FriYay Gratitude

Elisa A. Escalante/ LCSW/ 09/30/2022

Anyone that has major depression can relate; Gratitude feels impossible. Our brain is lacking seretonin, and therefore we lack energy and motivation, and therefore we may not hunt for endorphins as we are supposed to. If we pay attention to the biopsychosical model, there is even more to it than that. Even our thoughts count. Depression involves the Bio- our brain chemicals, the Psychological- our thoughts, and the Social- Our environment: toxic or peaceful?? Then on top of that; stigma. It’s quite interesting how people perceive mental health. Some people want to believe their mental illness is “Purely a chemical imbalance” and no other factors contribute. Then on the other end of the spectrum, some people refuse to believe they have any type of chemical imbalance, and insist they can ‘Fight their way out of mental illness, if they just try and fight hard enough…it WILL get cured’.

I truly digress… this blog is not about depression, it’s about managing my depressive thoughts and practicing gratitude. Gratitude is a very helpful part of daily practice that can tame our depressive thoughts, but I will admit; it takes a very long time to get to this point. People with major depression have a lot of inner and outter work to do, and it cannot be rushed. Now that my life has calmed a bit in the past year, I am in this place where I can practice daily gratitude.

My FriYay Gratitudes:

Weekends are Life savers: Though they tend to go by so fast, I have been making sure that I use some of my weekend time to decompress. On one hand, many Americans compulsively use weekends to play ‘catch up’, I was no exception. But now I must INSIST, I deserve some decompression time and I will make it happen. Walks, TV, music, writing outlets, lounge outside on the hammock, long showers or bubble baths, clear my head of responsibilities. I have a Monday through Friday type of career, always have, and always will. Hoepfully, even if you do not have that type of schedule, you find a job that does give you at least a couple days off a week! Serving in the military allowed me to appreciate days off even more, they were not guarantee while I was serving, especially when deployed.

I have a Job that Pays descent and is NOT awful: What’s worse than having a job that sucks and really stresses you out? A job that sucks, is stressful and also doesn’t pay you what you are worth. but I am finally in a job that pays me my worth, has a mix of some stressful days but also some relaxed days. Can I really ask for anything better? Now, it took me 14 years of professional development to get to this point, but I am happy I learned more about myself through my work journey. I am so greatful that I stumbled upon this career opportunity in which I knew very little about (behavioral health consulting for a primary care clinic) and I fit right in.

I’m in a safe relationship… Finally!: My past relationships were complicated to say the least. And in the interest of my own personal accountabiltiy, I would say the main issue right off the bat was not understanding myself well enough to know what was even good for me. This all changed after surviving narcissistic abuse (2018-2020). I took a good chunk of time to do inner work, (and casual dating to practice more boundaries). Feeling safe in a relationship is imperative, but if you’re a survivor of abuse, it may throw you off at first. A part of finding someone that is safe for you, is creating both non negotiables and boundaries that remain consistent. And despite popular belief, the single most IMPORTANT aspect to finding an intimate partner is: Making sure they actually do, in fact, CARE about you. This does NOT get proven with what is said or promised, but rather, with consistent actions they make toward building a loving relationship over time. ❤

The weather where I live is NOT making me ill: NYC was making me ill, not just mentally but physically. I recall getting sick 3 times every Winter, between Jan & March. And not short bouts either, sickness that put me on my ass for days. That all changed the moment I got back to the desert in SoCal, honestly, my body felt comfortable immediately. I did have to readjust to extreme heat, but since I grew up in this environment, it was way easier to adjust. It amazes me how little people pay attention to environmental factors, and that is the bread and butter of social work. If your environment is toxic toward you, you will never be at your optimal mental health. I am grateful to be in a slow/ steady and calm environment, with a low population & ‘great’ weather for my body.

I can now, finally give myself breaks without feeling ashamed: The issue with any person that feels the need to either overcompensate or avoid by overpacking their work / hobby schedules is that they cannot slow down. If they try to slow down, they are immediately haunted with anxious and/ or shame thought patterns. “I’m not doing enough, “I’m being lazy”, “I have to”, “I should”, “I must”, “I need to”. To successfully break the thought patterns, we must use daily thought reframing. I am finally ‘guilt free’ when it comes to taking breaks. Humans need rest and recovery, it’s a part of life, plain and simple.

I’m in close proximity to family again: Even when I’m exhausted and dreading social encounters, I can honestly say I never regret it afterwards, especially with my immediate family. I spent 13 years away from my hometown due to my military and college careers as well as my first civilian career. It’s been time to catch up and it’s been warming. There’s something about talking with those that have known you the longest and seen you through a lifetime of journeys.

What is your Friyay Gratitudes? Feel free to comment below!

Published by functionallymentall

Social Worker, Writer, USAF Veteran

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