What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving means many things to many people. For some it’s a day in which we are thankful for a feast (I know I am!). How many people actually reflect upon what they are thankful for (other than the feast they will be enjoying) and express their gratitude? I am guilty of being thankful for a feast but not reflecting upon what else I have to be thankful for. Thought it was a good time to change that….

I have many things to be thankful for… my health for starters! I will be doing the Ward Parkway Thanksgiving Day 5k tomorrow. I am healthy and active enough that I can. There are many people who can’t. So while my finish time will be slow, I hope I remember to enjoy the moment and the fact that I can run.

Speaking of health, I am thankful for my mental health. Yep, I said mental health. I hate it when people refer to depression or PTSD as having a mental illness. I struggle with depression and PTSD but I am not depression or PTSD. I am not defined by my depression or PTSD. I am thankful I have found a therapist that I like and feel I can talk to openly and honestly. I am glad she gave me a homework assignment to write down each day 3 things I am grateful for. We were talking about whether I am a cup half full or half empty kind of person. I said I was a cup half empty kind of person. That’s when she challenged me to think about Gratitude. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. I’ve only been working on this assignment for a week but wow has it opened my eyes! Want to learn more about Gratitude? Visit this blog: http://www.thechangeblog.com/gratitude/.

Appreciation can make a day, even a life.  Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.

I am thankful for the family and friends who have stuck by me during my struggles the past few years. There aren’t many who know all that I have gone through because I am afraid to be open about the details but those that do have either walked out of my life or stayed by my side. I am thankful for both groups.

The ones that walked out taught me a lesson: Be careful who you trust your problems with. Remember not everyone that smiles at you is your friend! I trusted some people I shouldn’t have including some people in law enforcement. I am not saying all officers are bad and can’t be trusted when you need help. That’s not true! There are many good officers out there and I am thankful that there are people willing to put on the uniform and take the oath to protect and serve! My issue is that I turned to a law enforcement officer when I needed help and that person failed me. I didn’t understand that law enforcement is not trained to deal appropriately with someone who is struggling with depression, PTSD or other mental health issues. I was running in to this particular officer on a regular basis and thought because this person was being friendly to me that they could be a good resource for me to get help. I learned the hard way that that wasn’t the case. Whether it’s not having awareness of mental health issues such as depression, PTSD, etc or some other reason, I will never know but that officer chose not to help me. In all fairness, at the time I didn’t know what was wrong with me, just that I needed help. What I have learned is that when I do need help I have people in my life I can turn to. Some of those people are in law enforcement, most are not. I don’t have a negative opinion of law enforcement just because I had a negative experience. Life is full of lessons. I have long since forgiven that officer –  after-all, she taught me a valuable lesson. I am pretty careful now who I talk to when I am struggling and need someone to listen. That brings me back to those that have stayed in my life during some of my biggest struggles…. I am so thankful for them! I won’t try to name them, they know who they are!

I am thankful I have a full time job with benefits. Thanks to benefits such as an Employee Assistance Program I was able to find the therapist I currently work with. It has been good for me to have a place where I can openly and honestly talk about the things I have struggled with in my life. I encourage anyone struggling to reach out and talk to someone whether it’s a friend, family member, teacher, priest, therapist, anyone you feel like you can talk to openly and honestly. We can’t always solve our problems by ourselves. It’s ok to not be ok. It’s even more ok to ask for help. It’s a hard thing to do, I know, but so worth it!

There are many more things I am thankful for but I better get some work done so I still have a job to be thankful for! What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving???