Appreciation Doesn’t Coexist With Depression
By Bernadette A. Moyer
Our adult son is battling “severe depression” after his place of employment closed their doors, and he lost his job. One thing that stands out is how much his thinking has changed. Not that long ago he was happy and so appreciative. He appreciated everything. If you gave him a gift, even clothing he was thrilled with it. If you treated him to the movies or out to eat, he was happy and he was appreciative.
He respected and he appreciated his job too. It made him happy to have a place to go, to have connections to other people and of course to be earning his own money. He often worked 10-12 hour days in retail, he worked full time and he greeted customers and waited on them. He was very social there. When you watched him in motion you would see his joy. He was also doing this while being on the autism spectrum and no medications. He was active, always walking and going out to the gym to workout.
What stands out today is his lack of appreciation. And not just lacking it but his deep sense of entitlement. He is now like a walking encyclopedia on all the free programs that the government provides for people with disabilities even though he has been told by his doctor that he is “not disabled.” With the help of social workers he knows more about food stamps, rent vouchers, social security benefits, SSI, SSDI, form 500 and much more.
He says he wants to live “independently” when in reality he wants to live dependent on the government. Well intentioned social workers have put all kinds of ideas into his head. They did not know him when he was happy and productive and truly independent. They did not know him when he was appreciative and grateful.
The more he is handed the less he seems to appreciate and the more “depressed” he has become. The more he thinks he can get, the less he is interested in doing for himself. Today and with the team of his doctors and social service workers he is taking 9-different medications and 27 pills in a single day. He has gained more than 50 pounds in less than two months and while being hospitalized.
On so many levels it is so hard to witness such decline in someone who is so young. This entire experience that we have witnessed has made us see the connection between appreciation and gratitude and how they do not coexist with depression. Someone that is depressed is unable to appreciate what they have, they spend their time thinking about all the things they lost and all the things they don’t have. It also drives home for us the importance of how we think, how we all think.
If we can find things to appreciate and to be grateful for we can fight off depression. We can fight depression naturally with a gratitude journal or diary. We can fight depression with a gratitude jar. We can focus on all the things we already have rather than on what we don’t have.
There is no pill that will cure depression! There are many people that find relief in medication but pills won’t make a depressed person happy and they don’t take depression away. We can all be depressed if we want and yes I am aware that we are all wired differently. Some people are pre-disposed to depression. Sometimes it runs in the family genetic make-up. Sometimes changing how we think actually changes our brain chemistry. Like a car that isn’t wired properly and won’t start and run, a person who isn’t properly wired won’t start and run either.
We always knew our son was on the autism spectrum, and we take great pride in knowing that we parented an autistic child that made national honor roll and achieved Eagle Scout. He worked hard and so did we in our support of him. He made it into the United States Navy and he held down a full time job for over three and a half years all the while that we supported him and encouraged him and rooted for his success. He was so grateful. He was so creative and he was interested in other people and less self-absorbed.
When we love someone, anyone it is hard to witness them being on the decline, destructive and making poor choices. It is hard to watch someone, anyone with so much life ahead of them spiral so far downward when all you want to do is pick them up and help them and yet you know there is really nothing that you can do. You have done all that you can do. This is his journey and not ours.
The biggest takeaway for us is that with appreciation and with gratitude, depression is far less likely to take root and stick around. A happy person is a productive person and a thankful person.
Today and every day we pray for people with mental illness and that they may find the strength, and the desire to pull themselves up and find gratitude for all that they do have rather than focusing on what they may have lost …
Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer
All books by Bernadette A. Moyer on Amazon and Barnes and Noble