Recognizing the positives in my life has been a healing part of my journey. So, when things start to feel bleak, I bring out this gratitude list as a reminder.
Looking back, this has been a hard year for me. It started with my doctor of 5 years leaving in the spring and continued to include several hospitalizations, medication changes, and several electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) treatments.
But I also have so much to be grateful for, even in the midst of all the madness and chaos. In this piece, I want to share some of these things. Feeling gratitude for all the positive things in your life is so important when you’re living with depression: It can be that anchor that pulls you through all the dark moments.
I find gratitude in my family, especially my mother, who’s like my best friend. I know that no matter what happens, she has my back.
Even though I’ve moved out of her house, we still talk almost every night and have dinner several times a week. She brings so much joy and compassion to my life.
My father has passed away, but he’s taught me important life lessons, too. I’m also grateful for my uncle, who’s been like a father to me. He’s always been there for me, and I always say that when I get married someday, I want him to walk me down the aisle.
I’m also grateful for several of my cousins, who are like friends to me.
I never thought I would find a new psychiatrist, but around May, I started treatment with Dr. S, a woman who’s saved my life.
She’s made herself available to me whenever I think I’m slipping. She wants to know, exactly, any night that I can’t sleep, which is a sign of an upcoming episode for me.
Dr. S has so much compassion and cares about her patients more than any psychiatrist I’ve ever seen. She’s taught me things about my condition that I never knew before, simple things that have changed the way I live my life, like keeping track of my moods and letting her know before they spiral.
I’ve been seeing Lauren since February, and she provides me with the supportive psychotherapy that I need to live my life. She’s also there for me in emergencies after hours.
She and Dr. S work well as a team to keep me safe and well. Lauren has also helped me understand the way my brain works. I see her every week and know that I can unload whatever is bothering me, and I will walk out of her office feeling better about my life.
As I’ve had a rough time with my condition, I’ve had to spend some time in the emergency room (ER) and was hospitalized a few times as well. I’m grateful that these safe places exist where I can go and have my medications adjusted.
While I didn’t particularly enjoy these experiences at the time, I’m grateful that they were able to keep me safe. I’m also grateful that Dr. S came to visit me in the ER one night, which made me feel so much better.
Additionally, the hospitals I went to had group therapy sessions and staff members who helped me cope with what I was going through.
I had a series of several ECT treatments when I was hospitalized in May and then had maintenance treatments every few weeks until the end of September.
At first, like with many people, ECT worked for me, and it worked almost instantly and dramatically when my medications stopped working.
Once I started to get better, I didn’t want to have the treatments anymore, but I can’t deny that they helped me get better when I was very ill.
For a while, my cognitive skills were on the fritz from the treatments. I could hardly write, and nobody could tell me when I would think clearly again. I was frantic that I would never be able to write again.
Dr. S promised me that I would get my cognitive skills back, and the neurologist I see for migraine said the same thing.
It’s been a slow process, but I have noticed that I’m slowly getting my writing abilities back. As scary as it sometimes was to be put under, I knew that ECT was the only way I was ever going to get better.
I’m grateful for my job. I get to work with a team of gifted professionals who have also become like friends to me.
My job gives me a place to go every day to use my brain to produce writing. It keeps my brain occupied instead of sitting at home with nothing to do.
I’m working toward a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in creative nonfiction writing, and I’ve really enjoyed the program.
After two semesters in the program, I can tell that it’s been making me a better writer. I’ve been lucky enough to have two amazing writing mentors who helped me see how I could improve my writing skills. They’ve both offered excellent feedback.
I’m also grateful for the other students in the program and my friends, whom I workshop with at residencies and share tips and tricks with all the time. I enjoy the residencies where the students and faculty mentors come together to talk about writing — everyone is so passionate about their work.
Now that I’m done with the ECT, for now, my psych meds are working. I finally feel like I’ve stabilized on my medications and that my body can tolerate them.
I’m grateful for this because this isn’t the case for everyone.
I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to afford my hospitalizations, doctor’s visits, and medications.
There have been times in my life that I haven’t been insured, so I know how important it is to have this. It’s incredible that I’ve been able to afford the very best care out there and at a very low cost to me.
I always have a book with me! For a while, because of the side effects of my ECT treatments, I couldn’t even get through a few pages.
I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to devour books again these days. It’s proof that I’m getting better and that my cognitive skills are coming back slowly but surely.
I like to watch something on Netflix or Hulu when I come home from work and am eating my dinner. When I’m upset about something, my go-to movies and TV shows help me cope with overwhelming feelings.
Additionally, I always have my music going on my iPhone, and it helps me when I’m writing something or at work and trying to get a project done. I can’t really do anything without my music!
There you have it! Again, it’s been a very rough year for me, but I can look back and see that I also have so much to be grateful for.
I have top-of-the-line medical treatment, a good job, and people who love and care about me, even when I’m at my worst.
I need to keep this gratitude list with me to help me navigate through the hard times that will inevitably come my way. Thanksgiving is a good excuse to put together a list like this, but again, I will always keep it close by!
Medically reviewed on November 16, 2023
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