This is a topic that I have been thinking about for a while now. I’ve written this blog in my head about 100 times, and depending on my mood at the moment, my position on the matter changes, so keep that in mind as you read 😉
By nature I would say that I am a pessimistic person (at least I used to be…). I am pretty careful when it comes to decision making, and I worry a lot about what *could* happen, or what *might* happen. I try to not get my hopes up because what’s worse than being disappointed or let down? NOTHING that’s what. It’s a crazy way to go through life, but that’s how I was wired for years. I just found it easier to be ready for the floor to drop out. Yep, when I look at that glass we so often talk about, it’s half empty. Since becoming ill however this mindset has changed a bit for me. Every doctor I saw, every blog I read, every article I examined all said the same thing: You HAVE to have a positive attitude and outlook about this illness! The power if positive thoughts and energy is something that you need to use to help you feel better, and so on and so on. And you know something? I bought into this hook line and sinker. It made sense to me. Why not expect the best? Why not expect to recover? Why not look for the sun instead of the rain? The brain is a powerful thing, why not use it to feel better, at least emotionally? So, that’s what I did. I put on a smile and searched high and low for the joy in every day. Every test result that came back…at least it’s an answer. Every symptom ridden day….would eventually end. Every hard day at work…at least I was able to make it into the classroom and see my students. I built myself up and my spirit grew stronger. I was able to push on because I really did believe that some day I would wake up and feel better. The power of positivity was working. So, what’s the problem with that? With a chronic illness, that golden recovery day doesn’t come quickly, and it. is. exhausting.
I had made it through Christmas Eve dinner hosting at my house, Christmas morning, Christmas day, and Christmas day round two with Paul’s family with relatively no incident. While I didn’t feel well, at all, I was able to push through and celebrate with my family. My kids had a blast and I don’t think they were effected by my illness (which is always my game plan!). Then December 28th arrived. I was exhausted. I was done. I was scared. Scared not so much because I felt so ill (because that happens a lot!) but because my optimism was g-o-n-e gone. I couldn’t even muster up a smile, a glimmer of happiness in my mind. Nothing. My spirit had been broken. I knew before my feet hit the floor that morning that my light had run out. The worst part? It was my daughters 2nd birthday and all she wanted to do was play with her mommy. I dragged myself through a work out, and watched as Sophie opened her gifts, I placed myself in the shower, and that was it. I was done. The tears came out so quickly and with such force I felt like I was going to pass out. My husband had to come in and get me out of the shower (pretty romantic job, I know…) and I collapsed on the floor. I felt hopeless and helpless. I have been sick since the end of May 2014 and I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I was STILL sick. All the positive thoughts in the world hadn’t changed the fact that I am STILL sick. The reality of the situation is that I may be sick for a very, very long time. All the doctors, all the medications, all the happy thoughts…for what? I was stuck in a dangerous black hole of not just sadness, it was more than that, I was totally blank. Luckily I had the smarts to reach out for help. I called my mom and she came right over. She sat on the bathroom floor with me. She listened to me. She cried with me. And luckily, she was able to refocus me.
What did I learn from this breakdown? 1) My mom is my hero. 2) Just because you have a weak moment and the pessimistic thoughts come in, doesn’t mean it’ll be that way forever, you have to just let yourself have that moment and you have to forgive yourself for that. No one can be positive all the time, and that doesn’t mean that you’re giving in and giving up, it means you’re allowing yourself to be whole. Being sick like this is a terrible, exhausting thing, and it’s bound to take it’s toll. I’m pretty sure that our spirits have the ability to be broken down and then be rebooted to be stronger than ever. Today is December 29, and you know what? I’m doing okay today. I can feel the hope is back, and I am recharged and ready to continue this fight.
So, if you are person with a chronic illness I want this to be the take away…pessimism is okay, optimism is okay, and realism is okay, There is room for all 3 mindsets when you’re ill. Just make sure you accept each for what it is and when you can, put the positive thoughts in the forefront. It’s not an easy road to be traveling through life on, but I’m still going to try and make it a happy trip!