Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thank you

"The reason why you are depressed," my mother said, "is because you are not grateful for the things you have in your life."

It was winter of 2008, my freshman year of college.  I was on academic probation and weeks away from taking medical leave.  The way I saw it, I'd been holding in negative emotions for six years due to crappy stuff that had happened to me, and those feelings had finally reached the surface and were ripping me apart.  The way my mother saw it, I was an ungrateful brat who wasn't taking care of herself and didn't want to go to class.  I preferred my version of things.

After taking incompletes for all of my classes, I left college in February 2008 for two semesters of medical leave.  I'd like to say that I spent that entire year getting my act together and everyone else was magically fixed when I returned to college in January of 2009.  That's partially true.  I spent that year in therapy and worked a couple of jobs.  One was as a canvasser for a grassroots political campaign, and the other was at a women's clothing store.  I met a lot of interesting people at both of those jobs, and I learned what it meant to have a real (read: crappy, minimum wage) job.

My grandmother was living with us at the time while she received treatment for cancer.  She passed away in February of 2009, a few weeks after I returned to school.

Sophomore year was substantially better.  I moved to off-campus housing, made some really great friends, and began taking writing (and my studies in general) more seriously.  Still, that year was tinged with two heartbreaks--one small, one massive.  I longed for a new environment, a chance to start over.  I filled out an application for a year-long study abroad program in Taiwan...and the rest as they say, is history.

The last week has been a major perspective shift for me.  I tend to get down on myself easily, and with the frustrations of living in a different culture and the weather (we haven't had any sun in about a month in Taipei) has made being happy a struggle.

The final straw came on Friday, when I spent six hours running around trying to process my visa.  I wanted to give up.  But then I remembered my life.  My mom, my friends here and back home, and my new blog followers.  And I've been reading Tahereh Mafi's blogThe RejectionistSingle Dad Laughing, and my lovely new followers' blogs.  These people (and you all) have inspired and challenged me and forced me to dig deep about myself, this blog, and my life.  And I've realized something:

My writing is not for me.  This blog is not for me.  It's for you.  It's for the visitors and followers who haven't arrived yet.

I've spent this week coming up with a list of things that I really, truly, am grateful for.

There's the obvious ones, like my family, my friends, and my health.

But there are also things like: The Jim Henson Company, The Walt Disney Company, and Pixar Studios.  Kermit the Frog and "The Great Mouse Detective" helped make my childhood magical.
Eggs.  Eggs are delicious.
The internet.  It has allowed me to start this blog, read your lovely blogs, and talk with my mom on Skype.
Oh.  My. God.  BOOKS.  So good.
The understanding that every day is a chance to get it right.

I am grateful for these things, and all of you.

Have an amazing week, everyone!

1 comment:

  1. I know that everyone likes to tell everyone else why they are depressed. Some have narrowed it down to chemical imbalance in the brain. This is a very scientific explanation as essentially, we are all big walking bags of chemicals (mostly water) but a lot of other stuff swirling around.

    What works for me in describing depression is just being down about your lot in life. And I think that's normal. Feeling unfulfilled, unsatisfied with the way things are going, not getting feedback or not getting any kind of validation from others, feeling ignored...those are all things that (in my humble opinion) people are justified in feeling depressed about. By just saying, "You are not thankful for the things you have" does you no justice because I believe people should always strive for more. True, it is important to look at the positive and not always covet what someone else has. But at the same time, that is how we become ambitious. The danger lies in when we cannot obtain what we want. At that point, you need to step back and say, "I'm grateful for what I have". But never stop trying, you know?

    I'm sorry if I ramble, but you seem like a very intelligent young woman and I wanted to chime in on your thoughts you wrote down here. Have a good day and keep telling yourself that you are wonderful.