Grateful for Opportunities to Spend Time with Others

I have felt incredibly well over the last few weeks, which has allowed me to do more than ever before. I have been to all my church activities and taken advantage of every opportunity to spend time with friends or talk to people. It has been absolutely wonderful.

There are days when depression makes me not want to see or interact with anyone. I am an incredibly social person. I love spending time with people and talking to them. But autism and depression can make interacting exhausting. And there are times when I don’t want to try.

I do a scripture study group with a few friends on Sunday nights. We have been meeting at my house for a few months now, and it has been such a blessing for me. There have been Sundays where I thought about cancelling the group because I felt depressed and didn’t want to see anyone, but I didn’t because I didn’t want to deprive anyone of our weekly study time. On those days, the group meant even more to me. I didn’t want to have to try, but I needed the company. I needed to be around people. And that weekly group has been a constant that has helped me through difficult times.

Now that I am feeling better, I am grateful that I can take advantage of so many opportunities to spend time with others. But I am even more grateful for the opportunities I had when I wasn’t feeling well. I couldn’t always take advantage of them, but they meant so much to me and helped me so much when I was struggling with things no one there may have realized. Those moments have helped me in my darkest times. And I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given and for the people who made those opportunities possible.

Grateful for Goodness

I have been struggling today. I watched a show last night that had some teenagers bullying others, and it just broke me. The show was made well and had a good message and everything ended on a good note, but seeing people being mean to someone else was more than I could handle. I haven’t really been okay since then. I am not sure why I am so sensitive to these types of things or why it hits me so hard emotionally, but it takes a long time to get me back to normal after something like this.

It makes me more grateful for all of the goodness in the world though. It makes me grateful for everything that every person everywhere does to try to help someone else. Today is Veteran’s Day in America and I am grateful for the people that have served and are serving our country in the armed forces. There are so many people that sacrifice so much for others. From people in the military to teachers to nurses to parents, and so many more, there are many people in the world working to make this a better place.

On a day like today when I am drowning because of all the bad in the world, I am so grateful that there is so much good to focus on instead. Maybe there will always be bad things that happen. No one is perfect, and there will probably always be people who hurt others intentionally. But there are many more people who are trying to help others. There are many more people who are trying to generate goodness. It may not make everything better, but on a day like today, I can be grateful for the good in the world.

 

Grateful for Caring Leaders

I have had some really amazing leaders in the last few years. From a kind and understanding boss to church leaders that have become wonderful friends. I think we sometimes overlook good leadership. People tend to notice more when things go wrong than when things go right. Sometimes the best leaders are the ones you never hear about.

I am so grateful for the leaders I have had over the years. I am grateful for their service. I am grateful for their friendship. I am grateful that so many have taken the time to know me as an individual. I am grateful that they saw my potential and allowed me to have experiences to grow and contribute. I am grateful that they noticed when I was struggling or responded positively when I told them I was struggling with something.

I could name dozens of leaders over the years from many areas of my life that have impacted my life for the better. I am so grateful for each of them. I am grateful for all they taught me and for all they helped me become. I hope that I am that kind of leader as well. I hope that I encourage people and help them to be their best self. I hope that I give people opportunities to shine and contribute. I hope that I am as good of a leader as I have had the experience of serving under in my life because I am so very grateful for all they have done for me.

Grateful for a Best Friend

Thinking about the last two years, there is one thing (or rather, person) that I am grateful for more than anything else that has happened in that time. Becoming friends with my best friend, Shannon, is by far the most wonderful thing that has happened to me in the last two years. I cannot describe the joy and peace and love that she has brought into my life.

She taught me how to trust. She helped restore my faith in people. There is no one that I feel more safe with or more loved with than her. She has brought such a beautiful peace into my life. She has given me hope in the worst of circumstances. She has been my constant in a world of disorder and uncertainty. She has helped me make more progress individually and personally than anyone else.

Shannon, if you are reading this, know that you have changed my life. There are very few people that I am more grateful for than you. Your friendship means everything to me. Your love has made the biggest difference in my life. Thank you so much for everything.

Thank you for seeing who I really was and could be. Thank you for taking the time to get to know me. Thank you for the long nights when you were there for me in my most desperate hours. Thank you for the times you helped me or stayed with me when I was sick or hurting. Thank you for being the friend I always wanted but never knew existed. Thank you for allowing me to practice talking with you. Thank you for allowing me to be autistic with you. Thank you for letting me not be okay sometimes and not judging me or condemning me for it. Thank you for never making me feel like less than a person. Thank you for helping me to not be scared anymore. Thank you for teaching me how to love myself.

There are so many more things I would thank you for. I would thank you for every note you ever wrote me, every picture you ever sent me, every prayer you ever prayed for me, every conversation we ever had together. But I think most of all, I would thank you for every smile, for every night that I wasn’t lonely, for every breath that I felt at peace because of your wonderful, beautiful, perfect friendship. I know that you are not perfect, and our friendship is not perfect, but you have been the perfect friend to me. You have healed my heart and mind, and I could not be more grateful for all you have done for me. Thank you. Thank you for being the best friend I could have ever asked for.

