Overcoming Suicidal Pain

Being Grateful When You Feel Depressed

“Count your blessings, not your crosses,
Count your gains, not your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes,
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Covet your health, not your wealth.”


One of the most effective mental health recovery tools I have encountered is practicing gratitude.  At first, the idea of practicing gratitude when being depressed may not make sense. I have heard clients tell me–”I am in the hell of depression–what do I have to be thankful about?” My answer is that if you look hard, you will find something. For example, you might identify a few simple blessings, such as,  “The sun is shining,” “I have a roof over my head,” “I have enough to eat,” My body is in reasonable health,” “I have a good friend,” “I feel love for my child,” and so on.

When we give thanks, we automatically focus our attention on what is working in our life instead of what is not working. This shift in perception actually changes brain chemistry and counteracts the negative thinking that is the hallmark of depression. Perhaps this is why a wise man said, “When you learn to love hell, you will be in heaven.”

What would it be like if you began each day by asking, “What is beneficial in my life right now? What can I be grateful for? What or who is working to support me in my health and healing?” There is a spiritual law that says, whatever you focus on expands. As you pay more attention to the good in your life, you will notice more and more of that good–and through the law of attraction, you will attract more good to you.

Expressing gratitude does not mean denying pain or uncomfortable feelings. It doesn’t mean that you’re not in the darkness. But it does help you to recognize those points of light that exist in the darkness.

Try this gratitude exercise. At the end of the day, write down an event that went well, or something you are grateful for (see if you can come up with three). Do this for 21 days. At the end of three weeks, you may feel a bit lighter or more optimistic. To support this process, you can place something by your bedside (an object, a photograph, an affirmation, etc.) that helps to instill a feeling of gratitude. As you set aside time each day to give thanks, you will notice the presence of grace even during difficult times.

I wish you the best in your healing journey.

Overcoming Suicidal Pain

It Takes More Than a Pill to Heal From Depression

If there is one thing that I learned from my depressive episode, it is this—that it takes more than a pill to heal from depression. When I tried antidepressants, either they did not reduce my depression substantially, or I could not endure their side effects Thus, I had to explore other ways to treat my symptoms.

I am not alone. According to a government study published in 2006, Antidepressants fail to cure the symptoms of major depression in half of all patients with the disorder even if they receive the best possible care. Thus, other self-care modalities should be combined with antidepressant therapy.

It makes sense to look at depression holistically. Since depression is a disorder of the body, mind and spirit, then it most be addressed using a body-mind-spirit recovery program. As Dr. Andrew Weil states:

“To optimize the function of the healing system, you must do everything in your power to improve physical health, mental/emotional health, and spiritual health…One must see the whole picture of health, and understand the importance of working on all fronts”

An example of this integrative approach can be seen in the way we approach heart disease. If you went to a cardiologist and wanted to know how to prevent a heart attack (or to recover from one), he or she might prescribe a cholesterol-lowering medication and tell you to eat a low-fat diet, exercise three to four times a week, and cut down on the stress in your life.

In a similar manner, depression should be approached holistically–i.e., on a variety of levels. In working to find ways to achieve my own emotional balance, I identified five levels of self-care –physical self-care, mental/emotional self-care, social support, spiritual connection, and lifestyle habits, as shown by the diagram below.

Healing from depression can be likened to assembling a jigsaw puzzle. For the puzzle (and ourselves) to be whole and complete, all of the pieces must be in their proper place, as shown in the diagram below.

As you read through self-care activities, you will see that there is nothing new or radical in what I have suggested. The plan is a simple common sense approach to living a healthy and balanced life. But simple does not mean easy. Developing and sticking to good habits requires persistence, discipline and diligence (ask anyone who has quit smoking). But the dedication is worth it. Having spent too many days in the dark house, I do not wish to return; and I am confident that neither do you.

There is one final point that I would like to emphasize. No matter how many episodes of depression you have experienced, you are not your illness. The label “depression” does not define who you are but how you are suffering. If you start to believe that having depression makes you inherently defective, remind yourself that you are a normal person responding to an abnormal condition. Your spiritual essence transcends depression and cannot be touched by it or any illness. As the great 20th century visionary Pierre Teilhard de Chardin put it, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Above all, try to be at peace with your condition. Some people have diabetes, others heart disease; you get to deal with depression. By applying the strategies described in this web site, you can take small steps to improve the quality of your life. Remember, life is not always about fairness, but about how gracefully we learn the teachings of our unique path. Best wishes on your transformational journey.

Feel free to contact me …