As I sit eating a delicious lunch with my pup at my feet, in my warm home, in the office that is all mine, while I chat with a friend, it occurs to me, as it often does, that I have much to be thankful for. Throughout this dark period of my life, I have always been able to see beyond the gloom to the beautiful things in my life. They just seemed at arms' length. As they get closer, I am reminded of the wonderful things in my life. And so I've made a list of 12, one for each month I've survived this depression so far:
1. Support - Whether the words came from friends, colleagues, or strangers, I have received so much support through this ordeal and I am blessed for that.
2. Understanding - My husband has stood by my with complete and total lack of understanding of the daemons in my head, and yet a perfect understanding that I needed him to be gentle, quiet and to wait until I was ready to explain things. He never once pressured a single decision I have made in the past 6 months and he lends his supportive words to all of them.
3. Pharmaceuticals - Yes, me who is anti-go-to-the-doc-unless-I'm-dying, who is anti-flu shot, pro "rub a little dirt on it," and who was downright terrified at the effects medication might have on me, is thankful that they exist. My current medication is working wonders.
4. Children - They're so innocent that they don't ask painful questions. They treat you exactly the same, even when you need a legitimate break. They never cease to need you, which provides you the motivation to get out of bed when you otherwise lack it. Or, if you're especially lucky, you're also blessed with a child who is a confidant, a support and a champion of my cause. If you're especially lucky, you will have a friend and ally in your needs. If you're especially lucky, you will have what I have in Kailey, an exceptional, beautiful, wise young woman, who loves me for me, as I love her for her. No conditions, no expectations.
5. Yoga - For a while, it was the only place I could quiet my very dark and ugly mind. And now, it will take me into my future.
6. Sister wives - Well, we don't share a husband, but the moniker sheds light on how we raise our families together, spend time together, plan holidays together, and feel like family. I desperately needed this family when they came along and scooped me up. I will return the favor for a lifetime.
7. Writing - Good or bad in someone else's estimation, writing has saved me. It's brought me back to a state of mind where I can examine and make sense of my thoughts. When I'm writing, they don't spin so fast that I can't get them on paper and when they're down on paper, I can start to see the meaning.
8. Family - This wasn't easy for anyone, least of which my families. My husband and children suffered, my stepdaughter suffered, my parents and in-laws suffered for me. I am thankful that, despite their varied knowledge of what's happening inside my very private head, I never had to question their support. They asked difficult questions, I felt defensive. They raised eyebrows at choices, but didn't object. They have been solid and right beside me, even when they had no idea what to say.
9. Nature - I am thankful that the forest still exists, that there are babbling streams and logs fallen over valleys. Nature is a place that I feel strongly connected to, that brings me peace. I am thankful that I can go out and find places bigger than me that make me remember the small significance of me and therefore of my failures.
10. Photographs - I am thankful to be able to capture the good moments, so that I can remember they've been had. I sometimes get so far down that I can't remember the last time I smiled.
11. Hope - I had forgotten what hope felt like. My hope is tempered, as I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I do have hope.
12. Belief - Belief that this WILL GET BETTER. Belief that this last year of my life can be isolated, corrected and walked away from. Belief that I won't always define myself by my perceived failures. Belief that there is good in the world, even when I feel like I can't find it. Belief that there was a purpose for this suffering and belief I will be able to answer that "why."