Gratitude and Mental Illness

Does gratitude cure mental Illness? I think not.

As I rise on this green and mild Christmas morning; I can’t help but think about all the things I am grateful for. Perhaps it’s the spirit of the day, the silence of being the first one up, or my first coffee that has called gratitude and mental illness to my attention.

Whatever the cause, I can’t help but think about it from a mental-illness perspective and the misconceptions around it. One thing I hear often when discussing mental illness with people is this: “If you’d just stop and think about all the things you are grateful for, you’ll feel better.” For some of you, I have no doubt that this sounds familiar.

It is in those moments of mindfulness that we can feel how lucky we are.

Although I’m not entirely sure how to accurately explain that PTSD, depression and indeed, any mental health condition doesn’t work that way, I can tell you that It just doesn’t.

See, mental illness and gratitude are two totally separate things – much like the brain and your arm. They are unrelated but one has power over the other. The brain and body also have influence over one another to get things done.

Although the relationship between gratitude and mental illness doesn’t necessarily work in harmony in terms of their differences, they nonetheless impact one another.

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The power of psychiatric disorders is at the root of this impact on gratitude. That being said, your ability to feel grateful oftentimes cannot subdue the disorder you have wreaking havoc within.

Does this mean that one can’t feel gratitude? Of course not. One just needs to cultivate it when being mindful, while zeroing in on the moment. It is in those moments of mindfulness that we can feel how lucky we are.

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When you are temporarily lifted out of the fog, think of the things and people you really appreciate. I find this goes a long way when the overpowering wave of mental illness swallows you whole once more.

So, on this beautiful Christmas morn, I am full of appreciation for all I am lucky to have. And although I am still sick with mental illness, I am in a place where I can take on the day and feel the gratitude that goes with the warmth of being with those you love.

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Categories: Mental Health

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