Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Video: Depression and Gratitude

I know that the Thanksgiving holiday is all about gratitude. But what if you can’t get there just yet? What if you’re encased in fear, and listing your blessings only deepens your depression because you feel like a loser, a whiner, a spoiled brat of an American for not feeling truly grateful?I know this sounds unpatriotic and totally self-absorbed but this is what I say: don’t sweat it. You’re not there yet. It’s okay.One day you will be, and your gratitude won’t be forced.I wish all my readers a very happy Thanksgiving holiday–those who are at a place in their recovery where they feel truly grateful, and those who aren’t capable of compiling that list just yet.To view my YouTube video, click here.

Click here to subscribe to Beyond Blue and click here to follow Therese on Twitter and click here to join Group Beyond Blue, a depression support group. Now stop clicking.

  • Nancy

    Therese – That was beautiful, and I am so very glad that you chose the format you did for your “Thanksgiving Message”.
    You are so right with the saying that people use so commonly about counting our blessings and “feeling” grateful. What a loser I felt like and a waste of a human being and a horrible person when at my loweest times, knowing there were things to be grateful for, I could not muster up any genuine feeling to match it.
    I know that there’s a saying, “Fake it ’till you make it”; however, that can be misconstrued. True depression and the depths of it, when in the midst of the horrors of it can not just be faked out of (at least for me). Yes, there were times where I put on smiles (temporarily) for the kids, etc., but I had to have certain people and places (safe ones) where I could finally be allowed to express where I actually was.
    You are right on the point of forcing it to such a degree that it can be harmful. It’s not unpatriotic or self-absorbed to say what you said. It was a loving statment, reaching out to those who are in that dark abyss, trying to hang on a moment at a time.
    With all of the kidding we do and lightheartedness on certain posts and comments, we all know how serious this topic is and the horrible ramifications that can occur if left untreated or mistreated.
    I’m sure that your video will provide many readers with perhaps a sigh of relief that it’s okay to be where they are. Not that it’s enjoyable for them, but not to beat themselves up with a bat (used to be my greatest sport) for not being where they think they “should” be.

  • Lynn

    You are truly one of the most generous and careing people I have ever known. It is a privilage to be a part of this site and to share with you. Your bravery in opening your whole life to us is, there are no words for it,I extend my hope, to you and your beautiful family, for a great holiday and continued abundance, blessing and health. Happy Thanksgiving Therese. :)

  • Larry Parker

    OK, off to Gitmo with you ;-P
    Therese, I joked about you being “nakedly honest” with your posts about life in the bedroom with Eric. But with your unadorned sincerity and the way you opened yourself up in a very raw, honest way from the heart in this video, I’d say you just — in the words of a famous cook, fittingly on Turkey Day — “kicked it up a notch.”
    Happy Thanksgiving to you, Eric and kids.

  • Wendi

    This was just beautiful, Therese. Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving. :)

  • Jim G

    Have a good Turkey day weekend everyone.
    A well deserved rest for most people – although some have to work.
    I am thankful for Wellbutrin XL. Tom Cruise eat your heart out.
    And I will say some prayers for all the folks who are not feeling so well. It can be a tough time of year as it gets cold for a lot of folks, and we tend to get less excercise and less sun, which can start the SAD depression. I am speaking from experience as I have not excercised in about 3 weeks. One week sick, working tiring me out, it being colder and harder to motivate to go hiking/jogging after work, and miscellaneous other distractions. But excercise we must – it is time to unpack the warm sweaters, hats, and gloves for those who havn’t done so, to adjust to this time of year. No guts no glory.
    And I will say some prayers that those who may not have found their best match for an antidepressant or antidepressants, may have the courage and wherewithawal to experiment with other ones in the case something they havn’t tried yet works better than what they have tried.
    It will be a good four days to destress, meditate, excercise, and rest.

