A couple days ago, instead of waking up slowly and peacefully, I was suddenly jolted awake by the realization that the side of my pants were soaked with an unidentified fluid. Ugh, I thought, not again! I dug myself out from my pile of blankets and pillows to check my feeding tube and PICC line to see which was the culprit. I noticed my G tube cap had popped off and was leaking my stomach contents all over myself and my bed. Lovely.
I got up to clean myself off and realized that we had no power in the house. That means, not only was I cleaning myself off and changing my bed in the dark, I had very limited water to actually wash myself for the time being. Let’s just say, it definitely was not a good start to the day.
Though this was only more recently, after a string of similarly bad days and bad health through the months of December and January, I found myself getting easily caught up in the negatives of living with a chronic illness. Most days, I manage to stay pretty positive but, when so much bad stuff is happening constantly with your physical health, it can pretty easily start to take a toll on your emotional health too and I could start to feel those negative emotions seeping through.
Rather than letting the bad stuff take over only for me to be grumpy and wallow in it, I decided to make a change. In February, I started journaling before I went to bed. Because of lovely brain fog and typically uneventful days, I found writing about my day on a daily basis pretty redundant. Then, I remembered watching a TED talk called “Want to be happy? Be grateful.“. That’s when I decided that, instead of detailing my day to day life, I was going to write down three things I was grateful for everyday.
Today, I am so grateful that I started doing this.
I am now about 100 days into my challenge of gratitude and, if I’m being completely honest, somedays even at this point, it is still very challenging to think of three things I’m grateful for. On the days where it feels like your world is falling down around you, it’s much easier to be bitter and angry than grateful, this is why I call it my challenge of gratitude. But, by taking 5 minutes to reflect on my day and find those three things to put on my list, it helps me to let go of all those negative feelings and, rather than being sad about what I don’t have, it helps me appreciate all that I do have.
It has allowed me to start seeing things in a different light, to change my perspective for the better. For example, on day 3, I was grateful for my shower seat because it gives me the independence to bathe on my own without assistance. I could be sad about the fact that I’m 19 and need a shower seat but, instead, I decided to be grateful for the independence it gives me. Somedays, my three items are serious and sometimes they’re silly and sometimes they’re trivial but, they are the little things that make me smile, so who cares?
Keeping a positive outlook through all the bad stuff life throws at you is not an easy task hence why it’s completely necessary to occasionally throw yourself a pity party like I did recently. Life is definitely full of ups and downs. Sometimes, I veer off-track and just have to let my feeling out and have a good cry, that’s okay. It’s important to acknowledge and let yourself feel your emotions, good or bad. But, I’m doing my best at equipping myself the best way possible to stay on a road of happiness; practicing gratitude is just one of the weapons in my arsenal.
I’m realizing more and more the importance of both physical and mental self-care. Though it isn’t a magical cure to all things bad in my life, learning to have appreciation for the little things has definitely been a key in supporting my emotional well-being. It has not only helped make me happier, but it’s also helped me truly understand that everyday may not be a good day but that there is some good in everyday. It’s important to take note of the good to help you release the bad.
If you’d like to join me in my challenge of gratitude, I use and recommend the Health Storylines app because it not only has a great journaling feature, but it sends me a notification daily to remind me to check-in which helps keep me accountable! My original goal was 100 day of gratitude but I’m on a roll! I’m now aiming for one whole year. Will you challenge yourself to 100 days of gratitude?