Thanksgiving Day is a day to reflect on, and give thanks for, the blessings in our lives. For those unaware (as I was until I did my research), the following Thanksgiving proclamation was delivered by the Governor General of Canada Vincent Massey in 1957:
We do hereby appoint the second Monday in October in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven and each year thereafter as a day of general thanksgiving to Almighty God for the blessings with which the people of Canada have been favoured; and We do hereby invite all Our people of Canada to observe the said day each year as a day of general thanksgiving.
Sure, we should be thankful all the time for our blessings – and given today’s political and global climate, we should especially be thankful for the wonderful country we have the privilege to live in. But, like anything else, it’s easy to take our blessings for granted and get wrapped up in a ‘tsunami of life events’ – losing sight from time to time of the very things that ‘gifts’ our lives meaning.
So it’s good to reserve a day when we can slow things down and take time to breathe, reflect and appreciate the wonderful blessings in our lives. This is relatively easy to do in a ‘healthy’ state of mind.
When struggling with depression, however, it can be especially difficult to ‘feel’ that appreciation – even on Thanksgiving Day. I describe in my figurative Deep Well of Depression the tiny beam of sunlight that stretches down from the surface of the well, originating from the Sun. It serves to represent the blessings in our lives and stands for everything that gives our lives meaning and value.
Radiating from the beam of sunlight is warmth which symbolizes the intensity of appreciation for life’s blessings. The intensity is obviously strongest at the top of the well and weakest at the bottom. The only evidence of good in the mindset of a person struggling (or figuratively treading the Dark Water of Despair) is that tiny beam of sunlight from the opening of the well. The beam can be hardly noticeable when submerged in this ‘dark place’.
But it does not mean we are immune to it (the beam) in this desolate place – that we aren’t able to see it. Sometimes it just takes conscious effort to find the strength and courage to lift our head out of the dark water and look to, and embrace the faint warmth of the sunlight. In my book, I talk about the significance of when we do this, that it can provide a window of opportunity – an immediate, but temporary reprieve from oppression in this disorder. And perhaps, by this exercise, it may just be enough to detonate a ‘defibrillator experience’ in this disorder.
I’d like to close this post by sharing Dwight D. Eisenhower’s influential proclamation:
On that day let all of us, in accordance with our hallowed custom, foregather in our respective places of worship or in our homes and offer up prayers of thanks for our manifold blessings. Let the happiness which stems from family reunions on Thanksgiving Day be tempered with compassion and inspired by an active concern for those less fortunate in our own country and in other lands; and let us ask God’s continuing help and guidance in our conduct, both as individuals and as a Nation.