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Immunizing Ourselves Against Depression

Feb 15, 2008
Did you ever wish you could be "immunized against depression?" The best immunization is a correct understanding about the way life works. And that's what's in it for you! Read on.

When things go wrong, I used to wonder, "What did I do to deserve this!?" And somehow I slipped, in times past, into believing we all have a "right" to some of life's blessings. In fact, the government is busy convincing Americans that the "right to pursue health and happiness" as emphasized by the founding fathers was really a big mistake, and that Americans have a "right to health and happiness." Just forget that pursue business! But the fact is, we don't have an inherent right to anything, and the founding fathers had it right. And we don't "deserve" better!

Don't get me wrong! I'd like to believe I deserve better and I'd like to believe I have a "right" to all sorts of goodies. But just because "I want it" doesn't make it true. This mentality, that "I deserve" something, is what gets folks into trouble every time they buy into it.

I have realized that it's the "I deserve" mentality that sent me spiraling into a depression when my kids were diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. I was so caught up with "I deserve" that when I didn't get what I deserved (healthy children and happily-ever-after), I became depressed, resentful and borderline bitter. "If I deserved it, why didn't I get it?" and "That's not fair. Why does everyone else get it?" And on and on.

I have come to realize that the "I deserve" mentality keeps me emotionally stuck. I end up focusing on what I don't have (and of course deserve) rather than focusing on being thankful for what I do have. When things don't work out the way "I deserve" them to, then I get upset, angry, resentful or depressed. After all, don't I deserve a happy life, healthy kids, a successful career, a good marriage, the support I need with the kids, and a nice car just like all of those advertisements and fairy tales say I do?

Well, no.... The truth is: No one owes me anything and I really don't deserve anything, either. Why is it the job of the universe or karma or fate or God to give me anything? Everything I have is a gift, a blessing; not something that I was entitled to. Because, in the end, we are entitled to nothing. Children die or are never born at all. Car accidents happen. Jobs are lost. Houses are foreclosed on. Businesses fail. Marriage is hard. Most of the world doesn't have enough food and clean water much less universal health care, paid medication and retirement checks. I am blessed.

This year I am focusing on thankfulness, gratitude, and appreciation. I am choosing to look on the bright side, dwell in the positive, and to find creative ways to make lemonade out of lemons. This is why the book (which I co-authored) "Parenting Children with Health Issues" means so much to me and brings me such joy. I am doing something positive with the most difficult challenge of my life: having two children with cystic fibrosis.

Instead of being depressed about having two kids with cystic fibrosis and all of the heartache and headache that entails, I am lucky that they are in my life at all, that they are so wonderful and adorable and that we live in America with the best healthcare in the world. Instead of being upset about my husband's recent job re-org and pay cut, we are thankful to have a job at all in this massively messed-up housing market (he works for a homebuilder). Instead of griping about the changes in our insurance and prescription plans that make us pay more plus have more hassles, I am grateful we have insurance at all. I am thankful to have an incredible business partner and meaningful work that inspires me despite the day-to-day challenges. I am grateful that I have a wonderful family despite all of our little idiosyncrasies and hang ups. I am blessed.

Do I deserve it? Not a bit of it. Am I grateful for it? You betcha. Even when the kids are sick, the house is a mess and the finances running tight.

This new year, I am focusing on turning my burdens into blessings. That's what's in it for me....... And that's what's in it for you!

(Reprinted with permission from Parenting Children with Health Issues by Foster W. Cline, M.D., and Lisa Greene.)
About the Author
The book "Parenting Children with Health Issues" is by Foster W. Cline, M.D., child psychiatrist and co-founder of Love and Logic (Love and Logic) and Lisa Greene, mother of two children with cystic fibrosis. Visit Parenting Children With Health Issues.
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