The other night at the dinner table, we were talking about gratitude. I explained to our five children that gratitude for things we love is easy; but what about gratitude for things we don’t really like? I asked everyone to name one thing they were grateful for that on the outside, would seem ludicrous. What were they thankful for that was hard but had inadvertently blessed their lives?
Homework. Cleaning the house. Bedtime. Their answers didn’t come very quickly, but when they did, it was obvious to see how they could be a blessing. Finally, it was my turn. For me, the answer is easy.
I’m grateful for my depression.
Depression is not fun. It’s not easy. It’s slow to strike, slow to diagnose, and sometimes it’s slow to eradicate. Like my asthma, depression never really, truly, honestly, goes away. It lurks. Depression enters the mind, slowly leaking into the heart and soul. During my darkest times, I would feel nothing. I would be motivated to do nothing. I would sit around all day doing nothing. My children were neglected, as was my husband, my friends, my house. Everything was a challenge. Mustering up enough strength to care, to try, to do anything was too hard. I would cry, I would yell, I would stare at the wall with glazed eyes.
In my darkest times, I felt nothing but despair.
During all of it, however, I never stopped believing I could be better. Even as despair ripped through me, the glimmer of faith was always there. As I began to recognize what was happening to me, I began looking for answers. I found solace in the scriptures. I found strength in prayer and priesthood blessings. And even though I eventually found my “cure” in therapy and medication, it was the Holy Ghost who guided me there.
Recognizing that glimmer of light was because of the foundation given to me by my faith in Jesus Christ. Just the knowledge that He knew exactly how I felt, that He had suffered those pains so He could know how to succor me in my afflictions, was powerful.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
It gave me strength to get off the couch and do the things I knew I needed to do. It gave me enough motivation to care for my family long enough until I could seek the medical help I needed. And even now, on the other side of depression, I can see how my faith in Christ continues to strengthen me –how the Holy Ghost continues to guide me.
This is why I’m grateful for my depression. It taught me to lean on the Lord. It taught me compassion, patience, and hope. Without this mental illness of mine, I do not think I would have the same level of knowledge of the plan of salvation. This challenge has given me strength and brought me closer to my Savior.
To me, it truly is a gift.