Some people who know me more superficially believe that I am always happy, perky, bubbly, not phased by many things.
Those who know me well, one, know I struggle with a dark depression. I say struggle because, yes, it is a fight. I need to strategize. There are ups and downs. Depression is a wild beast and we’ve been through many rounds together.
For my partner, my cynicism about things drives her crazy. I am often saying, “yeah, but….” I want facts.
So, the other side of “gratitude journals” is that it can often come across as blaming the person who is sick. “Just think of things that you are grateful for and your mind will change.” “Those things will magically grow.” “You draw in what you focus on–maybe if you stopped focusing on the negative, you will feel better.” It can feel very invalidating.
When I was in the darkest part of my depression, I wanted to feel positive things. But, I just couldn’t see it. This article talks about that anhedonia (lack of experiencing joy) well. It made me feel worse to know I *should* be feeling better, happy, grateful, and didn’t. I had a good life, good family, what do I have to be sad about? Well, a brain imbalance for one.
I do not believe “gratitude journals” are a magic bullet. There is no magic bullet. I do not believe writing these things down will help me focus, pay my bills, or have energy to exercise. I do not think it takes the place of medication.
But, I will write the things I am grateful for now because it means something to me to even be able to know that those things made me feel a spark inside. Each act of writing is life affirming. If I go through another very dark time, hopefully, these things will serve as a reminder that life comes back.