Saturday, April 17, 2010

Of Depression and Appreciation

Yesterday I felt it creeping up on me. The desire to sit and stare at my computer, immobile and nonfunctioning… for hours. The spontaneous episodes of tears coming out of my eyes. Depression. I don’t want to indulge it. But I lack energy or motivation to fight it either. This is not the first episode in my life, and no doubt it will not be the last. I know it is situational. I know it will pass. I know there are perfectly good reasons for it this time around.

Nonetheless, I really don’t have time to succumb to it right now. I don’t have the time to be unmotivated. I have to move in a few weeks. I still don’t know exactly where I’m moving , but I do know that I am moving. Preparations need to be made. Boxes assembled. Six years of accumulated crap packed away. My child needs security, consistency, comfort. His world is about to be turned upside down. His parents are stressed out. He knows this but doesn’t know why, and it is affecting him – his body and his behavior all show that our stress is affecting him.

This is not ok.

I need to snap out of it.

So, number one – I started out with a list of things I appreciate. All the good, the blessings, the joys. Things I have that I can feel grateful for, to remind myself how full my life is and how fortunate I am. This worked. Between writing out all the things I appreciate, plus a bit of a good talk and cry last night with John, I am feeling much more functional today. So here’s my “happy” list:

1. John – He loves me and wants to make me happy. He didn’t want to sell the house. He was perfectly happy to stay here forever, but he knows I wanted to move so he agreed because he wanted to make me happy, despite the stressful mess I feel like I’ve plunged us into.

2. Schmoopybaby –He is such a delight. He is talking now, it seems like every day he tries out at least one new word. Every time he says “Bye bye Mama” and blows me a kiss as I leave for work I have a smile on my face for a long time. He is so cute and affectionate, my heart could just explode.

3. My job – I really like my job. The work is really interesting and rewarding, and I work with a great group of guys (the only other woman is on detail in another department until her retirement in 2 months). I love the security and stability of my job, and the flexibility and family-friendly culture.

4. Health – At this time, I have no health complaints to speak of. My vitamin D deficiency is taken care of by supplementing with a daily vitamin. I am currently off all pharmaceuticals and have been since I gave birth (I was almost going to say since before I was pregnant, but I forgot about that little stint with PIH necessitating blood pressure medication throughout my pregnancy. whoops, how could I have almost forgotten that!?)

5. Family – My family is a little bit smaller than it was less than a month ago, but what we lack in quantity, we more than make up for in quality. I don’t always see eye to eye with my mother and sister (ok, almost never) but they are mine and I love them. They love me and have always been there for me and would do anything they could to help me if I needed it.

6. Financial Stability – As I mentioned above, my job is very stable and secure. We have a good quality of life, always enough to cover our bills plus eating out or getting takeout about twice a week. We are thrifty and are able to save, so we can afford to splurge on a ‘big’ purchase every now and then (typically electronics equipment, which John is a junkie for). We are moving by our own choice, we are not being forced out of our home like so many other less fortunate people in my city.

7. Opportunity – It is easy to fall into the trap of feeling like I am going from a stable, secure environment of owning a house to an unstable, insecure environment. House prices may go up, interest rates could go up - we may not be able to afford the house we want in 6 months. But this is also an opportunity. Now that we will not be encumbered by a mortgage, we could go anywhere! We could look for jobs in California and go back there, near my family and most of my close friends. We could go to the mountains of Colorado, to the east coast, to Canada, anywhere. Rather than getting overwhelmed with stress, why not choose to be overwhelmed with excitement?

That last point is particularly challenging for me, given my natural temperament. I crave stability, security, consistency, predictability. I live a boring 9-5 style life and that’s the way I like it. I don’t do drama. I don’t take big risks. I don’t like roller coasters or horror movies. I may live in the gambling capital of the country but I don’t gamble. I may very well be the most boring person on the planet and you know what? I’m ok with that.

But there I go digressing again. My point was to share something that helped get me out of a depressive funk. The next time one of you, my dear readers, get in a funk, perhaps you can remember this exercise. Hopefully it will help you too. Make a list of all the things you appreciate in life – choose to focus on the positive, what you have rather than what you have not. It actually works sometimes.

1 comment:

  1. Shana - from one who also struggles with depression....thank you for sharing. It is a great idea and one that I will keep in the back of my mind for the next time (because there is always a next time). Love you and miss you, Diane