I have tried so many different ways to combat depression. Ignoring it and soldiering on. Exercising. Watching good movies and TV shows. Reading. Cooking. Eating. Spending time with people. Spending time alone. Therapy. Medication. Meditation. Acupuncture. Massage. Keeping good posture. Trying to be of use to others. Working a lot. Working a little. Reading about depression. Reading self-help books. Writing positive affirmations. Trying to be positive. Ranting and raving. Listening to music. Singing. Writing poems. Writing a diary. Writing a blog.
Sometimes all this seems like an indication of how strong and determined I am to beat, or at least learn to manage, my depression. That I am responding to my problems in a way that shows I am tough and resilient.
Other times it just seems like a laundry list of distractions that I use to avoid the fact that I am a miserable and lonely failure. That I will always be struggling, always on the outside, always unhappy with myself. That I should just accept that, give up, and get on with being miserable.
But that way lies madness. And I am not too keen on that. So I keep trying new things. And sometimes they even work.
Something I have been trying recently is to feel gratitude. To appreciate my life, and the experiences I have. And it helps a little.
Recently, a friend from San Francisco suggested writing a gratitude list. But just doing this once didn’t seem enough. For about a year I tried writing positive affirmations each day. At first this seemed to help a lot, but after a while the effect faded.
So recently, I have decided to join the two ideas. Each morning, in a notepad I fill a page with the things about the previous day that I am grateful for, that I appreciate. These can be experiences that I enjoyed, things I achieved, or realizations I have made. They can also be about negative things too.
I wish I didn’t have to deal with this depression. But I do. I have tried ranting, raging, and despairing. It doesn’t help. So now I’m trying gratitude instead.
We all face so many challenges in life. We face a lot of pain, a lot of problems. This is a given. But I am gradually reaching the conclusion that responding to this with anger, resentment and frustration is not productive. I am also coming to think that it is the challenges we face that make us strong. Life is a struggle. But every day is another chance. Every problem is another opportunity to become a little wiser, a little more grateful for what we have.
And maybe, just maybe, a little happier.