Posted by: Jack Hope | Wednesday June 13, 2012

What Keeps Me Holding On

If you were to look back over my life over the last three years, it could charitably be called an unmitigated disaster. There has been an unfortunate litany of errors and reversals that has left me back at square one in my life:

  • I’ve gone from being an up and coming young banker with a promising career (and good salary) to being unemployed and virtually penniless.
  • I’ve gone from owning my home to living with my parents again.
  • I’ve lost my best friend and I’ve lost my partner, two keenly felt personal losses.
  • I’ve watched my dream of establishing myself in Vancouver collapse completely.
  • I’ve had my faith in any kind of God or higher power completely obliterated.
  • I have almost died, more than once. I still keenly remember the night that I honestly believed (at the time) would be my very last one alive.

The worst part of this though? This isn’t the first time that this has happened to me. This is the third time that I have effectively lost everything I have to a battle with Depression. This is the third time I’ve lost it all.

I don’t even know how I keep coming back from it. I don’t even know if I’m going to come back this time.

With all of these things in mind and my ongoing and seemingly unending battle with depression its hard to imagine what I might feel grateful for. Indeed, gratitude is not frequently not my dominant emotion on the subject.

Most of the time I feel angry about it.

I don’t even have anyone to be angry at. Angry at myself? Waste of energy, not going to get me better. Angry at my parents? For what, rescuing me again? Angry at God? If he exists (big if) then he’s so used to people being angry at him that I doubt it makes any impression whatsoever. God doesn’t care. Those following my blog will be aware that the healthcare system has been a pretty convenient target for my anger, but they’re not actually responsible for me having Depression, they’re just inhibiting my recovery. That’s bad enough.

So most days, it’s a powerless, directionless rage at the injustice and unfairness of it all.

Some days it feels like I can’t even get out of bed. Or that getting out of bed would be utterly pointless. I haven’t always managed to pull myself out of bed either. Those days, it’s hard to feel anything, anger, gratitude or otherwise.

And some days, those days when it’s hard to even get out of bed, it is almost impossible to feel grateful for anything.

My adult life is at its nadir. Again.

And yet, I do feel grateful. Some days I even feel suffused with a sense of gratitude that seems almost boundlessly irrational. After all, what do I have to feel grateful for? I’ve lost almost everything.

But I still have a life to live. And with it the power to maybe do some good in this world.

  • I could be dead but I’m not. And I’m grateful for that.
  • I’m grateful for my parents rescuing me (again).
  • I’m grateful for the Doctors back home in Vancouver who have helped me get as far as I have.
  • I’m grateful for the friends that I’ve made back in Vancouver during the time I was there and the opportunities I had while living there, like being able to be present for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
  • I’m grateful for the friends (both old and new) who have stood by me and supported me throughout this experience.
  • I’m grateful that I’ve had a chance to taste what happiness is, what it can be like and to know what I there is to strive for now.
  • I’m grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had, for all the places in the world I’ve been and all the amazing, awesome and wonderful things I’ve seen. And in all honesty, I’ve seen more than most people ever get to.
  • I’m grateful because I now have the potential to truly move past depression, even if it’s taking a bloody long time to get there.
  • I’m grateful because there’s a chance that maybe I can help others battling this illness.
  • I’m grateful even for the lessons that I’m learning through my experience of this illness, although I wish there had been a less painful way to learn them.

Despite it all, I do have a lot to be grateful for. It’s hard sometimes. It’s really hard sometimes to feel it.

But I am also realizing that it’s an important feeling for me to have, for me to express to myself and to the people around me. When I feel grateful, I remember that I have things to live for. When I feel grateful, I remember that good things can still happen. When I share my feeling of gratitude with others, I remind them that they matter to me and that they are making a positive difference in the universe. Gratitude allows me to nurture another very important emotion:

Hope.

The hope that life will be better for myself, that life will be better for those I care about, that life will be better for the world.

Hope is the one thing that keeps me hanging on, that keeps me from giving into the anger and fear completely. Hope can be enough to carry a person through the very worst.

I have hope because I have gratitude. And as long as I can hold onto that, I can still believe in a better future for myself and everyone else.

As long as I hold onto that, I can still believe in myself.

Thank you.

I was inspired to write this post in part by a number of events that have occurred recently that have reminded me both of the things that I have to be grateful for. I was also inspired in part by the appreciation for my writings by a fellow blogger, here. Receiving some appreciation reminds me again how important it is to share appreciation and gratitude.

In the spirit of expressing gratitude I am declaring today to be my day of gratitude. I’m asking all of my readers to share what makes you feel grateful, what you feel grateful for and what gratitude means to you.

Help me to celebrate a day of gratitude, by sharing through a comment, e-mail, tweet or other message what you feel most thankful for. As always, thank you for reading my blog and sharing the experience.

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Responses

  1. Jack, I started my gratitude list in this comment section and it became so lengthy that I decided to make a post out of it. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • I am very much looking forward to reading it.


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