Is it possible to find gratitude when we are in the dark? Trapped in a deep depression, with suicidal thoughts, does gratitude even have a place? This was part of the discussion we shared yesterday after an excellent seminar with Sheila Hill, Navigator at the Morning Mingle at Pretty in Pink Spa. An excellent question and there were many different suggestions shared by the group about first steps to be able to get out of dark times.
Gratitude Tip: We’ve all had difficult times in our lives. Chances are that the people around you have been through some very difficult challenges and you might not even be aware of what they have lived through. I do believe that even in the darkest of times, we can find a place for gratitude. We might not be able to get there ourselves, but with the support of our loved ones and professional help, gratitude is one of the first steps to move from darkness to light.
Depression is the lowest emotion on the emotional guidance scale. As I’ve shared before, it’s not possible to go from depression right up to gratitude in one fell swoop. Using different strategies, including gratitude, allows us to move up from the bottom, to the next level which is insecurity or guilt – or maybe even hatred or rage. There are many strategies shared in Ask and It Is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks. This is a book I wish I had known about many years ago.
I’ve not shared this very often, but I’ve had personal experience with depression myself. After I did my first Ironman, I started experiencing symptoms of depression. I had tried to go back to exercise too quickly after the race and I ended up getting a shoulder injury within a few weeks, which meant I couldn’t swim. It was winter and I also wasn’t really able to run much (side note, I wasn’t taking supplements yet so the recovery from IM #1 was a lot longer than 2 & 3). The loss of the endorphins from all of the exercise affected me negatively. At the same time, I had completed a life goal. And it’s not uncommon to feel a sense of sadness or being lost once you’ve completed something major like an Ironman – the ‘what’s next’ feeling. And lastly, my first marriage was over. We had held on through the summer, partly because of the trip to BC for Ironman, but once that was over, I was no longer able to keep it together.
I was experiencing suicidal thoughts and was really afraid, so I went to the doctor for counselling and medication. Thankfully, the doctor I had at the time was a specialist in mental illness and I quickly got the help I needed. I used Cognitive Behavior Therapy along with a low dose of medication to help me get through it and back up the emotional scale. Once I left my husband and moved back in with my parents, things started to get better and I was able to wean myself off of the medication. This was many years ago, and I did not have a gratitude practice in place yet. Since this kind of therapy includes looking at our thoughts and feelings and how they affect our behaviour, it was a step in the right direction for my future gratitude habits.
To answer the question, is there gratitude in the darkest of times? I would say that yes, there is. It is one of the things that can help us to start to move out of the darkness by shining even the smallest bit of light. As we all as aware, the only way to eliminate darkness is by shining a light. I’ll leave you with this thought for today:
‘There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.’ -Edith Wharton.