Grateful Instead of Angry

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That SaturYAY feeling... 9 hours of sleep, a great cup of coffee, the times’ good news report (thanks for doing that @nytimes) and a full day of sunshine ahead of me.

One of my favorite questions that has been landing in my inbox as of late is: how did you learn to be grateful instead of angry at illness?

The first thing to note here is this - I was angry for years. Angry isn’t even the word for it - I was furious.

That said, I learned that emotions coexist at a young age. Joy comes with pain. Gratitude comes with sorrow. The landscape of humanity does not exist without the shadows and as much as I hated this truth - that emotional contamination occurs - the anger or darkness or sorrow always seeps into the joy, light and gratitude, I knew that was just how it was and how it always would be so I chose to accept it.

After my first psychiatric hospitalization when I had shock therapy and lost two years of memory, I took to writing my day’s events down each night diligently. Before bed, I would upload my day’s photos from my parents old Nikon and catalog the events of the day in a word document.

After I finished the photo + diary component of this practice, I wrote three lists: things I learned, things I wanted to work on & things I was grateful for.

I did this for years.

At times, furious & exhausted by the journaling, I resorted to only one practice at night - the gratitude list. In a journal my grandmother gave me, I always made time to write the things I was thankful for. They were small things: a tulip petal holding rain water and light, someone holding the door for me, an hour without hallucinations, a sip of coffee that tasted just right.

During our floor remodel & subsequent rat infestation two years ago, the little buggers got a hold of it but they left the poem I wrote on the fabric cover. It speaks to my growth into gratitude:

And today,

I vow to be a sunflower.

To grow,

Even in darkness & rain.

For even when the hallucinations rage,

And the sorrow drowns,

And the darkness takes over,

I have the power

To choose

To turn

To grow

Oh so slowly-gently

Towards the light.

Kate Fisher