How “Gratitude Plus” Healed My Depression

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After my daughter was born, some 23 years ago as I write this, I fell into a pretty severe post-partem depression.

It was probably caused by a combination of taking my thyroid medication at the wrong time, hormone imbalances, and lack of sleep.

This was way before The Healing Codes came into my life. I didn’t know what to do. I did seek medical help, but oddly, I didn’t get any. All I remember is the doctor saying, “Your color is good” (did he ever hear of makeup?), and basically doing nothing. I was too exhausted and depressed to keep seeking help.

So what I did was pray. And God gave me His prescription, which was pretty simple.

God’s Prescription for My Depression

Just three steps.

1. Write “morning pages” first thing when I wake up. Three pages of longhand in a 9×11 lined notebook. Brain dumping, whatever comes into my head.

I’ve been doing that every single day, just about, since 1995.

The effect is wonderful. I get all the junk out, first thing every day. Sometimes I write down dreams.¬†Only occasionally do I get a few good ideas that I can use in my work. Mostly it’s stream-of-consciousness dribble I doubt anyone would find remotely interesting.

I realized later, though, how clever and efficient God is. Not only did this practice stand in for a more expensive counselor; it also made me a better, more fluent writer. I have not experienced writer’s block for decades.

2. Walk every day in the morning. This is the second thing God told me to do for my depression. Later I read that many studies say this is at least as effective as medication. God knew that already!

3. The third thing was to notice the gifts of each day, and write them down. Many people keep “gratitude journals,” but this felt a little different. I was to deliberately connect God to it: What felt like a gift from God that day?

The more I looked, the more I saw. I challenged myself to find at least 3 gifts every day.

Many people keep “gratitude journals,” and that is a very good practice. But for me, thinking of it as a “gifts journal” makes it “gratitude plus.” Noticing and writing down things that feel like gifts from God–somehow it takes gratitude to a whole new level.

For me, it takes gratitude out of the realm of “principle” (gratitude is good for you because it focuses you on the positive, which of course is true), to the personal. When you keep a gifts journal, it’s all about noticing and fully receiving what the supreme Giver has given to you. These are connection points, in time and space, when you received something from a Person that you can’t see. The gifts are footprints of God’s presence in your life.

I started keeping that “gifts journal” in 1995, and in a couple of years I had enough to fill a book. The book of my heart, Abundant Gifts, was published first by Tyndale House in 1999 and then republished in 2004 by New Hope Publishers, after famous author Jan Karon said, “God speaks to me from Diane’s pen.”

Keeping track of the things that feel like gifts has been totally life-changing for me.

Just yesterday, I got another “abundant gift.” My office chair needed replacing; it was starting to affect my back. My husband also could needed one.

Well, my son came home with two free chairs from his office! But here’s the real gift: someone in our neighborhood was giving away an office chair–the same day. That was the one that suited me best. God picked out my new office chair! In one day, God supplied, for free, office chairs for me, my husband and son.

Some people call these “gifts from the Universe.” If that’s your belief, fine. But to me, it’s much more personal than that. I’d rather receive from “the Father of lights”: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). Isn’t that beautiful?

Keeping a gifts journal pulled me out of depression, and led to a book that blessed thousands. Whenever I’m down, I get back to keeping my gifts journal.

I hope you will consider doing the same. Look for at least 3 things every day that felt like gifts. The more you look, the more you’ll find!

And oh–don’t forget to thank the Giver. That completes the blessing. The Giver loves to be acknowledged and thanked, just as we do.

If you would like to download the same “Abundant Gifts Journal” I use, for free, go here.

 

 

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