ASK DENISE: Reader finds it difficult to be thankful

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Denise Harrison
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Denise Harrison


Editor’s note: Writer’s answers do not reflect those of the Mitchell News-Journal and are not meant to replace medical or mental health care.


Dear Denise: I know Thanksgiving is coming, and everyone is putting on Facebook things for which they are thankful, but what if you have nothing for which to be thankful? 

My wife left me, I am getting old and have arthritis, and I am living on a fixed income. My children never call or visit. I feel miserable all the time. 

So, for what should I be grateful?

Dear Reader: I am sorry you are feeling so poorly. Life has a habit of sometimes kicking us in the teeth. When bad things happen to us, however, there are two ways in which you can react. You can become a victim and wallow in the pain, or you can become a survivor and rise above it. I prefer the second. 

In saying that, I find your statement of having nothing to be grateful for difficult to believe. Are you breathing? Do you have a roof over your head? Is there food on your table? 

Every day on this earth is something for which to be grateful. Too often, we overlook the positive to focus on the negative. 

I am sorry your wife left, and your children are neglectful – that must genuinely hurt. But do you have friends that care? If not, get out and make some. Having good friends usually requires you being a good friend as well. 

It stinks not having discretionary income, but there are things you can do that cost little or nothing. If you are old enough to participate in senior services, the local senior center has a lot to offer. They have lunches, activities and trips that include transportation. 

Something I ask my patients to do is to begin every day by compiling a gratitude list, in which they write down at the minimum of five things for which they are grateful. It can be as simple as a hot cup of coffee or as broad and complex as the world in which we live. Focusing on what we are grateful for makes it difficult to dwell on the negative. 

If you try these things and still feel down, it may be time to contact a mental health provider for help. Life is too precious to waste time feeling bad. I wish you the best.


Dear Denise: How much is too much to post on social media? My mom posts everything, and I find it embarrassing.

Dear Reader: I think people tend to forget everything posted on the internet becomes public domain. They fall into this feeling of false security because they only see those on their “friends list,” so they feel those are the only people seeing what they write. This is false. 

Most posts can be shared and transferred to anyone. Social media sites such as Facebook are designed for people to keep in touch and to share events and news, not for controversial rants and personal discussions or arguments. 

Maybe your mom doesn’t realize how public her posts are.  

Try talking to her about this. If she continues to use social media in the manner she does, you can only try to ignore it. 

You are not responsible for anyone’s posts but your own. Hang in there.


Denise Harrison is a Licensed Counselor in Spruce Pine. Send questions to or call and leave a message at 828-467-0037. Submissions are anonymous.