Maybe I should take inventory every day of my blessings and the things I am thankful for, but since it is the season of thanksgiving I have been reflecting a little extra. It has been difficult this year as it has the past several years.
In 2016 I didn’t even spend Thanksgiving at home. I was at a residential facility in Chicago, Illinois. That was the season I was most thankful for hot coffee. That first sip every morning was the one thing I knew I could look forward to every day. It would send these warm chills through me and seemingly change my perspective for the day. It made each morning worth getting up despite the cold. That brings me to the other thing and person I was thankful for in that season of my life. Chicago is cold, very cold in late November. One of the women I grew to have a relationship with was discharging and gave me her coat and hat. Walking in the cold wasn’t nearly so bad after that.

I will tell you the following to explain why I don’t know what I was thankful for last year. My memory is a little scrambled after having electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). The doctor started out with just one side of my brain receiving shocks, but when that did not seem to work they moved to bilateral shocks. It causes a seizure in the brain which is supposed to change the hardwiring. Unfortunately, I woke up from the last one with no memory of why I was even in the hospital or what I had done. When I came home my doctor continued the ECT treatments in another hospital, and it again was ineffective. Blocks of my life are missing or confused because of this therapy.

This year I heard a message at my church about being thankful for what God has done and who God is. In the message we were told that our response to those two things should be to glorify God and be thankful. Don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful for God and what He has done both for humanity and for me. I am thankful for his goodness even when I struggle to see it, and I do struggle to see it very regularly. With that said, I have thought a lot about what I am thankful for apart from that. I know I should be thankful for a lot, but I struggled with one thought in particular.

I am not thankful for my life. I want to be dead. I try not to think that way. I try to think about my husband and son. I try to think about my friends and family. It doesn’t help. I want to be dead. I have thought so much about ending my life. It’s like second nature to just “go there” on a daily basis. It is a struggle so ingrained in me that I don’t even recognize when it’s a serious thought and my life really is at risk versus when it’s just a rumination.

I am learning, though, in these moments to take a breath and think. I think about why I am feeling this way. I think about what I am feeling. I think about times I have felt this way before. Sometimes I stop thinking and try to feel what is going on in my body. What does it really feel like to have emotions like these. I am thankful for the ability to step back and try to value my life and feelings even when it is hard. I am thankful.

P.S. Don’t mind my Thanksgiving turkey. My family has a sense of humor.

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