This is just another way of saying Count Your Cheesy Blessings again, isn’t it? Incidentally, I have worked out why I hate the idea of counting blessings so much: a blessing is something you haven’t earned, a little delightfulness in your day, dropped from the lap of capricious gods. You are supposed to feel grateful for your blessings, and that implies (well it does if you are depressed…) that lucky though you may be you are not deserving. You have no control over when blessings will be bestowed and when they will be withdrawn, and the relationship with these blessings is one of slightly cringing gratitude. Well, in my experience gratitude creates an uncomfortable environment for the Black Dog, but cringing makes him feel right at home. I think I do better when I try instead to be aware of the good things in my life, rather than grateful for them. To savour, recognise, value the goodness of things.
That savouring, that awareness of the sheer goodness of things does not come easily when you are depressed. This is such a defining feature of depression that it has its own name – anhedonia. An inability to feel pleasure. It is like watching a locally anaesthetised limb being stroked with a feather: it is your limb, you know it is being stroked but you don’t feel tickled. I don’t often feel tickled at the moment.
I find it comes when I am absorbed in something else, or when I have relaxed for long enough that my mind begins to wander aimlessly rather than pursuing a goal. Depression makes doing these things difficult. I decided today that it was time to look back over the last few weeks and try to identify the activities that had brought me closest to that state.
I am encouraged. They have all helped, but three of them really stand out: I need, desperately, to take time to listen to myself think every day; I need to plan my days so that I take time to achieve identified goals but also take time to achieve nothing in particular; I need to start making most of the things I have tried out into regular habits so that I get the benefit of more of them more often.
The Dog has not moved out yet, but he does not follow me around quite as – forgive me – doggedly as he did only a few weeks ago when I began this blog. And for this I am truly grateful.