I was recently challenged by my best friend to write about gratitude. We’ve all seen the gratitude challenges on Facebook: post about 3 things you appreciate, then challenge 3 friends to write 3 things that they are grateful for. For a nice blonde lady it’s a lot of math, but this would normally be the kind of challenge that I would participate in without hesitation. It’s fun and helps to remind us of all of the things that we take for granted but forget to acknowledge in our day to day. For someone who is prolific on social media, blessed beyond belief, and living proof that a positive attitude can get you through the darkest of days, I thought: “This should be a cake walk.”
Except that it wasn’t. This week I was clinically depressed and had no appreciation for the life I’d been given. I only wanted to die. I couldn’t make a pithy proclamation about my gratitude for the sunset, or the sunrise, or my beautiful children or my health. Every bone in my body hurt and I just wanted to pull down the shades, literally and metaphorically.
I’m trying to accept that my depression is no different from diabetes, MS, or even cancer but there remains a stigma around mental health. Depression is an insidious and shameful disease, one that we are only beginning to bring out of the shadows. The world is shocked and saddened by the death of Robin Williams, one of the most beloved actors and comedians of our time. The news that he was battling a severe depression surprised many – how could someone so funny, talented and kind be DEPRESSED? But for someone who suffers from depression, I know that darkness can lurk very close to the surface of a carefully constructed facade of happiness. Depression is a siren call that has lured many wonderful, worthy, beloved men and women to their deaths. For some, death is the only way to silence the screams.
Depression is a very real disease and yes, it is my disease. If there was one thing that I was grateful for this week, it was prescription medicine. Because without hardcore antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication I might have succumbed to the call of the sirens myself. But this wasn’t something that I could tell my Facebook friends, blog subscribers or Twitter followers; no one wants to read about someone’s sads on-line. It took every ounce of humility and desperation I possessed to tell the people I loved that I was suffering and that I needed their help. And during this dark night of the soul, I found something to be truly grateful for:
The people I loved showed up.
My family opened their arms. They gave me a place to feel safe and lay my head. My friends were on deck. They answered the Bat Call in every time zone around the world and made me feel worthy. I talked to my family, my friends and let them hold me with the words and their love while I cried.
Hour after hour, I clung to sanity and prayed for light. It finally arrived at dawn & for a few fitful hours I slept. My children awoke the next morning pining for bacon & bike rides as if nothing had happened. They remained blissfully unaware of the storm they had narrowly escaped. My little people reminded me of the big picture and kept me alive for another day. And for that, I am truly grateful.