It’s weird that you can kind of tell my mental well-being from my social media…or lack thereof. When I get low I tend to disappear. I don’t talk on the phone. I don’t post. I can’t concentrate enough to write and what I do write I end up hating as my depression colors every aspect of my judgement. If I had a normal job with set hours I’d probably be on disability because my broken brain is too unpredictable. I’m so lucky to have a life that lets me hide when I need to and gives me the support that I need. Not everyone gets that. Most people don’t, in fact. And I remind myself to feel grateful.
I am grateful.
As much as my depression lets me be when it attacks, that is.
My psychiatrist once told me that some people with depression find that keeping a gratitude journal can be helpful. I guess it makes sense. It helps you really appreciate what you have and when depression starts to lie to you you can go back and look at the pages and see how worthwhile life is. And I think it’s a great idea except that whenever I practice gratitude, instead of feeling grateful I feel guilty….guilty that I sometimes feel miserable (even temporarily) when I am given so much. And then I feel worse for not appreciating everything fully and then I’m convinced that it will all disappear because obviously I don’t deserve good things in my life if those things can’t automatically give me the happiness that I need to throw off the damp, heavy blanket of depression. I know this is all wrong – logically – but reality doesn’t count for much when dealing with the warped perceptions that sometimes settle into my bones.
So a gratitude journal isn’t going to work for me. But a few days ago I was listening to a This American Life podcast about delight and it really stuck with me. I can do delight. Even when I’m low there are still things that give me comfort, and when I’m coming out of the fog more and more pop up.
Last Christmas Victor bought me one of those electric fireplaces you plug into the wall and I use it every night. Even when it’s too hot to reasonably use an electric fireplace I stand in front of it reading a book and eating a giant glass of ice so that I’ll feel cold enough to enjoy the warmth. It is ridiculous. But it delights me.
So today do something for me…do something that brings you delight. Find those things that delight you and cultivate them. And I will too. We all deserve a little more delight in the darkness.
PS. Tell me something that delights you. Maybe it’s crunchy grapes in chicken salad or finding the perfect word or the joyous way your dog greets you or the smell of fresh-cut lumber or the swing you just put in the backyard. I want to hear it. Because sometimes delight can be contagious.