Living with depression is difficult. Everyone might not understand depression, but everyone has their own struggle to identify with… and no matter the situation, holding on to hope is important. There are a lot of hopeful things in my life, and I have a lot to be thankful for, but sometimes I forget these things. Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget the good things, but not so easy to forget the bad. Depression is real. Thoughts of worthlessness feel real. Self-doubt feels real. The realness and validity of these emotions can make us forget that hope is also real. This type of selective forgetfulness terrifies me; it makes us forget possibilities, it makes us forget to be thankful for the good things. For the last few months I’ve felt like a train running off the tracks, without much hope in sight…
Ironically, November and December are months of thankfulness, so I’m using this as an opportunity to adjust my perspective. With each passing day I plan to take a look at my life, pick something I’m sincerely thankful for, and add it to this list. I believe there is power in positive thinking, and I’m hoping this Thankfulness Journal helps put my train back on the right track…
Thankfulness Journal: 30 Days of Thanks
Day 1: Daisy America Mosley-Banks
For almost ten years it’s been my job to keep Daisy happy, healthy, and alive. But actually, Daisy is the one that keeps me alive. When I was young, Daisy taught me responsibility and how to make it on my own. As I’ve grown, Daisy has taught me about unconditional love; how it should be given, and how it should be received. When I’m at my lowest, Daisy gives me a reason to keep going. When I cry, Daisy is there to comfort me. When I hate myself, Daisy is there to show me that I deserve love. When I hit my high points, Daisy is there to celebrate with me. There is a tether between our hearts, and I’ll forever be thankful that Daisy found me.
Day 2: TV Shows
It may seem odd, but today I’m thankful for TV Shows. No matter how good or bad I feel, shows are always there. With the push of a button I can go on an adventure; I can explore space on the Starship Enterprise, run around Central City with The Flash, and sing Broadway songs with a Glee club. No matter how bad my day has been, I can sit on my couch, and turn to a show; I can solve a crime with Neal Caffrey, I can eat waffles in Pawnee, I can attend a dinner party on Wisteria Lane or in Bluebell… I can forget my problems, if only for 30 minutes. I can laugh, learn, and cry with characters that feel like long-lost friends. I’m thankful for these adventures, the distractions they offer me, and the lessons they teach me.
Day 3: Cooking
Today I’m thankful for cooking. For me, cooking is the perfect balance of self-care and care for others. Cooking a meal, no matter how extravagant or simple, is sincerely therapeutic. Cooking makes me feel important and helps me love and appreciate myself. No matter how bad my day has been, when I start cooking all the badness seems to fade into the background. Suddenly it’s just me and pasta, or pizza, or soup, or risotto… or whatever the meal of the day is. I am responsible for creating something beautiful. Cooking is also something I can offer to others: cooking a meal for someone is the prefect act of love and service. Cooking challenges me, and makes me feel alive and vibrant: there is always something new to learn, the growing artistry and craftsmanship of cooking never ends. Sincerely, I love the relationship I have with cooking. I drift away from it sometimes, but I always find my way back, and it’s always waiting on me… and I’m always happier for it. [Visit my “Cooking” category for recipes.]
Day 4: Camping Trips
My husband and I winterized our camper today, and it made me realize how much I love camping. Several times a year, my husband and I load up our dogs and set out for a week-long off-the-grid camping trip. These trips are blessings for our marriage; we unplug, cook out, and spend quality time together. All year, my husband works crazy hours, and I spend an outrageous amount of time online (blogging), so it’s nice to have time reserved for us, and our dogs. It’s like a mental and marital recharge. I’m truly thankful for our camping trips, and the adventures we go on.
Day 5: Informed Decisions
Tomorrow is Election Day. Today I’m preparing myself so I can vote with confidence. I’ve already done a great deal of research, but today I’m giving myself a final peace of mind. I’m setting aside time to research and recheck all of the topics that matter to me. I’m very thankful that I have the ability to research, fact check, and make informed decisions. America is a random mix of people, and we all have a valid story and set of beliefs that have been formed and individualized by our lives. I’m thankful to live in a country where people can form beliefs, learn, and make informed decisions in elections. I’m also very thankful for the professors I had in college who taught me how to make informed decisions.
