Mental wellness challenge – 2020, October 9
Another Friday comes… another week is behind me… My challenge to you last week was to be intentionally tolerant, to use “please” and “thank you” and to find a reason – every day – to smile. How did you do?
I was reasonably successful with my challenge. I exercised tolerance as best I could – even at times when I was… well – biting my lip… I made a point of using please and thank you when I was dealing with folks and I purposefully looked for a reason to smile for all but I think one day… so that was pretty good.
We have entered Autumn. I like the fall. The colors, the changing of the seasons, the harvest of crops and the celebration of the bounty. This weekend we set aside some time to celebrate the harvest… Thanksgiving weekend. My family is planning a dinner to share time together and to enjoy each other’s company. I have a family tradition to ask each person at the table to share something in their lives that they are thankful for. We go round the table and each person thinks up with something that they are thankful for and then we dig in to our feast.
Gratitude – in my experience, I have discovered that gratitude is an extremely powerful and poignant tool. When I intentionally take the time to look for things in my life that I have gratitude for – I fill my “vessel”. Now, I know my bucket has a hole or two in it and I am working on the parts of my experience that I need to – to patch up those holes… but it leaks… so taking time to make sure I am topping my vessel up – helps me stay out of the darkness. I KNOW that if my bucket is low – my self esteem is low too. When my self esteem is low… I start to self-denigrate… I slip further and further into the dark forest that is my depression.
On “my depression”. I know I really have to watch. I MUST be vigilante. I face what is diagnosed as “Persistent Depressive Disorder”. This has been described to me that – I have been through so many depressive cycles in my life, my experience – that clinical depression is part of my experience now. This is different than most folks who will or may experience an episode of clinical depression in their lives. My understanding is that for the majority of people – if they experience an episode of major depression – once they have been treated and the depression has resolved – they might not ever experience it again. Comparatively, my depression is more persistent – chronic I suppose. So, I need to make certain that I am careful to watch for the signs – the tells – that signal I am headed in the wrong direction.
Gratitude – things I am grateful for:
I am grateful for…
…the opportunity to share my journey, my experience, my learning. This helps me on my journey and I know – because folks have shared their journeys with me – it helps others too.
…the freedoms that I enjoy living in Canada. I enjoy the rights and privileges of our Canadian society, there are so many places in the world where those rights and privileges are nothing more than a dream.
…police, fireman, customs officers, nurses, and all the other public servants that do what they do to keep “us” safe, secure and healthy. So easily taken for granted – these folks take care of me and society. They deal with the yukky stuff, the dangerous stuff and the things that scare me. These folks often rush in – while I/we are rushing out.
…the availability of food in the grocery stores. I am blessed to be able to go to the store and “pick out” veggies, meats, breads… So blessed when I consider that there are people right in my community that don’t have that opportunity… and there are people living in places in the world where grocery stores don’t really exist.
…the electric, utility and tele-communications companies that support my life with electric energy, natural gas and communications… without them, my life would be so incredibly more difficult and less comfortable.
…my work. My work feeds my mind, feeds my needs as a social being, feeds my self esteem and so many other things. I am truly fortunate to have the work I do. I love my job.
…my kids. My daughters and grandchildren are the definition of love in my heart. My world would not be the same without those two beautiful souls in it. My daughter’s spouses are super important parts of my experience too. The old saying – “A son is a son ‘til he takes a wife, a daughter’s a daughter for the rest of her life.” is a truth.
…my best friend, my wife. My wife has endured thick and thin in her life with me. I am so grateful that I have had K by my side through all of the experiences I have had in my life. My life would be so very different without her presence in it.
…my brother and sister. While we aren’t the closest family on the face of the planet – I appreciate that I know – TO MY CORE – that if I need them – they would be there for me. I love them so very much.
…my friends. I have very few close friends. The friends that I do have are important to me. I have friends who care for me enough to hold my feet to the fire and hold me accountable. Truly – my close friends can be counted with one hand. I have tried and tried to cultivate more relationships in my life – I don’t seem to be able to “grow” close friendships. I have plenty of acquaintances… but very few close friends.
…the doctors, psychologists and other supports that I sought support from in my journey. Without their help and professionalism, I would not be as well as I am today. Certainly – there are good docs, and not so good docs… and I have experienced both. Overall – I am grateful for their abilities.
…the medicines that are available to treat everything from a sore back to my depression. While the medicines aren’t a panacea – they are a significant part of my journey to wellness and I am grateful that I have access to them.
…solitude. I am so grateful that I have the space to be able to be alone. I’ve experienced cities where it is so very difficult to be “alone”. I value my space so very much and I am grateful that I have the ability to have it.
…the roof over my head. I don’t live in a castle, nor do I live in squalor… Truly – Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home. My house is my safe place… so many in Canada and in the world don’t have a home… or their home may be a park bench or culvert. I am so grateful that my life and my circumstances have provided me with a place to come home to.
…the social programs that make living in Canada as comfortable as it is. I am grateful that in Canada – people can get medical attention without worrying about mortgaging their lives away… organ transplants and other major surgeries don’t bankrupt folks… We still have room to improve in Canada – there’s folks who still have to choose between medicine and food or treatment and heat etc… but Canada is so much better than other places in the world.
…the awareness that is growing surrounding mental health. I am grateful that more attention is being focused on mental health issues. Society has a long way to go, but still – I am grateful for the steps we are taking.
… your participation in my journey.
There are so very many more facets of my life that I have gratitude for.
This week – I’d like to challenge you to:
- Find one thing each day to be grateful for, write that down on a sticky or a note and put it in a place like your fridge or bathroom mirror where you will see it and them through the week.
- Share your gratitude with someone in your life.
- Practice kindness.
That’s it – I challenge you!