When you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic condition like MS, it can be hard not to give in to feelings of depression. After receiving this life-changing news, I felt as though my days were now filled with pain and coming to terms with a long list of things I was unable to do anymore.
This kind of sadness is such a horrid thing to experience. The feelings creep up on you and can make you feel like life is dark and hopeless. That you are somehow too weak or less deserving of happiness than everybody else is. It brings all your past disappointments and suffering to the fore, and tries desperately to convince you that your future will be no different.
But that’s just not true.
I wanted to write this article to remind you that you can overcome these feelings. Sometimes these feelings are exaggerated, like an imaginary monster in your wardrobe. So let’s call its bluff. Let’s switch the lights on, open the wardrobe, and confront it head on.
One thing I know that helps me overcome these feelings is practising gratitude. I have a notebook next to my bed and try to fill out one page every night. I start by writing a small paragraph that sums up my day, which then helps me to find five things to be grateful for. And when I find them, I really take my time to ponder them until they put smile on my face.
You can do this too. Don’t get me wrong, I realise that everybody has a different definition of what an accomplishment is. But when you have a chronic condition to contend with, like me, even the smallest of achievements are important and should be noted.
You can also include things that happen around you - like a pretty sunset, a compliment from a stranger, a catch up with an old friend, or even when your favourite band releases a new album.
Refocus on the positives
Once you find these things to be grateful for, really meditate on them. Build practising gratitude into your daily routine and make it a non-negotiable part of your to-do list.
Never leave the house without a shower? Make gratitude that important.
Never go to bed without practising. Do it with all your strength and conviction.
Remember falling in love? Everything in that new relationship feels amazing because you’re only concentrating on all the incredible features you love about that person. Gratitude works in the same way because you are constantly reminding yourself how blessed your life actually is
Practise makes perfect
I understand that practising gratitude might seem difficult at first, but it does get easier over time. Some days are fine but other days I struggle.
Those days when you’re feeling low and don’t feel like practising, are probably the most crucial times to do it. Those are the days when you need to remind yourself of all the positive things in your life – regardless how small.
In my personal experience, my depressive feelings had a beginning, a middle and yes, an end. For me, they did pass. I didn’t allow the feelings of sadness to steal my hopes and dreams. I didn’t allow past experiences to determine how my future would pan out – even after my MS diagnosis.
So, try and give feelings of depression the boot. Call them out for what they are. An exaggeration of horrible things that have happened to you in the past.
Focus on the things that you are grateful for instead. Prove that your life is filled with the joy that the feelings of sadness often makes you forget about. Believe me, you will completely change your mind set if you are constantly focusing on the positives in your life.
UK/MED/19/0228 September 2019