Day 6: Voting
Today is Election Day, and I’m thankful that my husband and I went to the polls together. Sometimes we don’t agree on politics, but we always have informed and respectful discussions… and, in the end, we normally land on common ground. I’m thankful for the conversations we have, and the insights we gain from each other. I’m also sincerely thankful for the right to vote, itself.
Day 7: Bed
Today, I’m thankful for our bed. Our bed means a lot to me. When I’m struggling with depression, it’s a safe place where I can hide from the world. When my husband has the morning off, it’s where we have coffee and binge-watch Star Trek. When I have baskets of laundry to fold, it’s where I fold them. When I’m anxious and can’t sleep, it’s where I read and drink tea. It’s a soft place to land – figuratively and literally. When it’s time to sleep, it’s where the five of us lay; me, my husband, our two dogs, and our cat. You might find this odd, or uncustomary, but this is us – and I’m thankful for it.
Day 8: My Friend Amber
I don’t connect with people well, and it keeps me from making friends easily. So, I’m thankful for the friends I have. But today, I’m most thankful for one friend in particular: Amber. I don’t know what I did to deserve a friend like her, but she is truly remarkable. She is kind, accepting, understanding, and loving, she is even tough on me when I need it. When I’m depressed, she genuinely checks on me. When I get anxious in public, she is patient and helps me calm down. She is the Ann Perkins to my Leslie Knope, the Ethel to my Lucy, the Leonard to my Sheldon, the Meredith to my Christina… I mean, she even puts up with my constant and ridiculous TV references – like, what I’m doing right now. She is one of a kind… and I’m thankful to call her my friend.
Day 9: Unexpected Puppies
Several weeks ago, I found a stray beagle puppy while walking my two dogs around our farm. She was pregnant and extremely malnourished, so of course I decided to bring her in. Last night, she delivered eight healthy and absolutely adorable puppies. So, today I’m sincerely thankful that she found me, and that I was able to give her a safe and warm place to care for her puppies. As of now, I plan to foster her and her puppies — hopefully, I will be able to find suitable and happy homes for them when the time comes. She is sweet, kind, well-behaved, and has every quality someone would want in a dog… So, honestly, I might have trouble parting with her. But, for now, I’m thankful to be a part of her life.
Day 10: This Journal
I started this journal because I’ve been struggling with depression. From the outside looking in, my life seems perfect – and, essentially it is, I’m very fortunate. Being depressed doesn’t mean that I have a bad life, it means that I have to live my life in the company of a mental illness. Living with depression isn’t easy… it is debilitating and extremely difficult. Depression can be accompanied by many horrible and uninvited things; thoughts of worthlessness, difficulty in concentration and connectivity, lack of enjoyment in things that are normally enjoyable, decreased concern for personal hygiene, and even thoughts of suicide or self-harm. So, I’m thankful for this journal. Each day, it has forced me to focus on something good, write about it, and share it with the world. Daily, I look around at my life, and select something good… and sometimes I’m surprised by what I select.
Day 11: Veterans
Today is Veterans Day. Today, and everyday, I am thankful for those who have served in the United States Armed Forces. Thank you to those who have served. I am sincerely thankful for the rights, privileges, and freedoms that I have because of you. Happy Veterans Day.
Day 12: Stan Lee
Some of the happiest moments of my life are tethered to the creations of Stan Lee. I’ve spent countless hours in the company of his characters. Stan Lee created a universe where people like me can find comfort and safety. Stan Lee created a universe where being weird, geeky, and different is celebrated. A geeky kid from Queens can be the hero. An unlikely group of mutants can teach tolerance. I’ll forever be thankful for Stan Lee. Today, when I heard the news of his passing, my mind went to a particular memory: in 2016 I was watching a ComicCon panel, and Stan Lee was talking about the X-Men. He said the following; “I love the X-Men, and one of the reasons I came up with the X-Men, was to, in some subtle way, let the readers know that there’s no such thing as somebody who’s bad just because he or she is different.” When I heard those words, in 2016, they made me cry happy tears. Today, they make me cry again. Stan Lee, like his characters, will never be gone. Excelsior.
