Monday, 13 February 2012

"Love and Be Loved"

"Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved if at all possible." ~ David Nicholls, British writer

When I was a child I used to adore Valentine's Day. I loved decorating the little box that would sit at the front of my desk at school. I can still remember lovingly and painstakingly punching out the old-fashioned Valentine's cards and selecting the perfect one for each of my classmates - Laura should get this one and Nicole should get that one. It was so fun to walk around the classroom and drop a Valentine into each box and so exciting to dump my own box upside down and read the ones that I received. Back then Valentine's Day was simple and sweet - it was about celebrating love and friendship.

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, a day both loved and dreaded. I used to fall into the latter category when I was in my twenties and without a boyfriend. It seemed to me that everyone was in love on February 14th. Except for me. Oh, how sad for me. Sad?! Pitiful, in retrospect!

But something that I have learnt through my life with depression is that nobody is happy all the time. Nobody has a picture perfect life. Sometimes life is hard - for everyone. And sometime people suffer silently. But sometimes you need to count your blessings and embrace what you do have. In my case I have friends and family whom I love dearly. Isn't that worth celebrating? Damn right it is.

My friend Tanya is a great example of someone who embraces life and tries to live it fully. If there is an obscure holiday to celebrate, she will find it and make sure that you celebrate it with her. In the years that I have counted Tanya as my friend I have celebrated everything from Robbie Burns Day to National Ice Cream Day. She wears green on St. Paddy's Day and has been known to wear purple on Fridays for her favourite football team.  She makes sure that she brings me and her other friends along on her ride. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

My friend Tara decided that to raise money & awareness for got-organs? (organ donation) she would sell Valentine's day candy-grams at work. Would I help her, she asked. Uh, yes please! So a few people are going to smile tomorrow when they come into work to find a candy-gram awaiting them. But I bet that the people who ordered them really feel happy. And I was happy to help my friend with a cause that means a lot to her.

You see, I believe that every day is what you make it. When you fight chronic illness such as recurrent and persistent depression you sometimes feel like you don't have a choice to be happy. Frankly, sometimes you don't - it's just too far out of reach, this thing that you used to recognize as happiness. That is precisely why I make a conscious choice when I am well to try and be as happy as I can be.  So that means appreciating things and people who mean something to me. It means trying to let go of thoughts and feelings that aren't healthy for me. It also means loving myself. Sometimes that's the hardest thing of all.

So here's another challenge for you. In honour of Valentine's Day, show yourself some love tomorrow. Stop those negative thoughts that creep into your head. Embrace who you are, try something new, and practice a moment or two of gratitude for all the blessings that you do have.

Tonight, as I write this, I feel inspired by Tanya and Tara - and darn lucky to count them as my friends. In the words of my mom's favourite Beatle, Paul McCartney, "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."

Happy love day!

KB xo

1 comment:

  1. KB, I too feel lucky to have you as a friend! You inspire me with your strength, courage and craftiness! Happy Valentine's day! Salute to good friends!

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