I have suffered from mental illness for the majority of life, since being a preteen. It is something that has made life extremely hard, and when it was joined by fibromyalgia and mobility issues, daily life became something to really contend with.
I’ve been through a great many tough times and continue to battle on. These hard times are a constant part of my life due to my illnesses, but it’s something that I have come to terms with and fight on in spite of. I see myself, as many others with chronic conditions and mental illness do and rightly so, as a warrior. I keep fighting every single day and will not give up. I refuse to be defined by my illnesses, I refuse to let these difficulties stop me from living my life.
Keeping a positive attitude
Keeping a positive attitude, as hard as this can be at times, is how I keep moving forward. I’ve always been a fundamentally positive person in general but choosing to focus on the positive side of things as much as I can, even when my brain only wants to see the negatives, is a skill that I have developed over time.
Maintaining this determination to get through every day, and not to just survive but to thrive, is what keeps me going. I may have to work around my illnesses, life may be different than I had pictured it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t achieve the happiness I seek. I can work hard towards these things and adapt my thinking and the ways I do things in order to make my life what I want it to be.
Finding the positive side of things
If I’m having a bad day, I think of the things that are wonderful in the world and in my life. If I feel low, I do something to try and cheer myself up whether this is a small act of pampering myself like doing my nails or doing something silly like putting on a really cheerful song and dancing about to it. When I feel anxious, I use distraction techniques and try to do something positive that I feel able to do at the time, such as doing crafts to keep my hands and mind busy. If I feel angry at the things I am unable to do because of my illness, I try to remember the wonderful things that I am capable of and the qualities that I do have which make me unique and fantastic. If I struggle to see these things myself on really bad days, I ask my support system to help me see them more clearly, to help me find the positive side.
Dealing with emotions
This doesn’t mean that I bottle things up or set aside my feelings or try to ignore them. If I am upset, angry or experiencing any other emotion that I feel is something that needs to be dealt with and not just distracted from, then I will deal with it head on by addressing it with myself, talking about it with my support system or getting therapy if I feel it’s needed. Trying to see the positive side of things is just a way of coping day to day, it doesn’t work for everything and it doesn’t replace dealing with core issues.
All feelings are valid
It’s not always easy to remain positive and it’s fine not to be positive at times. In fact, it’s fine to be the complete opposite of positive sometimes. No one can have a positive attitude all the time, especially not when you have mental health issues or other illness to deal with, it’s just not possible. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s healthy to have a range of emotions and is valuable to nurture and acknowledge all of your emotions. It’s more than ok to experience a wide range of feelings, to feel angry because of what you go through, to feel frustrated, to feel literally anything that you feel. All of your feelings are valid and they don’t have to be brushed away or hidden.
Experiencing happiness in hard times
I am far from constantly positive, I allow myself to feel how I feel and I deal with it as I go. Trying to have a positive attitude isn’t for everyone, it’s just how I cope and what I find works for me. Everyone has their own way of coping with their situations and they are all valid if they help you and don’t cause you harm. For me, when I feel angry or upset I allow myself to feel these feelings and to deal with them, but when I’m able, when my illness allows me to, then I look at the positive side of things and it allows me to see the joy in the world and to experience happiness in my life even in hard times.