecule of gratitude in my life. I am going to do this today so that tomorrow – Thanksgiving – I can wake up in the afterglow of all this gratitude.
I am going to do this today because a single day is not long enough time for appreciate all the gratitude I now have in my life.
I am grateful for:
My teenager sound asleep beneath a down comforter in her bedroom
The damn bunny she unexpectedly brought home last month
My little house
The University of Michigan football team (even though they sucked this year)
My amazing girlfriends
Coen brothers’ movies
My credit card balance: FINALLY $0
Enrolling my daughter in a pre-paid college program 18 years ago.
The ocean and every creature in it that has ever delighted me when I visit its depths
My therapist and nurse-practitioner
My book and the couple dozen readers who bought it
Cookies – any kind, anywhere
The smell of the jasmine outside my bedroom
The cold, wet black nose on my thigh that wants to take a walk in the rain, right now
(to be continued…)