Written By: Michelle Gallagher
In 2008, I had postpartum depression. It was so severe that I had impending thoughts of doom, daily.
What if I left the stove on and the house burns down?
How am I going to afford rent this month when I can’t even get out of bed?
What if I fall down the stairs and squished my baby to death?
There was a moment so dark, where I considered my life coming to an end. I was drowning in despair. So much so that I was also mute for two weeks. And if you know me, you know how hard of a concept that actually is: I could not speak! My words failed me.
Nothing anyone could say or do could alleviate the pain I felt so I sought professional help, Much to the Dr.’s dismay, I didn’t have the time for prescription drugs as I was breastfeeding and did not want to quit.
One tool my mentor, who was also a psychotherapist, suggested was a gratitude journal. I looked at her with an eyes fully wide yet blank stare. Feeling my disdain, she recommended I start small, writing down three things a day that I could hold on to, and be completely thankful for.
I wanted so badly to get better for my daughter. I knew things would never be perfect but I also knew that I was at the lowest point in my life and for her sake and safety, I needed to start somewhere. When I got home later that evening, I busted out a Woman journal I’d gotten as a stocking stuffer for Christmas and started my assignment.
I’m grateful for coffee.
I am thankful for my eight month old’s smile.
I am grateful for the roof over my head.
Writing those things down took me at least ten minutes and all the energy I could muster. I was tired. My lack of energy was a big problem. But the next day, I forced myself to sit down with a cup of coffee and opened the notebook.
I’m grateful for the chill in the air.
I’m grateful for a car that runs.
So thankful my daughter is healthy.
This time it wasn’t so hard. I was also grateful for my coffee too but for the sake of being redundant, figured I’d leave it off the list. A week later, without direction from my mentor, my gratitude list went from listing three things to five, naturally.
I’m grateful for:
Food on my table.
Clothes on my back.
My daughter cooing.
At then end of week two, I noticed that something lifted. The grey veil that seemed to shroud around my every move wasn’t there. I wasn’t staying in bed as long in the morning. I looked forward to greeting my journal and having a moment of silence to myself. I started to smile again.
Thoughts of anxiety, the doom and gloom that was all consuming turned into hope toward the present day and the future. I wasn’t worried about falling down the stairs with child in tow. I started making ‘to do’ lists. This shift was incredible.
Soon my gratitude list began to grow from five things to be thankful for to ten. I noticed I actually grinned while I was itemizing what it was in my life I could be grateful for.
My little Wonder Woman journal filled so I got another. Three months later, my severe postpartum had subsided with a little diligence and a lot of thanksgiving. Appreciating the littlest of things turned things around to the degree that I could point out dozens of instances in which having an attitude of gratitude completely transformed my life for the better.
My physical body felt better. I didn’t carry as much weight or pain and the more I was responsive in praise to this, the healthier I became. I clearly looked better because customers where I waited tables would remark that I was vibrant and glowing. And while I wasn’t working out at the gym diligently with a crazy new mom schedule, I was actively recognizing the good things in my day to day mattered because when summed up they added to a life that was worth living. My life suddenly, for the first time became full.
Writing in my gratitude journal was such an amazing proof – in -the-pudding practice that I wondered what would happen if I would infuse every step on my walk with my daughter around our development with gratefulness. I remembered in a Tony Robbins program I had taken a decade earlier, he suggested adding mantra to action and so I did. With the stroller in hand, I pushed and silently thought:
“With every step, I am grateful for….being.”
“With every step I am grateful my legs working!”
“With every step I am stronger, happier and healthy!”
Some days while Sophia and I buzzed about the neighborhood, I would focus on one thing to really elevate that part of my life, like my health or the money I had in my wallet. With every step I believed that it was a seed I was planting for the good of our future.
What happened next was yet another life altering miracle brought on by being thankful. Gratitude burned through any and all of my fearful thoughts with laser precision. My intuition ignited and instead of being the woman everybody pitied, I became the woman everyone came to, inquiring how they too could as one person put it, become “more magnetic.”
In time gratitude didn’t just become my mantra or a thing I did each day in a journal, it became my daily prayer. When things went wonky or lopsided as they so often do in life, gratitude saved my ass from doing anything other than staying in a place of high vibration. Believe me, at times it was tough! I could have so easily taken a low road. Especially with people who were judgemental or attacking. But now, feeling an obligation to the blessings in my life, I was able to change the tone on some pretty heavy handed circumstances by being able to stop drop and give grace to the things that were working instead of focusing on what had gone wrong.
“God I know things hurt right now, but I am so grateful that this lesson is not the final outcome. I am so happy and grateful that you have myself and my daughters best interest in your hands.”
“Dear Universe, thank you for letting XX be a pain my ass. It’s helping me to realize when and where I’m a pain the ok, I’ll stop cussing – but honestly, I’m sorry.”
With gratitude now enlisted as a prayer I could also see clearly any and all other possible outcomes than what seemed to be one bleak one in a blinded moment of doubt. Tunnel vision became a multidimensional perspective. I felt a sense of safety knowing my daughter and I were being taken care of despite how other people or things were coming apart at the seams in front our our eyes or in our lives.
Life is meant to teach us many lessons and give us many experiences in an effort for us to become better people. I finally get that having gone through all of this an entire decade after starting my gratitude journey! Having a grateful heart has been key in landing business opportunities, letting me mend relationships that seemed beyond repair and bringing me out of the despair of a broken heart to the precise moment when I met a partner which, as of last week, I’m lucky enough to call my husband.
November is a really great time to start a gratitude journal. Tis the season of Thanksgiving!
If you’re not into journals, I am so happy and grateful that Heather Jensen suggested using the MOCC Facebook platform as a opportunity to give thanks. I’ll know I’ll be there continuing my gratitude journey and I hope to witness yours too.
Michelle Gallagher (Devi Ananda) is so very grateful to be an intuition coach, Kundalini Yoga & Meditation teacher and mom. Check out her out at VenusRisingInc.com