When I originally set up a blog and Instagram account I was coming out the other side of a lengthy battle with anxiety. I was in a good place and my demons had been put to bed (for a while). I wanted to help others find the happiness I knew they could through the tools I used.
It’s easy to be grateful on the good days. On the gin-drinking, sun-bathing, holidaying, morning-running, cute baby-wearing days. It’s fun to post photos of the good times. I like nothing more than showing off being out in amazing places and enjoying the little moments of joy in the every day. I stick to my daily gratitude practice and life feels abundant.
It’s much harder to talk honestly about the bad days. The days where every single thing feels like it’s falling apart. The days when you wonder ‘why me?’ The days that are just a pile of sh*t.
I thought our tiny weeny family had been dealt a fair share of the difficult traumatic times. When my little brother was killed in 2010 it broke us, it tested us, and I did some idiotic things on the way to rebuilding strength and living a full life again. But I got there.
It’s felt however like there has been very little to be grateful for over the last month or so. Mum’s health declined rapidly over the last few months and she was finally and suddenly diagnosed with a huge brain tumour. Life continues to consist of daily 2-3 hour round trips to an intensive care unit, breast feeding in pret-a-manger and then handing my baby over to be looked after by my Dad or my husband while we do visiting shifts, making acquaintance with nurse after nurse after nurse. Hand sanitizer, plastic gloves, deciphering medical terminology, googling diagnoses and procedures. Sedation, ventilators, tracheotomies, sutures and feeding tubes. Seeing mum suffer pain, trauma, indignity and fear. Feeling fear myself.
And then I have an almost 4 month old baby boy – the lost evenings, the sleepless nights, the inability to leave the house or do anything quickly but having to eat food at the speed of light with one hand. The post-partum problems, no-money problems, messy-house problems, not-having-enough-time-to-cook-so-eating-like-crap problems. It would probably scare you to see the inside of my fucked up head on the bad days.
I have to admit that I’ve wallowed. I’ve wallowed in self-pity for a while and my gratitude practice has been non-existent. Slowly but surely my old demons have crept back up on me and wham – I’m back in the grips of anxiety once again. In pure melt-down mode. I have a default setting that leads me to focus on the negatives, what could happen, all the things big and small that are going wrong. The ‘why is this happening to me?’ question. The feeling that life has to kick you when you are already down.
Gratitude does not come easy during these times.
So this morning I had reached a low point. I went out for a walk with my baby. In my head I was fuming that it was my turn to try to enforce his nap (again), annoyed that I’d miss the sunshine today because I had to make a trip to the hospital (again). Scared because my mum had had a bad day yesterday and is still in intensive care 3 fucking weeks later. My to-do list was running through my head on an endless loop and I felt trapped.
It might sound cheesy but in that moment I realised that Orson was holding my fingers and had just dropped off to sleep. It reminded me of the gratitude practice that I hold so dear but that comes so much more easily when life is good and tends to slip away when life gets tough.
I have my health, I’m incredibly lucky to be a mother to a healthy baby boy, the sun is shining right now at this moment and I’m outside in the countryside. I can breathe in this moment and just be.
When the days are sh*t – that’s when I need to practice gratitude the most. I commit now to honour my gratitude practice on all days, as when I’m rock-bottom, that’s when I need it the most.