Mr. Prince (and I’m not referring to the beloved singer of “Purple Rain” with an honorific — I’m referring to my beloved high school Latin teacher) would be so proud to know that I am reflecting back on my days in class and thinking about the root word of grateful.
Gratus -a -um — why? Why in the world am I thinking about the masculine, feminine, and neutered form of the root word for grateful? Because gratitude is a concept that has been on my mind a lot lately. And naturally, Latin comes to mind? Haha! (…life with bipolar disorder, and my natural nuttiness…)
Gratitude is a natural antidepressant.
I have struggled with depression on and off for a long time. My first and most vivid memories of my struggles with depression were in the summer of 2007, when I ventured off to live in and do missions’ work in Palmer, Alaska. It was a bittersweet experience. I loved it. I loved jumping off 30 foot cliffs into icy lakes. I loved the mountain hikes. I loved the late night deep campfire discussions about life, faith, and everything in between. I loved the long days with light blue skies until 3:00 AM. I loved stalking moose with my dear friend, Bridget. And yet — it was a tear-filled experience as well. It was shrouded with the clouds of depression.
And I have continued to struggle with it, on and off, since. There are various things in my life that trigger depression for me. That being said, I have found that gratitude is a natural antidote that, honest to goodness, truly works. I remember one time, while waiting to board an airplane, my mind started to sink into the depths. So I opened a note on my phone and started to furiously type a list of things that I was grateful for.
There are many ways to treat depression (and other mental illnesses): medication, counseling/therapy, education, support groups, and various life changes including practicing gratitude!
How does practicing gratitude act as a natural antidepressant?
When we focus on and consider what we are grateful for, the production of serotonin and dopamine increases in our brains. These neurotransmitters send signals to the “happiness center” of the brain similar to the way antidepressants do. So, essentially, practicing gratitude — literally writing down, or verbalizing what we are grateful and thankful for, can act as an antidepressant, but naturally, for free, and without all the negative side effects.
So, without further ado, I am going to write a short list of some of the things I am grateful and thankful for, because…
1. the people in my life. I have truly been blessed with some amazing friends and family and a wonderful man as well. Having mental health struggles makes for an interesting and fun life, but it can make life challenging at times. And I am so incredibly grateful for those who have walked with me through the dark times and celebrated with me in good times as well.
2. my faith in and relationship with God. Honestly, this is and has been the most sustaining thing in my life. Without God — I don’t know where I would be. He is my rock, my joy, my all.
3. my cup of coffee in the morning with splenda and a bit of creamer — a way to start the morning off with a bit of warmth and a bit of sweetness.
4. the energy that I somehow receive that wakes me up at around 6:00 AM every morning. I used to be that girl that woke up at 1:00 every afternoon, that slept away half the day. But miraculously, I now wake up like clock-work (much to John’s chagrin) around 6:00 every morning and am ready to take on the day. And I absolutely love it.
5. television sitcoms. When I am having a down day, when the tears won’t stop, or my brain won’t turn off and/or go to a happy place — I love to flip on Netflix and melt into my big screen TV and pop on Friends or The Office or Sex and the City or Gilmore girls or any show where I can join old pals and laugh and laugh and laugh…
6. grass between my toes. Oh and sand too.
7. I’m grateful for and so very thankful that I have transportation. When my good friend and college roommate, Lo moved back home to southern California, she sold me her car for $500. And I have had it for several years. It has been a good little car. And my mechanic, bless his heart, has done a great job of keeping her running. Praise God for transportation — to get to visit friends and loved ones near and far, to get to work, to go on any adventure my little heart desires.
8. books! books! and more books! and my Kindle! and my love for books! Yay reading! I have so many books on my “to-read-list” it’s not even funny. Like woah. I love it. I should probably write a post about books some day soon. Oh man. #englishmajor
9. jewelry. I love Premier Designs (a direct sales company I used to work for) and I love getting dolled up and fancy and layering on the jewels and I am so thankful for all of the jewelry that I have. What a blessing.
10. Last but definitely not least, I am SO SO thankful that my mom and dad bought me plane tickets to go visit my brother and sister-in-law and little niece in a couple of weeks with them for a week! BEST GIFT EVER! #cantwait
Alright. I think I definitely need to work on having an attitude of gratitude. Even just writing this post, I feel better. Maybe I should write a post about exercise and then I might be able to convince myself to go to the gym that I joined recently…bahaha! Thanks for reading guys. I’m grateful for you as well.
love to you my friends,