TW: Mentions of depression and suicidal thoughts.

I think it’s safe to say that this has been the worst year of my life. I’ve been so depressed and suicidal and that has just swallowed up the whole year. And feeling like that, it’s hard to access gratitude, even when you know that there are things to be grateful for. So I’m trying, according to my yearly tradition, to focus on the things that I know I’m grateful for, even if I can’t always feel it properly.

My Mum – What can I say, my Mum is amazing. So much of this year has been so awful and she’s been with me through all of it; she’s never given up, even when I kind of wish she would. She has been my champion. She’s the best and I honestly don’t know what I did to deserve her.

My family – I’m not sure what more I can say about my family, about how great they are. I have not been easy and my issues have taken up a lot of energy and yet, they have been there for me, supporting me in whatever way I needed at the time without judgement. There are so many different things I could write about, moments I could mention, but the most important thing to say is that I love them, more than I could possibly express.

The friends who’ve supported me – I am grateful for all of my friends but I wanted to give a special shout out to the friends who’ve been especially supportive over this last year. I’ve felt very alone and when friends reached out to me, it meant (and means) a lot. They didn’t necessarily do anything (although a few friends gave me gifts this year that I feel utterly undeserving of but am deeply grateful for nonetheless) but they sat with me in it, whether that meant actually talking about it all or watching TV together.

New friends – Despite the fact that I haven’t been out much this year, I have actually made some new friends this year, which has been nice. The pandemic hasn’t exactly been conducive to meeting new people and neither has my depression but the new friends that I have made, especially the ones that I have some quite heavy stuff in common with, have been a gift.

The connections that survived the pandemic – There were friends and acquaintances that I didn’t see for a long time because of the pandemic, several of those in Nashville for example, that I worried wouldn’t be the same after so long. Part of that is just my relentless anxiety that maybe no one actually likes me but part of that is also that everyone has a life, has their own stuff, and went through a trauma with the pandemic; I wasn’t sure if some of my relationships would survive all of that and I wouldn’t have held it against them if they hadn’t. But to my surprise and delight, many of these connections did survive the pandemic and even managed to grow over the year.

The cats – I don’t know what I’d do without my gorgeous cats; I really don’t. They’re adorable, they’re snuggly, they’re funny, they’re comforting… The list goes on. I feel very lucky to have them; there’s always one around to cuddle up with or make me smile. Lucy ushers me to bed when I stay up too late and keeps watch until she’s sure I won’t get up again. Tiger headbutts me until I stroke her and then she purrs like I’ve bestowed the greatest honour upon her. Mouse is slowly becoming more affectionate, having always been less sociable than her mother and her sibling, and has started seeking us out for strokes and cuddles. Sooty gets obviously impatient if I don’t make space for her on the sofa and then instantly settles down, stretched out and pressed up against me. Sweep appears and flops dramatically on top of her mother, like they’ve been separated for weeks (and, bless her, still struggles with the cat flap occasionally despite it having been there her whole life). They’re all the sweetest of little souls and I love them dearly.

Finding a private pool for hydrotherapy – It took many months and several attempts but we finally found a private pool that was a good fit for me to do my hydrotherapy exercises. Many of the preceding ‘failures’ didn’t allow me to do certain exercises or required travelling a fairly significant distance, so I am very pleased to have found such a gorgeous pool that has everything I need almost on my doorstep (plus the owners are lovely and their passion for decorating the pool for each holiday always makes me smile). When my routine is running smoothly, I manage to get there three times a week, which is great; sometimes it’s less than that but such is life. I’m doing my best here.

The fictional worlds I can escape into – One of my main coping mechanisms this year has been watching TV shows, old favourites mostly, and reading fanfiction and escaping into those familiar, comforting worlds. They’ve been both an escape and a relaxation technique. They give my thoughts somewhere safe to go when everything else, inside my brain and out in the world, doesn’t feel safe, when all of that stuff feels like a terrifying minefield. I’m grateful to have these worlds to lose myself in, even if only for a while.

When I feel like this, like I’m drowning in my depression with these near constant suicidal thoughts, things to be grateful for feel like a double edged sword. Sometimes they’re things that make me feel like I can keep hanging on, even if just for a little bit longer, and sometimes they feel like weights tied to my ankles, keeping me here when I desperately don’t want to be and I have to admit I resent them for that. So it’s anything but simple. It’s good and bad and hard and confusing; I can feel differently, ten different times in a day sometimes. But these are the objectively good things in my life and I can recognise that. I wanted to honour them for that.

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