Saturday, February 21st, 2009


Filed under: challenges and memes,depression — alison @ 10:52

A friend who has suffered hard losses writes: “What do you appreciate? Come on, stretch yourself: we want to hear more than the standard “I’m grateful for my health and my family” answer. Come up with your top 10 and pass it on!” And goes on to list ten convincing gratitudes.

My first thought was that this was going to be a difficult but important exercise for me because I’m feeling anxious and depressed these days.

My second thought that I’m going to have trouble listing things I’m grateful for that are not countered by the fear of losing them. I will lose my health and my mind and my family. I will lose my job, if not now then soon or later. So I need to identify things that I either will not lose or that I can enjoy in the moment, knowing that I will lose them. (Consciousness of not using them to their fullest – that is a burden I will just set aside for now.)

My third thought is to be inspired by a young cousin. At age four, during his private nightly review of gratitudes with his mother, he offered up “That relative at the party with [gesture toward his chest]?” Meaning me. I was so chuffed! My genetics, poor diet and tacky wardrobe combined to bring pleasure to a small boy, even as they brought shame to my personal judgement.

My cousin is a hard act to follow, but I’ll try.

1) Canadian citizenship. Patriotism is not one of my values, but I was not born into a country where, for instance, I would be more likely to be raped than to learn to read. A more general phrasing might be ‘the goodwill of my neighbours.’

2) My smile. The pleasure of connection it brings me; the kick I get when a stranger grins back at me.

3) The fact that for now, I have the resources I need to meet my challenges. Tomorrow is another day.

4) Sunlight. Walks in the sunlight.

(Do I need more? Ick. I’m not even halfway through and I’m already stuck. See? I really need to do this exercise.)

5) My past. (Even the painful parts – I’m glad they’re over!)

6) My apartment. Every day I wake up and am grateful for it. I own the building and it’s true, I’m constantly fearful of losing the building, but the apartment itself? I am able to be grateful in the present.

7) Ok, my job. I am grateful for it. People give me all sorts of opportunities and they pay me well. It’s a pained gratitude, because I don’t feel that I deserve it, and unlike sunshine a good job is something that needs to be deserved. But I am not ungrateful.

8) Mark. He hates it when I say this because he feels that I am putting him up on a pedestal. But it’s exactly the opposite: he’s down here in the muck with me, and we are a good fit here. (Mostly.)

9) My friends. I’m not good to them but they are good to me. I am grateful.

10) My family. Yes, I will lose them, have lost some already, but there is no fear, only love.

Your turn!

Wednesday, August 14th, 2002

Sam Johnson was snarky about women, but he was also a thoughtful depressive.

Filed under: depression,procrastination — alison @ 21:06

“There is no snare more dangerous to busy and excursive minds than the cobwebs of petty inquisitiveness, which entangle them in trivial employments and minute studies, and detain them in a middle state, between the tediousness of total inactivity and the fatigue of laborious efforts, enchant them at once with ease and novelty, and vitiate them with the luxury of learning. The necessity of doing something and the fear of undertaking much sink the historian to a genealogist, the philosopher to a journalist of the weather, and the mathematician to a constructor of dials.”

– Johnson: Rambler #103 (March 12, 1751)

[Originally transmitted by e-mail August 14, 2002]

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