Well, the onslaught of negative news and hate-filled screeds continues in both the news (and by which I mean in actual news and things which pretend to be news) and social media, and so I thought in the spirit of the holiday season, I would try and post something. I am not, by nature, a hugely optimistic person, so I’m hoping this will be received in the spirit in which it is meant, and not necessarily in the manner in which it is written if I occasionally stray off-message. MY big idea here is to just try and post a list of various things, people, groups and whatnot that I am grateful to, whether recently, over the last several years, or for long-term things. I will almost certainly forget some things or people, and for that I apologize; my memory is not exactly a steel trap, and if you feel you have been missed, I will edit this entry to add you. For many people, the entry will be rather vague, since I don’t want to ‘out’ any of my friends with mental illness issues of their own unless they feel comfortable being named. I’m not going for any particular order, save that in which things or people come to me, so don’t feel slighted if you’re somewhat farther down the list; my brain makes connections that are sometimes very strange. With that preface, let the gratitudinousness commence!
- First and foremost, I am grateful to my parents for their love, support, and trust over the past years, in not freaking out when I moved to Texas, supporting my move into an MSW program, and generally being very cool with what my life has become over the past years.
- I am grateful to my sister, brother-in-law, and 1-yer-old niece for being there to talk to, and as supportive and helpful as they can be, and for being good family members and people in general.
- I am grateful to all my pre-Menninger friends who have chosen to keep me in their lives, however far apart we may be; I know that being my friend through all my years of depression cannot have been easy, and I appreciate all you’ve done and all the times you have been there for me.
- I am grateful to my extended family – uncles, aunts, grandparents, and other relatives – as well, for not excluding or rejecting me because of my problems; I’ve seen and heard many stories where family has deserted someone suffering from mental illness, and I’m grateful to not have a family like that.
- I am grateful to all of those friends I met in treatment, both in Menninger, in the step-down, and continuing on after that. There are quite a few of you, and I wish I could keep in closer contact with you; you are all great people who helped me realize I was not alone, and I want to let you know that I appreciate it and want to be there for you if I can.
- I am grateful to Alice, who I can name, because she was a good friend and a very welcoming part of my stay at Menninger, and I will always remember her fondly. I wish she had not left so soon.
- I am grateful to Calla, who I have spoken of here repeatedly, because even though things did not work out well, for a short time they were great, and being around her made me realize that happiness and joy were things I was still really capable of.
- I am grateful to (and if you want me to remove names I will) my co-workers at the bookstore, among them James, Lindsay, Jamie, Catherine, David, Rosie, Jacques, and many more; while the life of a bookseller may not be a glamorous one, I have never felt excluded or that I was not a part of the store, and that means a great deal to me. I have been lucky to find a job where I feel good talking to my co-workers and that I will be supported by the managers.
- I am grateful to the staff at Menninger, at the step-down program, and to my therapist, because without them to help me, teach me, and give me some guidance, I don’t think I would be where I am today.
- I am grateful to USC for letting me into their online MSW program, which I’ve recently finished my first semester with (did really well, too). It’s a big change for me, and I hope that when I am done I can go on and help others who have had similar mental health issues because of what I learn in the program.
- I am grateful to the authors who inspire me, whether they are in work related to my prospective field (such as Brene Brown), to my former area of expertise (J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, among others), or purely fictional works (David Gemmell and Elizabeth Moon, to name a few) because even in times when I feel like there is very little to be hopeful for, I can turn to their works and realize that even people who have been through darker things than I can find the light.
- I’m grateful to all sorts of media, really, for helping me to find ways to express myself, to vent or channel my feelings, to inspire myself, find hope, feel encouraged, or find characters to emulate – or even just lose myself in entertainment for a while when things get too hairy. Movies, books, music, video games, there are all sorts of titles I could name, and many of them I have in my blog over the past two years.
- I am grateful for my time as an atheist, because I think it taught me a great deal – like, among other things, that it is entirely possible for a person to be moral and good without belief in God – and I am grateful to my return to faith, for what it has taught me about spirituality, belief, and hope. I don’t know that I’ll ever be a member of any particular branch of Christianity again, and I can’t think of anybody weird enough to go along with my beliefs, but I’m willing to discuss them if you are.
- I’m grateful for Facebook, despite the hate a lot of social media gets; it has allowed me to keep in touch, and get back in touch with, many people whom I would otherwise not get a chance to talk to ordinarily, and who have often proven to have remarkable insights, as well as awesome senses of humor.
That’s my list for now, and it may well expand as things come to me; this is a pretty early list – just what came to me as I sat down and banged this entry out, so please don’t feel offended if it doesn’t look like you fit into one of the above listings. If you would prefer that I actually name you, or that I remove your name, let me know, as well. Above all, as this season continues, whether you are Christian or Jewish, Muslim or Hindu, atheist or agnostic, or anything else (got any Pastafarians out there?), remember the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln, as spoken to Bill S. Preston, Esquire, and Ted Theodore Logan: “Be excellent to each other. And… PARTY ON, DUDES!”