This post is a 10 min read
From the years 13 to 17, I had very deep, very debilitating depression. Because of some unfortunate circumstances I couldn’t control, my life was very dim at that young age.
My dream school was taken from me, my goals were unattainable, I was very insecure, I had no friends, and my family was going through something I couldn’t help with.
I felt that my life had ended before it even began. The future seemed hopeless. I didn’t have the same opportunities my peers had; I felt behind and stuck.
Many days I felt like a heavy blanket was draped over my chest, back, and neck creating a pressure I couldn’t shake. I felt I had no one to turn to; I had no outlet. And on top of it all, I felt as if God had turned His back on me, too. ‘What did I do?’ I would ask. ‘Why me?’
So I turned my back on Him. I rebelled. I developed a sour attitude and peered into my world through a dark window. I only saw the negatives and the things that made this world dangerous, hateful, or lonely.
I sincerely did not like life.
One day in November of what I think to be 2015, I was slouching in my bed feeling heavy and tired. I had no motivation- the depressing memories of my unfruitful life sapped my mind until my body mimicked my brain and, sunk.
The day felt unbearably long but it was only noon. My mom was in the doorway folding our laundry quietly. My sister was sitting on her bed, talking to my mom about something I can’t remember (and probably wasn’t paying attention to either).
When I looked at my sister and mom- really looked at them- I then looked at myself. And then I looked out of the window and in that moment I decided that I didn’t want to be sad anymore.
I can’t even tell you the surge of empowerment I felt when I said those words to myself.
I can decided that? But how? What do I need to do? How can I make this decision solid?
I turned to my mom, almost crying, and in a desperate voice asked: Mom, how can I be happy?
Now, just as a little backstory, my mother is no stranger to unhappiness. She’s had her fair share of hard moments, becoming a single mother at a young age and learning how to navigate a new culture, country, and language at a young age. She is the strongest person I know.
And you know what she said? She said,
It puzzled me at first and even frustrated me that my mom would suggest something as absurd as gratitude. What was gratitude going to do for me? It was not going to get me friends, a better education, or make my family’s problems go away.
However, just prior to this I had received a gratitude journal at church. Perhaps it was inspired? As I connected the dots I wondered, Could gratitude actually fix my tangible problems? Fears? Worries?
Did the Egg Come First Or the Chicken?
Some see the course life as a a glass of water- half full or half empty. Positive or negative. Some seasons of life may be half full and the other half empty.
Others see life as a timeline that create a list of factual events- the events of your life that make your story. And some see life like they are being controlled by some unknown Higher Being; a good example would be Sims.
Some see life as a box of chocolates, which is one of my favorite perspectives.
And lastly, others (like me) see life as a graph, which is the perspective I’ll be focusing on today.
A graph’s sole purpose is to document progression.
Sometimes that progress goes up or forward- which is good. And sometimes your progress plummets, leaving you with 0s and disappointment.
I have a friend that first showed me an analogy about life in the form of a graph years ago. She explained that no matter how far you fall in life, you will always go back up.
You see, life is chalk full of ups and downs. But those downs will always lead you up and those ups are the peaceful moments of the ride. The hard times become the balloons that take us over the clouds.
Elder Holland, one of the modern day Twelve Apostles once said:
“…However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.” [The Laborers in the Vineyard]
Gratitude has kept me afloat during turbulent times. I have always made it through on gratitude.
I am a living witness of the healing power of gratitude. I wrote in that journal every day for a year. I was astounded to see that after all that time I felt happy. My life was somehow better.
The Healing Power of Gratitude
This week President Nelson, the Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and also a past heart surgeon of many decades challenged us to give thanks for the plenteous blessings we have. The video can be found in this link. He said,
Gratitude can heal our spirits and our lives. You’d be surprised what a little perspective change can do for you.
Under the hashtag #givethanks social media was flooded with people sharing what they were grateful for. I participated with a knowing heart remembering all that the Lord had done for me in the past.
Rose Colored Glasses
I love this phrase, “rose colored glasses”. I know that it can be seen as a negative thing at times, but maybe we could all use a different lens to look through. The blessing of gratitude and also the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that it helps you see through different eyes. You will not see life the same when you focus on the good.
You see, nothing actually changed that year. I was still in the same circumstance without the things I wanted and without some things I needed as well. But because I focused on my blessings I found energy to be more productive. I made amazing friends that are still in my life and I was getting a great education at the time, too. My life even calmed down a bit and started to feel normal.
The only thing that really changed was my vision. I concentrated on my blessings and chose to work with the problems. My life may have been a bit of a down turn on the roller coaster of life, but it came back up again.
I have a firm hope that no matter how many times I fall, I will rise again because of Jesus Christ. He is the author of HOPE. He made everything possible.
So I challenge all of you to share something you’re grateful for either on social media (using the #givethanks hashtag) or in any other way you see fit. I also invite you to give a prayer of gratitude every day, telling God how grateful you are for the blessings in your life and the miracles you’ve witnessed.
What is a positive experience you’ve had with gratitude and overcoming challenges with it? Comment below! I would love to hear what you guys have done and post some of your responses on my social media!
DISCLAIMER: I am not claiming that gratitude is a replacement for other methods such as medication or therapy. Gratitude is simply a method I used that personally healed me.
To find out more of what you’re purpose is and who you are as a child of God, check out my most recent post: Everything Within your Power.
This post was written for women, but it is also applicable to men!