I have spent many months of my life with an inability to feel pleasure – this is known as anhedonia. This means that no matter what happened, no matter how great it was, I couldn’t feel happy about it. I couldn’t feel happy at all. However, there is something I have learned about anhedonia, even without an ability to be happy, I can be thankful.
Last night I tossed and turned sleeplessly all night. This is very bad news for me. Without the proper sleep my mood is, well, painful to say the least. Without sleep, I can pretty much guarantee a horrific next day.
So I did what any self-aware sick person would do – I prepared myself for a bad day.
But it wasn’t a bad morning.
I got up, got my coffee, ate my breakfast, took a few glamour shots of my cat (yes, I’m like that) and realized that I didn’t feel terrible. I was surprised. I was thankful.
I didn’t actually feel good but I was thankful I didn’t feel worse.
I think feeling thankful is important. It helps frame things in a positive way, even when you can’t actually feel positive.
This isn’t to suggest you sit down at the end of the day and pick out things for which to be grateful. Don’t get me wrong, if you find that a useful exercise, feel free, but that feels awfully fake to me. No, this just means taking a split second in the day to remember that things are not as bad as they could be. Because really, they never are.
No matter how bad you feel right now, you could be worse. Believe me. Whenever I think this isn’t true, I’m proven wrong.
It Can Always Be Worse
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can always feel thankful either. And I think that’s OK too. No one, no matter how focused on getting better, is perfect and can manifest the “right” thoughts all the time.
But when possible, try to take a moment and focus on being thankful. It doesn’t mean you have to feel good about anything, it just means that you’re thankful. Which, for people with a mental illness, all things considered, is pretty amazing.