  • Sandy Slaga

    Dear Therese,
    What a gift you continue to be in my life and the lives of so many others!
    Having been in the place you describe so poignantly, I applaud your message. The heavy weight of depression need not be compounded by the guilt of not sharing in others’ gratitude.
    I am grateful for you, my fellow travelers on this journey and for the medications which have saved my life.

  • Cindy

    Therese, I love the video on graditute. I, like you, have so much that I don’t know where to begin… why is it that I feel so lousy??? Doesn’t compute….I was recently diagnosed with Bipolar II and started taking Lamictal (sp). Before, I was just treated with plain old depression……, it’s Bipolar. Some how or other, the “label” makes me so sad. One thing, at least now I understand why the antidepressents weren’t effective. Hopefully that I’m on the right medication, I can truly be grateful and it not sound phony.
    Thanks for listening everyone.
    Blessing on a wonderful Thanksgiving

  • Kay

    What exactly is Thanksgiving? I am from the Mediterranean and dont know what Thanksgiving means to you and its significance.

  • Wisdum

    Happy Thanksgiving !… Father Yahewh
    How are You today ?
    May I offer all that I am to You, let me say
    As I go along this uncertain merry Way
    And may this day be a testament of Truth
    For all that we are, and ever be, in You
    May all our Love, cry out in song
    As we hold each other’s hand as we go along
    To build on earth this Kingdom of God
    Though sometimes our building seems very odd
    We raise it all up in praise, to tear it down another day
    How in this Hell, does it really pay?
    But all that we are, and all that we Be
    Is the product of You setting us “Free”
    To do what we will, and what we may say
    Let it be from us All to You,
    a Happy…Thanksgiving Day !

  • Sharon

    Happy Thanksgiving to all,
    I guess I opened this message right when I needed it because the above written by Therese is absolutely where I’m at. QUOTE:
    I know that the Thanksgiving holiday is all about gratitude. But what if you can’t get there just yet? What if you’re encased in fear, and listing your blessings only deepens your depression because you feel like a loser, a whiner, a spoiled brat of an American for not feeling truly grateful. One day you will be, and your gratitude won’t be forced.
    I have been crying since yesterday morning and feeling super sensitive, extremely emotional and it’s frustrating. I am grateful but it appears to be forced right now because my heart and emotions are not in sync. Our family on my mom’s side is small but very dysfunctional and no one knows how to maintain healthy relationships so Thanksgiving dinner was pulled from under the rug two days ago and everyone has an attitude, especially my mom. I know she grieving the loss of her only son and me my only brother and I don’t know how to help her and she doesn’t know how to help me. But it seems everything you say she snaps, if you don’t do what she wants when she wants it she snaps and the worst is she doesn’t realize, she’d rather say never mind you don’t have to take me to the store, she doesn’t drive but then she’ll end the comment with something sarcastic to instill guilt on you. It’s just crazy and my nephew is here from GA visiting and we haven’t seen him since his last birthday when he turned 3 and he’s now 4, he was my brother’s only son and he’s a complete replica of my brother all over again and that hurts and is painful. But instead of be grateful and happy to see him everyone’s on edge and I’ve decided to just stay in my apartment today, with my teen and we can do a movie or eat take out or something, I just don’t have the energy to fight. My mom had already purchased food and started preparing before the big dinner was canceled so she’s still cooking at her place what she was going to take to my aunts but she’s making it so uncomfortable I don’t want to go there and eat. I offered to pay half of what she’s spent and she refused. I tried because she was off all week and I worked and have to work tomorrow so all I could do is contribute financially in part and take her to the store for what she needs. That’s usually how it goes anyway, I would make one dish but she hasn’t spoken to me since yesterday so I don’t even know if she wants me to still make it? She wanted me to take her to the store yet again when I got off yesterday and I told her I would let her know since I was very stressed and crying all day I gave myself a migraine. Also, I’ve been weening off Effexor and as of Sunday have been without cold turkey and having dizzy spells. I know some would disagree with my decision to stop the meds but I feel it’s in my best interest. This past year I’ve gained 30lbs since taking this medication and supposedly weight gain is not a side effect. Well, for me that’s disaster because I had gastric bypass 4yrs ago and lost 126lbs and have maintained very well until my brother’s death and the meds started. I saw my surgeon and he agrees that’s likely what caused the weight gain. I did a year of talk therapy along with the meds and my therapists treatment plan is after a year you should be starting to put to practice some of the tools learned in session and get your life back on track. She did offer an open door policy if I felt I needed more sessions and yesterday I called her to take her up on that. Perhaps a few sessions will help while this medication leaves my system, it seems harder getting off then getting adjusted to them when I started. So I think that’s where all the crying is coming from to add to all the chaos. My psychiatrists stated when I first brought this to her attention about stopping and she said I was in control of the meds and I could only be the judge of how I handled lessoning the dose and it’s been gradual over the past two months and now I’m trying to go cold turkey. We’ll see, I just don’t know what else to do about the weight gain because that’s a bigger fear of failure and contributes to my depression. I was taking Wellbutrin XL before I had the surgery because of depression and how unhappy I was with myself which led to the decision and the results were perfect. My brother’s murder was like a rug being pulled from under my feet and the depression, anxiety and stress came back tenfold.
    Anyways, I feel I’m rambling now and I just wanted to wish everyone here a healthy and safe holiday season.
    God Bless,

