Monday, November 28, 2016

Post-Thanksgiving Confession

So this is the time of year when I'm supposed to say what I'm thankful for. To list all of the things that make me happy to be alive. And yet. It hasn't been an easy thing to do. Those of you who have kept up with my blog over the years have no doubt noticed two big things about it:
  1. I list something I'm thankful for at the end of each post.
  2. I blog regularly, rarely skipping whole months at a time.
This year has been different. Let me tell you why.

In June, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. It wasn't a surprise. I had been feeling worthless and hopeless and lonely for several months leading up to that point, and . . . What can I say, really, but the truth? There were plenty of times when I didn't want to be alive. When I daydreamed of scenarios in which I was rushed to the hospital, though everyone knew it was too late.

There's no way to describe the utter sadness that is depression. I thought I had an idea because I tend to be somewhat melancholy, but I didn't truly know how dark the world could seem under a cloud of depression. The darkness seems to come out of nowhere, too, and you think you're going crazy because one day you find yourself kneeling on the floor and sobbing your eyes out because again, you feel worthless and hopeless and lonely. Normally, you would "buck up" and go out with friends, pick up a forgotten hobby, or fill your life with busy-ness. Normally, you would have a strategy for finding a solution to the problem at hand. But this time––this time you don't want to see anyone, you lose interest in the parts of life you used to find joy in, and the most difficult part of the day is getting out of bed in the morning. This time, you find it nearly impossible to think clearly. For me, that meant no writing on my blog and no "Thing I am thankful for." It was hard enough just to be thankful for life.

Why am I saying all of this? Why am I admitting to this . . . awful thing? Because I've thought a lot about gratitude lately and what, exactly, I'm grateful for. Well, more than anything else––more than desserts and a home and a job and a car and clothes and family and religion––I'm grateful for people's attention. I'm grateful when someone asks me how I am and listens to the answer. I'm grateful when someone says, "How was your day?" I'm grateful when someone remembers something I mentioned a few weeks ago and follows up. I'm grateful when people take an interest.

Sometimes I tell people about my depression, and they say, "What can I do to help?" Here's what you can do––with me and with everyone, depressed or not:

Take an interest.

Take an interest in the lives of the people around you. Ask them questions and listen to the answers. Don't spend valuable listening time thinking of the next thing you can say. Just listen. Ask about people's hobbies and work. Ask them what they've been thinking about lately. Ask them if they've got any exciting vacation plans coming up. Ask them about their families and their lives.

The world is full of people who don't realize that the most important things in life aren't actually things––they're people. People who are closely connected to you, as well as people who are not.

I am grateful for people who take an interest in me and who make me feel like I am an important part of their lives. That if I vanished, they would notice.

Addendum: The point of this post was not to subtly request praise or words of love––though I do enjoy both of those things. ;) It was, however, a request that you pay attention to the people around you and take an interest in their lives. If a friend tells you he had a bad day, ask him about it. Pay attention to the people in your life, and make them feel loved by showing interest.


Blogger cardlady said...

Oh my sweet Chickadee, Sara! You ARE SO LOVED AND WE would miss you dreadfully bad, if you were no longer here. I think you have done great though, to get to a counselor and be proactive about MDD. I'm sure I have had bouts of it in my life, but you,are right. We need to engage and listen, really listen and care for each other. I want you to NOT be alone anymore. I want to be there more for you. Love you, and you ALWAYS have some new and interesting fact you have discovered about the world and then you freely share your discoveries. That is another great thing I think about you, when I think of you, which is quite often! Love mommydaddy.

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Summer said...

I love you Sara and would miss you so so so so much if you were gone, but I understand the feelings of wanting to leave. However, I get to see you in a few weeks! Yay! I'm so excited!

10:51 PM  
Blogger Jess said...

I often ask Niki or Carrie how you are doing. I guess I should just ask you:) Thanks for sharing this, I am sorry for the pain you have suffered and will continue to as you find your way forward.

I love what you said about Take an Interest. I am in a ward now that is quite diverse and many of the women just hang out with people that are "like them." What you said about simple question about hobbies could go a long way to helping women bridge cultural and racial divides, build unity and just get to know each other.

7:16 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

Great insight, Sara. Thanks for sharing. Miss you around these parts.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Aleni said...

A most beautiful post, Sara. Thank you for your vulnerability, and your honesty. Our world needs a little more of both. I hope to take your advice and be more sincere in in my inquiries and deliberate in my listening. Afterall, everybody has a story. Thanks for sharing yours.

p.s. here's a lovely christmas clip that I think puts to music some of what you might be trying to express:

2:07 PM  
Blogger Lexia said...

Sara, you've been a great friend to hundreds of people and have many friends all over the world. I hope this is a time where they/we can all be there for you. You've gone out of you're way to make so many people feels special and loved and I want to make sure you know that doesn't go unnoticed and this world is a sweeter place because you're in it (and not just because you bake such good treats in it).

You have been through a lot of physical and mental stress by being hit by that drunk driver as well as going through grad school and moving to multiple locations. It's understandable you're feeling the way you do. Just remember you're not alone - you have all of your hundreds of friends and me to love you.

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara, I am so grateful for you. This is an incredibly valuable lesson I've learned from you, not because you blogged about it, but because you live it every day. You take a sincere interest in those around you and their lives are better for it. It's no surprise you are surrounded by friends and family who love you and love being around you. I love you, Sara, and am so grateful that you took an interest in me and listened to me.

8:34 PM  

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