THE MISCONCEPTION OF GRATITUDE
We are often misunderstood for being ungrateful. The misconception of our perception is not the lack of gratitude, but rather a misdirection of our understanding or perhaps, a misuse of the word gratitude. First let’s break down the meaning of depression versus sadness. The definition of depression is a mental disorder (not a state of being), characterized by at least two weeks of a persuasive low mood. The definition of sadness (a state of being) is similar to depression; however, the one common difference is in the length of time. The feeling of sadness may last for a day or two, but to classify as depression, it would extend for at least two weeks or more.
You may be thinking to yourself, I don’t see the difference, but there is, and people suffering with depression know this. When you have depression, you may know what your cycle is – two weeks, three weeks or a month of depression is harder to accept than knowing that if you’re sad, it is only temporary and you will probably be feeling better by the next day or a situation may help to curb your sadness almost immediately. For example, a trip outside to get some fresh air or a drive to the ice cream shop.
Subsequently, living with depression isn’t as simple. Acute depression is exhausting and terrifying. Facing weeks of depression at a time puts a physical toll on your body, as well as an emotional toll on your mental health. It has the ability to negatively affect your social life, relationships, school or job performance, and your health. Even during your moments of “happiness” you’re worrying about when your depression will come back and if you have the strength to go through the long haul of dragging yourself out of the dark hole you are inhabiting.
So, when someone tells us that we need to find gratitude in the simple things in life, we do. Each day is a constant reminder to ourselves that we are grateful – grateful for the people who love us, for making it through another day, our warm beds, and the food and shelter we have been blessed with. It is not our lack of gratitude that casts us out as negative thinkers, but it is the deceiver, called depression. This is the cause of our inability to show gratitude. A typical day while in a depressive state is convincing ourselves how incredibly blessed, we truly are, and calling out the liar to its face: and its name is depression.