Gratitude vs Depression

I have recently come out of a fairly bad depressive episode - which in itself is nothing newsworthy (after all it has been happening for over 20 years!) However, this time it coincided with me going through some meditations on gratitude. That may seem odd. How can I be focussing on all the things that I am grateful for (and thankfully it’s a good list) but at the same time be deeply depressed?

This caused me to think about comments I have heard many times over the years.

People who have never lived with mental illness have said

“You have so much to be grateful for; how can you be depressed (or anxious or ….)

And I have also heard people who do live with mental illness say

“I feel guilty being depressed when I have such a lovely life”.

So let me offer some different perspectives. If I were to say

“You have so much to be grateful for, how can you have an over active thyroid?”

or

“I feel guilty having asthma - I have such a lovely life”

you would think I was making no sense at all!

So can I make a couple of requests?

If you don’t live with mental illness be aware that mental illness can affect anyone - confident or introvert, upbeat or miserable, outgoing or shy. Lots of people are fighting a daily battle to appear ‘normal’ so please be kind.

If you are living with mental illness don’t feel guilty, and invalidate the emotional states that you are experiencing.

You have an illness - and that’s not your fault. To use a cliche, it’s OK not to be OK - make sure you talk to a lovely person about it.

Mental illness affects at least 1 in 4 of us, so please join me in making it acceptable to talk about it.

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