  • lapatosu

    I like Thanksgiving, because it is a day off from the usual routine, at the start of the dark days of winter. But when did it become a patriotic holiday, and if you don’t celebrate it, you’re unpatriotic?
    Sharon – Sending you strength in the next year, and hoping you find some peace.

  • Nancy

    Sharon –
    I am sorry for the loss of your brother. Unfortunately it is normal for the holidays to amplify any loss we’ve endured. It can bring out the worst or the best in people, depending upon the dynamics of who is involved. Family relationships are difficult. I had many years of difficiulty with setting any boundaries with my “family of origin” – the psycho-therapy term. You can tell by using that phrase along, I needed and got help in this area.
    I wanted and needed (not a good thing) their approval. There was a great deal of manipulation and guilt. I very well could imagine the scenario you described. Perhaps your Mother gets a pass on this because of the loss of her son; however, her grief does not give anyone carte blanche to be hurtful or recklass with their attitude and/or words.
    That type of behavior was directed at me for many years, and when my father passed away over 7 years ago, I eventually had to present things to my mother in a form that would make her accountable for her words and actions.
    The “Get Out of Jail Free” card for her could only last for so long, and with the history that I had, her behavior and attitude was in place long before my father passed away.
    We cannot change how others operate, act or respond. We can only do that for ourselves. But, that does not mean that should they choose to continue in their harmful ways, that there are no consequences. Not in a punishment sort of manner, but as for myself in a self-caring manner. That is a big difference from self-centeredness.
    I still have to set those boundaries. Perhaps the way you have spent this day is exactly how it should be in the best nterest for all, yourself included. Nothing can make me crazier than “trying to figure someone else out” as you mentioned in your post. I could run in circles like a dog gone mad trying to get the answers. They will not come. That is because I do not act or think like my brother and mother do. I am not putting myself up in some ivory tower of sainthood. They are extremely difficult and emtotionally vicious harmful people must of the time.
    Having said that, along with a number of situations that transpired with my brother in business this year (family businesses are quite a challenge), and my health deteriorating so rapidly from numerous chronic illnesses, my husband and I decided we were not getting together for the phony baloney stuff this year.
    Fortuantely our boys, ages 22 and 19, know the history and also know how ill I am, where their reply to hanging out at home and bringing in a catered dinner and watching football was like hitting the lottery. So, it was no loss to them.
    I have had many years of wanting to throw up through family holiday get togethers. Some others were suprisingly good. It’s a day at a time; a holiday at a time.
    Good luck on your well-being if you feel you are better of being done with the Effexor. When I began the Effexor myself, I was told by my Doctor that I would not have weight gain as a side effect. Wrong. I gained over 30 pounds, plus I have a mult-faceted chronic illness that will not allow me to exercise one iota. I used to run. I can barely walk these days. So all in all the weight gain has surpassed astronimcal numbers as I’ve outgrown 6 clothes sizes. This is someone here writing who was nearly anorexic in past years.
    I hate the weight gain. My husband is very supportive. But I know for me, I could not change the medication for now. I went through a phase of trial and error repeatedly for l l/2 years with the depression relapse until the somewhat manageable “cocktail mix” (no – no alcohol) brought me back from the brink of suicide.
    I am still gaining weight. My husband works from the house also these days, so he sees my intake of food and cannot believe the situation himself, as he knows I do not eat anywhere what it would take to be the weight I am.
    I am too afraid to change anything though. But that’s me. I’m at a place where my health and brain are so compromised that I couldn’t chance it.
    I felt so guilty and shameful when the weight started piling on. I am very self-conscious outside of the home at times; particularly when I see people who haven’t seen me for a while. I bring it up when discussing what’s going on with my illness. I’m sure it’s so that the “white elephant” in the room (no pun intended), does not go without acknowledgment.
    I knew I was gaining alot of weight when my husband told me in his very loving and supportive way that “he loves me for the person I am”. Uh-oh, that’s fat. I’ve never been that “f” word.
    So, I hope that you realize on his holiday and everyday, you are not alone in experiencing all of the thoughts, feelings and relationship happenings that we all experience with our different stories and backgrounds.

