Staying Positive With Chronic Disease
How do you stay so positive through your hard times?
Rebloggable by request after the question was posed here.
I started by redefining the word “positivity.” I used to think positivity meant obnoxious optimism and being happy all the time. I thought it meant not acknowledging the negative or being able to turn the negative off, so to speak. I thought it was something that some people just had, and either you had it or you didn’t— and I sure as hell didn’t.
I was wrong. Staying positive requires hard work! Positivity (at least for me and my situation) is about being healthy mentally, making healthy and proactive choices when dealing with terribly unhealthy physical circumstances. It’s about taking the waves as they come. It’s about stopping to smell all of the roses in the garden and remembering that even when there are no roses to be found, they will bloom again. It’s about noticing and appreciating little things— finding a handicapped parking spot on campus, a good hair day.
It’s about hope.
I don’t smile all the time. I am not happy all the time. I don’t love my situation and I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t jump at the chance to live a “normal” life. And I don’t believe in shoving that kind of optimism in the face of my readers or sugarcoating these diseases because it’s just not real when your disease(s) cause the kind of symptoms many of us experience (sometimes that kind of optimism/positivity is, quite frankly, insulting and invalidating). But this is my life and it’s going to pass me by even if I spend the next 10 years being miserable, so I choose to redefine it.
And for the record, you don’t need a life changing disease to make the choice to see the world through a fresh pair of eyes.
I surround myself with people who lift me up and make me laugh. It took a really long time to put together a support network that was the right fit and healthy, but it is imperative.
Humor (often strange and inappropriate) and laughter are the best medicine. I try to laugh at myself and my situation as often as possible. It doesn’t make it any less of an awful disease or hand of cards, but it makes it easier to deal with.
I have friends who look at it the same way. Having friends who can make inappropriate jokes about my situation— being able to laugh at things like shitting my pants in the grocery store or being called a sloth, or at a rash that makes me look like a lobster— helps me remember that everyone has something.
So I laugh about it. I also cry when I need to and do not let anyone invalidate my tears. I get depressed. I get sad. I get angry. Some days I wake up and don’t choose positivity; some days, I choose to wallow. But even when my circumstances keep me down, I hold tight to perspective that there will be kinder days, and I will pull myself above water and go smell the roses again, even if it takes a little while. And it’s okay to use a life jacket if you can’t get your head above on your own. Ask for help.
To me, that’s what positivity is. It’s a choice I make to keep a healthy perspective and be proactive, even when I am at my lowest point. It’s a lens I see the world through. It is a way of life.