Day 13: My Pet Chickens
Last year, if you’d told me that I’d be singing to pet chickens, I’d call you crazy. But here I am, singing to pet chickens. My wonderful in-laws recently gave me a couple chickens from their farm. At first I had a lot of reservations about having pet chickens. I mean, I didn’t know the first thing about caring for a chicken… But now, I’m very thankful for them. They are fun, delightful to have around, and they love hearing me sing Broadway ballads. Plus, they force me to leave the house several times a day, which is a blessing when depression strikes: fresh air can be a huge perspective changer. So, today I’m thankful for my pet chickens.
Day 14: Books
In Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel, Evan says “I’m much better at interpreting books and stories than I am at understanding the decisions made by living, breathing people.” This is so extremely true for me. With a book, I can hide from the world while also discovering a new world. I can lean on characters that understand me, while learning from characters that are nothing like me. I can love, explore, expand my understanding, and be changed for the better. As stated in Clockwork Princess; “One must always be careful of books,” said Tessa, “and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.” I’m thankful for books, and I hope they continue to change and mold me.
Day 15: Reading to My Dogs
I am a housewife, my husband works extremely long hours, and I don’t leave the house very often… So, as a result, I don’t speak a lot. I’ve recently realized that this isn’t entirely healthy; never speaking. So, I’ve started reading to my dogs, and I’m really thankful for it. Sure, I talk to my dogs and cat a lot throughout the day, but there is something really special about reading out loud. Plus, my dogs really, really love it. I’m working on self-care, and finding things that improve my mental health; this is a step in the right direction.
Day 16: Music
Music is the most effective item in my mental health tool belt. Anxiety causes me to experience a debilitating state of emotions, but music can alleviate my anxiety. Depression can make me feel worthless and completely alone, but music gives me strength and self-confidence. For example, I listen to Dear Evan Hansen and I feel understood; Evan is fictional, but I’ve never “met” someone who understands me better than him. If grocery shopping makes me anxious, I can listen to Hamilton or Darren Criss and my anxiety fades away. When I’m home, I can throw dance parties with my dogs while listening to Lady Gaga or Glee soundtracks. Music is amazing, and I am sincerely thankful for it.
Day 17: Flash Justice Banks
My husband and I got married in 2013. As a wedding gift, my husband let me have a kitten. I named my new kitten Flash Justice; in honor of Barry Allen (The Flash), member of the Justice League. My husband wasn’t a cat person. At first my husband just tolerated having a cat around, but over the years Flash and my husband have become inseparable. They are best friends, and I love watching how much they love each other. For 5 years, Flash has been a significant member of our family and I’m sincerely thankful for him and the joy he brings us.
Day 18: Charlie Wonder Banks
It’s been 8 days since my last journal entry. This journal was intended to be a daily exercise in thankfulness, so this break was completely unintentional… To be perfectly honest, I haven’t had the motivation. The last week has been tough. Depression crept in, and hit relentlessly. During this time, Charlie (my younger dog), has been a true superhero to me. Charlie has been the best emotional support companion I could ever ask for. I am sincerely thankful for Charlie’s kindness, compassion, and consideration for me. Charlie is capable of reading my emotions and assessing my needs in a fashion that I can’t understand. Charlie makes me feel loved, needed, and important… Charlie loves me so much, it actually makes me love myself.
Day 19: Cinema
I’m thankful for cinema. Watching a film at the cinema is one of my absolute favorite things in the entire world. I sincerely love films, and I’m unapologetic about my geekiness and devotion to them. But this isn’t just about films, this is about the cinema. There is something truly special about watching a film in a cinema. It allows me to feel a combination of pure joy and adrenaline that is unequaled by anything else in my life. Many people think this is odd, they ask, “it’s just a movie, what’s the big deal?” or they see my excitement and say, “it’s a movie, calm down.” But it is a big deal, and I refuse to calm down. I’ll always be jump-up-and-down-excited about the cinema. I’m a geek, and I’ll always demonstrate my affection for the things I love. I buy tickets early, I wear themed outfits to film premiers, I view the same film multiple times in cinemas, and I proudly emote my geekiness. I love the cinema.
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