I'm lucky enough to be one of the 5.7 million Americans living with bipolar disorder. Although it is usually well controlled by medications and lifestyle choices, I do cycle through episodes of mania and depression from time to time.
When the depression hits, I spend a lot of time thinking about everything wrong with my life. I've found that the best way to deal with these thoughts is to force myself to change focus and acknowledge everything that's right in my life. I call this my gratitude list, and I keep it right in front of my computer in my workspace. It brings me comfort during hectic days or days when I feel a little down.
If I'm having a bad day, I also challenge myself to add at least one new item to my gratitude list. It may take some creative thinking, but I'm always able to come up with something.
Right now, the top items on my list include
- Family - They taught me to love reading and knowledge when I was a kid and have supported me emotionally and sometimes financially during my first year as a fulltime freelance writer.
- Friends - I consider my friends a part of my family. Without them, I couldn't go on.
- Pets - A quick shout out to Achilles, Alexander, and Leroux.
- Clients - Wonderful clients are a huge part of making my freelancing experience a rewarding one.
- Basic Necessities - A roof over my head, food, indoor plumbing, and electricity. (I know, the last two aren't really necessities, but they make my life much easier.)
- Favorite Authors - They create worlds where I can escape when my own world becomes unmanageable.
- Television/Movies - Another source of escape.
- My Imagination - One of the qualities that makes me a good writer.
- Treatment Team - I have a great team of professionals and friends who help me regulate my mood and bear with me during my ups and downs. Their timely interventions make it possible for me to focus on writing.
- Libraries - I love books (what writer doesn't?), and I get inspired just being in a place that contains so much printed material. Plus, I still can't believe that there are places where I can borrow books and read them without having to pay for them. How cool is that?
- Office Supply Stores - My source for paper, ink cartridges, notepads, pens, and all the other staples a writer should never be without.
- Candles/Incense - I almost always have a candle burning on my desk. Right now I'm inhaling pumpkin spice. Bliss.
- My Computer - Frankly, I can't remember how I ever managed without one.
- Chocolate - I don't really need to explain this one, do I?
- Las Vegas - One of my favorite vacation spots. Whether I'm in the mood for slots, blackjack, poker, shopping, an evening at the theater, or a world-class dining experience, I can find it all in Sin City.
- Computer Games - My guilty secret is that I love playing The Sims. I just got the medieval edition and can't wait to give it a try.
- Merlot - I can't resist a dry red wine!
- Broadway Music - I know all the words to Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. Go ahead, try me.
- Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors - An organization that helped me get back on my feet after the suicide of a close friend. I hope no one reading this ever has to experience such a loss, but if you do, the Alliance of Hope is a great place to go for information, comfort, and support.
- Mentors/Coaches - I've been lucky enough to work with writers like Carol Tice and Linda Formichelli who taught me about the business end of freelancing.
In honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, take a moment to think about the things you're grateful for. Then post them in the comments section or write a post of your own (please send me a copy of the link).