  • Nancy

    Please excuse all of my typos. I have a habit of writing quickly and hitting the “post” button” just as quickly, without reviewing my spelling and phrasing!

  • Larry Parker

    Happy Thanksgiving (anyway).
    Nancy commented well in empathizing with the tragic disruptions caused in your family by your brother’s death. I can only sympathize, as my sister is alive and somewhat well (albeit with a chronic disease like her brother). So I just wanted to say something short about Effexor.
    Of course it is your decision about whether to take a given medication or not. However, Effexor has the worst withdrawal symptoms of any psychiatric medications (and many have some fairly bad ones). In fact, my psychiatric provider had to give me ANOTHER PRESCRIPTION just to get through it.
    I’m a little puzzled why your psychiatrist/doctor encouraged you to begin withdrawing at what he/she had to know would be an unbelievably stressful time for you. In any case, what’s done is done, so I would just encourage you to be as easy on yourself as possible and know that there is a physical cause for the extra stress you are feeling as well as the general tension of the holidays and the mourning of your brother’s passing.
    (My condolences, of course.)

  • Sharon

    Thank you Nancy, you almost sounded like kinfolk for a second or two in your post, LOL. And I too tend to write really fast and hit that button and then immediately almost the errors are glaring at me and I think OMG. You know your conditions far better than I do and you have to do what’s right for you.
    Larry, I thank you too, you touched on a couple things that I’ve heard from other groups here where weening off Effexor was a challenge. One woman today told me after she finally stopped completely she had those dizzy spells I’m having for about 6wks and afterwards she was fine. I am very fearful of having dangerous repercussions getting this out of my system and I’m struggling big time. When I first brought it up to my doctor after about 6 or 7mos I don’t remember, she said that was way too early and she said you needed to be on for at least a year or more. She did tell me from her research that this drug is supposed to be a lifelong maintennance drug although not habit forming. When I shared with her about my concern with the weight gain she suggested a hypnotist? So I decided to follow her instruction and give it more time. This past August was a year and I approached her again like in Sept. about my concerns and the weight was affecting me because of my fear of going backwards after the gastric bypass. Her response was what I posted earlier that only I have control over the meds and I would know how the effects would be at lower doses. I was up to 225mg which was 3 pills a day. I then went down to the 150mg at 2 pills a day and this past month is when I decided to try the 75mg at one pill a day. Each time I felt the effects I got scared and went back up until recent. My biggest fear is dependency and that’s a luxury I cannot afford after 15yrs in, if you know what I mean. So aside from that and the weight gain I don’t know what else to do but stick it out and pray that this too shall pass. I even asked her to switch me back to the Wellbutrin XL and she said that just substituting one for the other and she didn’t see the sense in that. She’s the 3rd psychiatrist I’ve seen and they tend to concern me, no disrespect if anyone here is that status. The funny thing is I work in a hospital and I the Recruiter for all the Behavioral Health & Psychiatry Depts. so I’ve become very knowledgeable and have researched and questioned alot and seeking guidance as I go through this. Nothing is promised and I have heard the up sides as well as down and I’m a fighter and I’m just hoping I land on my feet. I’m planning to go back to therapy too while I detoxing and hopefully that will help and I keep a good watch on my vitals and such so just pray for me and if I crash then I guess I will have to accept I may become a lifetime member? I know I have been crying so much today my body aches and that’s not something I like at all. I’m the type that wants to conquer a problem and move on but grief and loss along with a dysfunctional family has proven I have to surrender and not fight as much or hard. So for now it’s one day at a time with this and I’m hoping to give you guys a praise report that the dizziness has stopped and the crying bouts are down to a minimum.
