What to do when you want to give up...
Just a few years ago, life was really dark. I often wondered if my family would be better off without me. I didn't want to end my life, but wished I could just fade away, slowly being erased from existence so no one would hurt when I was gone. I now know this was a result of multiple traumas in my life which caused severe panic disorder. At the time, I just thought I was really screwed up and carried the fear that life would always be this painful on my shoulders like a 1000 lb boulder.

I'd often heard about a "gratitude practice". It was this catchy trend at the time, all the popular social media influencers were talking about it. *Cue the eyeroll* But the way they said it would help, while I wasn't nearly convinced, sounded great. I desperately needed help, needed something to change if I had any hope of surviving this season. I felt utterly alone, while being surrounded by people who I knew loved me and were trying to break down my walls.

I figured, what do I have to lose, really?? What if this can help? Even if it doesn't do all they say, maybe it could help just a little bit? So I got a new notebook and designated it as "my gratitude journal". I set an alarm in my phone so I wouldn't forget, or be less likely to conveniently avoid it, and put the notebook on my desk, front and center.

It was so hard at first. There were days I could barely even write, sometimes only scribbling out "I'm grateful" because it hurt too much to try to find something to be grateful for, and I certainly didn't feel grateful to be alive. As time went on though, I was able to start writing, "I'm grateful to be alive, to have woken up today," or the simple yet specific, "I'm grateful my husband packed my lunch today." As it got easier, I tried to extend my gratitude, including why I was grateful for that particular person or thing. "I'm grateful my husband packed my lunch because I know that's his way of showing me love." "I'm grateful for my son's sweet hugs because it means I'm doing something right as a mommy."

As the days went by, I was able to write more and more. I was able to notice things throughout my day and recognize my gratitude in the moment. Slowly the clouds started to fade and my days became brighter. I was able to recognize that therapy might help me out too. It was still a scary thought, facing my past, but it was one I was able to see the benefit of at that point, and have the courage to face that fear. My gratitude practice is not perfect, by any means. There are entire months (or more) that I miss writing a single entry. But I know how much it helps, and when I'm consistent with it I see the fruit of my labor in the mood improvement and connectedness I feel with my family and my world. I wish that for you too, my friend. That you would be able to feel connected to your loved ones and your world, and that the darkness would start to blow away like the clouds on a hot summer day.

If you are needing help starting a gratitude practice, make sure you grab my free printable guide, complete with prompts for when you just can't find something to be grateful for.

If you are craving connection with other moms who get what you are feeling, please come find me, and my village of amazing women, at Postpartum Moms Overcoming Anxiety. We know what it's like to feel alone, and we want you to know you are not, not anymore.
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