Gratitude can’t always scare off your depression – and that’s ok

Gratitude.

It’s a very powerful thing – in fact, it can be the momentum you need to keep you moving through the days you feel too tired to continue; tired of the mental illness trying to pry away the big and small things we rejoice in.

But sometimes we are unable to feel that gratitude, even though we try and we know we should, and that’s completely ok.

Depression is particularly cunning at breaking down our gratitude, which is terrible because from there it’s an easy shot at our positivity and hope, and the despair sets in.

Sometimes when I am depressed, I make lists of everything I’m grateful for. I spend a lot of time, on my own, trying to stir up the deepest feelings of appreciation for my loved ones, the weather, even my comfortable and expensive linen – but most of all, appreciation for what it feels like to simply exist.

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It’s really the only effective way that I can defeat my depressionsometimes.

Other times, however, it doesn’t work. 

Sometimes when I am depressed, I try with everything I have to adhere to Tumblr templates for gratitude journals and I attempt to find the motivation to even think about what I like about my life or existence in general, and I can’t.

Sometimes depression takes the ability to feel grateful from me, and I get angry with myself. I beat myself up and ask myself why I can’t be like all the other mental illness success stories of people filling mirrors with sticky notes about appreciation.

I feel disgusted and frustrated with myself for being so ungrateful, and tell myself that I need to get it together. I feel as though it were my choice to be so sad and moody because  I can’t look on the bright side.

nathan-dumlao-592015-unsplashBut I wanted to tell you that sometimes it’s ok to not be grateful. Sometimes it’s okay to not feel appreciative or positive about anything. It isn’t your fault.

When your mental illness exhausts you, cripples you, calls you mean names, it often does it in the disguise of yourself. You tell yourself you’re useless or ungrateful or weak, but, as anyone experienced in the art of overcoming mental illness understands, mental illnesses lie to us.

So don’t beat yourself up over things you can’t feel and things you do feel. Your mental illness is already doing it for you, you don’t need to help. Sometimes there are things you just can’t help but feel – or not feel, and that’s completely ok.

Ride it out, take your medication or do your yoga or scream into a void – do whatever it is you do when you’re knocked over by a bad wave, and you feel as though you’re drowning. Don’t waste energy being angry with yourself for not being able to just pull it together or find the silver linings to lift your mood.

Sometimes it just isn’t that easy, and some days you’ll feel as though there isn’t anything to be grateful about. Don’t let that make you bitter, because you know it is temporary, even though it doesn’t feel like it at the time.

Be easy on yourself when your mental illness isn’t – give yourself some slack when your mind won’t. You deserve it.

 

-Steph

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20 Replies to “Gratitude can’t always scare off your depression – and that’s ok”

  1. Thank You for posting this. I was never able to clearly put what I felt into words but you took all my scattered thoughts and laid it all out clearly. It takes a lot to open up this way sometimes and I appreciate this, stay strong!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I know how terrible depression feels and how it steals away ever ounce of happiness or positivity you’ve got. I try to remind myself to be grateful to God for all the things I have. I try to be grateful that things aren’t worse than they are. Sometimes, though, it’s a struggle. It’s not that I’m not grateful, it’s more like I just can’t express it. I feel trapped in a mind cage and utterly limited in what I am able to feel and do. Nicely written piece here. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love that so much. I feel so bad most times when my anxiety turns me into this high strung control freak constantly being upset with my partner. Which of course starts a snowball of anxiety, worry that I’ve become too much to handle, or that he’s unhappy being around me. I love that you remind us, to give ourselves a break at times. Because our own mental status is heavy enough.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. So glad I came across this today. It’s just one of those days you know. I can be so hard on myself. Thanks for reminding me that I’ll be okay 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hey Steph,
    I am glad to see you back. I agree 100% with what you discuss in this post. I have been feeling the same way. Even the most seasoned of us, dealing with mental illness, feel like this, and it is important to tell ourselves it is okay to not be grateful. Amazing post. Thank you for sharing it with this blog.

    James

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Yes, very true. I started blogging gratitude towards my wife in hopes that it would bring me closer to her and keep depression away. You’re right, sometimes it’s easy, but sometimes, like right now, it’s harder to do because you just don’t feel the gratitude and even forcing it generates nothing.

    Liked by 2 people

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