    Thanks again for you enlightenment.

  • Brenda

    My daughter struggles with Bipolar and has since she was 9 years old. I read everything that I can get my hands on including this web site, I’m constantly printing out the quotes and putting them in her space so she can read them. One thing that I’ve never been able to do is relate to her illness, how she sees things, how she is feeling, or thinking. She struggle a lot with friends, school, stress, worrying, many other things, she has been on several different medications and still is being challenged with this as I’m writing. The world is much different for people like my daughter, I only wish I had the knowledge to help with the depression, the mood swings, I try to be encouraging and supportive at all times, (it can be overwhemling)some days I wonder about if she will ever be successful and overcome her disability. Thanks for letting me read all the inspiring comments made here in my attempt to believe that my daughter will make it.
    Ms. B

  • Elizabeth

    I want to thank Therese for her video about depression and gratitude. I think it is such an important message for those who are experiencing depression. When I read it I kept thinking she(Therese) understands what it feels like-and of course she does!
    When I was suffering from a serious depression I felt so guilty I could not feel grateful for anything in my life and it made things worse. I am better now and I feel so grateful for so many people and things in my life. The people and things have not changed but I don’t have to force being grateful because that terrible sadness that takes away your gratitude has lifted.

  • Jim G

    Hi Sharon:
    I am posting this comment belatedly, but in case you go back to re-read comments…
    I quit Celexa cold turkey when I cut my HMO bill out of my budget. I always had trouble quitting anti depressants as I didn’t know about SSRI discontinuation syndrome (withdrawal.) The symptoms of SSRI discontinuation syndrome are the same as the symptoms of depression, so you don’t know if it’s the chicken or the egg – and you end up wanting to go back on the SSRI and not quit it as you feel horrible.
    It took me 4 weeks I think it was to get through SSRI discontinuation syndrome.
    So hang in there. For Ms. B — it is a great idea to print out of copy/paste supportive comments as it does take a while to accept having a “mental illness.” I put quotations because with proper treatment it doesn’t have to be experienced as an illness. And with some luck I guess as not everyone fares as well as some with regards to treatments (namely medication(s).) There are many highly functioning folks with depression and manic depression and probably some even with schizophrenia. If you have bipolar you become focused just on that and you are prejudiced probably towards others. Which explains why folks undiagnosed with a “mental illness” are prejudiced towards all of us – they just aren’t focused on our problems as they are concerned with their own, which is natural.
    And this stigma and ignorance is perhaps one of the biggest problems once you do get the best treatment for you. So many of us don’t go public with our disorder. I’ve found the less people you tell that you have it the better. But then you can come to online support forums and blogs like this one to get info and support, anonymously.
    Make sure your daughter googles “famous bipolar” and “famous depression” to see the list of supposed famous folks with mental disorders. Some of course are historical guesses. But the ones living now still or who lived not too long ago in history have probably been officially diagnosed and went public with the diagnosis. Creativity seems to be a hallmark of mood disorders for some reason. I wonder if it might be because if certain parts of the brain aren’t doing so well, other parts compensate. Who knows though…