Thanksgiving and Gratitude Posts

I love Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorite holidays because it is such a humble holiday. It is one of the most overlooked holidays, being squeezed in between Halloween and Christmas, but one of the most needed holidays as well. It reminds us, before we look to gifts, to look at what we have now and value it. It reminds us around the time that many are purchasing gifts that the greatest gift you can give is a piece of yourself. When we go around the Thanksgiving table saying what we are grateful for, we don’t generally mention material possessions nearly as much as we mention love and people and experiences. Thanksgiving is all about everything you can’t see or hear or touch but instead have to feel and experience.

A few years ago, I did a series of blog posts during November about what I was grateful for. I have been so immensely blessed in the last couple years that I again feel the need to share all that I am grateful for. So, for the next two weeks, I will be sharing at least one post a day about all the things I have been grateful for in the last two years.

Grateful for the Like Button

Sometimes I really don’t know how to respond to people. I can’t think of an appropriate response or something that would adequately express how I really feel. This is why I’m so grateful for the Like button.

I wish there was a like button for real life. Usually when I don’t know what to say, I just smile and nod and find an opportunity to walk away quickly. It’s not that I’m not grateful or that I disagree or that I don’t want to say something back, I just can’t put it in words. Sometimes all you can express is acknowledgement. Sometimes I just let people know I heard. It might come across as rude or unresponsive, but I just don’t know how to respond.

I am grateful that I don’t always have to respond. I am grateful that sometimes I can just acknowledge, and that is enough.

Grateful for This Blog

This blog has been an amazing place for me. It has been somewhere I can go to understand myself and help others understand me. It has been a refuge when I didn’t know where else to turn in lonely or desperate times. It has given a voice to thoughts I didn’t know how to express. It has given me a reason to keep trying when I felt like nothing I do matters. It has given me a way to communicate with others. It has allowed me to express my feelings and spread awareness.

I am very grateful for this experience. I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to be a voice for change and awareness and education. I am grateful to feel like I have made a difference, even if it has been relatively small.

I am not sure about the future of this blog at the moment. With the changes happening in my life, I am not sure if I will be able to maintain it or keep posting regularly. Whatever the future brings though, I am grateful for the experiences and friends and acquaintances and everything good that has come out of this blog.

Grateful for Change

I am not who I was a year ago, or 6 months ago, or even a week ago. I keep changing and growing and becoming better. I have been amazed at how much I have changed in the last year. I look back at things I wrote a few years ago and shake my head at my whining and self centered behavior.

I am so grateful that we don’t stay the same. I am grateful that I haven’t stayed the same. I look pretty much the same way as I did in high school, but I am a completely different person on the inside. I am kinder, more understanding, more forgiving, and just in general, better and wiser than I used to be. I am grateful for that change and for the opportunity I have to change continuously. I don’t know what I would do or who I would be if I wasn’t constantly changing and becoming a better person every day.

Grateful for Autism

It has taken me a long time to be grateful for autism.

It is easy to wish your life was easy. It is easy to want what you don’t have and to think that if only you had something, or didn’t have something, that life would be perfect. At some point though, you may realize that you don’t really want a perfect life.

I consider my life to be perfectly imperfect, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love autism because it makes me different. I see things in ways other people don’t. I hear things and feel things and notice things differently than others. I live in the same world, but I experience it differently than most.

This has made life more difficult. Autism has made making friends more difficult. I have doubted myself and questioned the need for my existence. I have had unrealistic expectations of myself because I didn’t realize how real my autism is. I have thought I was broken or damaged or alien or not fit to be around “normal” people.

Up until recently, I didn’t think a diagnosis mattered. It was just a name for certain symptoms or characteristics or tendencies or whatever you want to call them. What a diagnosis does for me though is it helps me know I’m not broken or incapable or unworthy. Nothing about me indicates that I have autism, which makes it easy to wonder what is wrong with me when I struggle. But having a diagnosis helps me realize that some things ARE harder. I can’t expect as much out of myself because it’s just not realistic.

It has taken me a long time to forgive myself for being different. It has taken me a long time to forgive myself for not talking to people or not making friends or being unable to communicate my needs.

Today though, I am grateful for autism because it has made me more grateful for the friends I do have. It makes me grateful for the good days. It makes me grateful when I can communicate what I mean in a way that people understand and connect with. It makes me grateful for quiet moments, sweet scents, and soft textures. It makes me grateful when I can help someone or change a point of view in a positive way or influence another person for good. I still struggle with being okay with having autism, but I am grateful for it overall.

Grateful for Depression

While depression is super hard, it is one of the things I am most grateful for in life.

About 6 years ago, I took a semester off of school and laid in bed with an unknown illness. I spent a lot of time online and joined every support group I could find. It started with autism groups and then I joined some depression support groups. My best friend came out of one of those groups. A lot of other friends and good experiences and positive outcomes have come through those support groups.

What I am grateful for most about depression though, is the opportunity to understand. I am not a very understanding person. I don’t see things the same way other people see them, and I don’t understand what people see or how they think. But I do understand how they feel because I feel so deeply with depression. I am so grateful for that understanding, for the empathy it helps me feel, and the patience and perseverance it teaches me.

I am grateful to be a better person and a better friend because of depression. I am grateful to be more kind and understanding and compassionate because of depression. I am grateful to be a seeker of happiness, goodness, and hope because of depression. And I am grateful that I can connect with people on a totally different level through my depression. I am grateful that depression makes me and my life better.