Thankfulness in the struggle

Lying there, tears streaming down my cheeks, I felt myself dissolving into my bed with shame. How could I feel this bad when I have so much to be grateful for?

One of the most frustrating things to be told when you are suffering from depression is, “think about all the things you have to be grateful for!”

I get it.  In theory, practicing thankfulness is a great way to shift your thinking to focus on the good and not sink deeper in your sadness. But in reality, it can also lead to feelings of shame for not being able to will all the good in your life to make the darkness go away. Depression doesn’t work that way. All the wonderful and good things in your life cannot magically make the difficult things disappear. It is more complicated and layered than that.

Here’s what I try to do when I’m fighting with the darkness. I try to allow thankfulness and gratefulness to lift me as far as it can…which is pretty far sometimes. Sometimes just shifting my focus is all I need to change the direction of a downward spiral. Getting up and making an effort to enjoy what I can most definitely help. It’s always a good place to start.

A few years ago on Thanksgiving weekend, I was not feeling well. I was in a funk. Often depression symptoms for me feel flu-like. I had gone into my room to lie down but I could hear my family out on the lawn playing a game. The people I love were outside and just hearing them playing and laughing flooded my heart with gratefulness but I started to cry. How could I feel this bad when I had so much to be grateful for? I started to feel sorry for myself that I didn’t feel well enough to participate.

Then, I made a decision. I got up, brought my blanket outside with me, pulled up a reclining lawn chair and laid there instead, soaking in the scene of them playing and laughing together. I didn’t feel better physically but I allowed gratefulness to lift me as far as it could take me and it was enough for that day.

There have been other times though when gratefulness and thankfulness are not enough. In those times, I need to accept the fact that even while I acknowledge all the things I am grateful and thankful for, it is not the antidote for the battling depression. I came to accept this fact:

I can be thankful and struggling at the same time.

I spent many years not allowing myself to admit that I was depressed because I thought I had no good reason to be. It prevented me from getting the help I needed to bring me to the place I am today, where the rough patches are few and far between.

Be grateful. It will help but give yourself grace if it does not immediately make everything better. Let gratitude take you as far as it can. Then pray for guidance for the next step to get the help you need to take you the rest of the way.


Tracey Metzger

Tracey Metzger is the co-founder and President of For the Girls International, Inc. Her passion is to see women awakened to their unique purpose and empowered to use their unique gifts to share the hope and love of God with a hurting world. As a speaker and writer, Tracey’s refreshingly honest, down-to-earth approach encourages and inspires her audiences to live and move in the fullness of who God created them to be. Through various avenues, Tracey spends her days connecting with women of all ages and walks of life and inviting them into a sisterhood of love, support, and encouragement. She loves meeting women and hearing their stories. Whether you’re attending an FTGI event, reading her blog, or sitting across the table from her at Starbucks, you will find yourself utterly engaged in what Tracey has to say. You will also feel loved and understood. Her willingness to share her personal experiences and thoughts allows for any woman of any background to receive a message that is relatable, relevant, and motivational. Tracey and her husband of 34 years, Dan, have lived in Tampa Bay since 1993. They are blessed with two grown sons, a teenage daughter, and lovely daughter-in-law and two sweet granddaughters.

  • Deborah Marsh
    Posted at 08:46h, 24 November Reply

    Thank you Tracy for your heart felt and loving advice❤️ So true when battling depression there’s always the question & guilt, why are you depressed, there’s so much to be thankful for?! You’re an inspiration to us all & love how real our are and for that I am thankful for you Love ya ❤️Xoxo

    • FTGI
      Posted at 13:27h, 24 November Reply

      Thanks for the encouragement, Deb! I love knowing that it helps someone to share these things. It is so nice to know we are not alone in the struggle. Love you back!! ~Tracey

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