  • Jim G

    p.s. Sharon, I consider myself highly functioning I guess. Although that is probably debatable, LOL. Certainly functioning. And I was diagnosed first unipolar depression then a few years later bipolar I which is the strongest grade. But I improved and experienced more of a BP II or III. And now with Wellbutrin XL (the only med I take) in some ways I’m better than ever. I am functioning or highly functioning, but there are a few glitches that remain. One is that my memory hasn’t improved – it has definately taken a hit. The other is that I am attracted to a lot of women that I should not be so attracted to seeing that I am married, which I think is some hypersexuality which can be a symptom.
    Other than that things are peachy most of the time. I of course still get a few downer thoughts now and then but nothing like when I was not getting the best Rx for me.

  • Jim G

    oops that last comment was directed to Ms B not Sharon.

  • Larry Parker

    For anyone interested in reading about someone famous with bipolar disorder — I highly recommend Jane Pauley’s autobiography “Skywriting.” Just wonderful.
    Jim G.:
    Please don’t persist in the myth that bipolar disorder type II “isn’t as bad” as bipolar disorder type I.
    In some ways it’s worse (and it’s not just my doctors who have said that), as you get all the lows — even lower, actually — without any of the corresponding feelings of joy of true mania, dysfunctional and even delusional though they may be.

  • Your Name

    Thankyou for this video! To those of us who suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) or even reoccuring depression this time of the yr and with the Holidays it is nice to hear something like this. It is hard to hear everyone spouting off words of gratitude when you are feeling down or sad. This was like giving us permission, making it ok when we feel we aren’t up to par with the rest of the World. I PRAY that your Holiday/Thanksgiving is a good one. I attempted a previous post and when I went to the Captcha at the bottom it had expired, resulting in my not being able to post, ahhhh. So this is my 2nd attempt at sending you love and thanks for inspiring me and other readers here at Beyond Blue. Some thanksgiving humor for you:
    Please do NOT feed the Turkey, they are stuffed already! ha
    Blessed Be, Mary Anne

  • jazmine

    hmmmm,it started with my mum i was about three or four when the violent temper kicked in and her hatred towards me was in full swing, i will not go in to to much as it slows me down as a person,
    today i have my own little girle who rocks my world and some times not,we live in the usa and mum is in england so we use the web cam to say hi ,my mum had noticed how loveing my little one is with me and how that love is given back,and the then she said i was not a loveing child, she still has no clue as to the damage she had don during those early years ,the words hurt so i talked to a close friend and my friend said if you have never been shown love you will not know how to give it and if you have been given hatred and malles you will shy away from the person being so hatefull my mothers words still sit in the back of my mind ,and yes some times i to get depressed on and off for years .i am thankfull that i have a loveing family know.


    I have for many years suffer 365 days a year every night after the sun go down my body hurt from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. Depression takes over. I load up with pain pills and about 20 other perscription med to get through the night. My life has been messed up very bad.

  • jazmine

    robby, all is not lost look to what you can have open your heart and arms and let some one in they may surprise you .
    take each day as it comes and find one thing that goes well for you in each day and keep it with you through the nights and slowly your life will make sence ,ps exuse my spelling im lazy.
    you can make you work you just have to find the right buttons to push.

  • Jill

    I totally agree with you Therese, nobody should try and force people to feel things that you just can’t right now, they (the feelings) will come in time. I forgave my mom for a bunch of things…we talk all of the time now and same with my Grandma, I called her for the first time in about a year and a half last month and even sent her a present for her 80th birthday.

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