While no one has ever questioned my ability to stay positive during my struggles with chronic illness, well, as positive as I can be, even though I know life isn’t butterflies, rainbows, and unicorns just yet, I think a big part of my healing is a positive attitude. I chose this topic because it is February, and Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. If you don’t already, it is time to love yourself. 🙂
Having Lyme disease, a lot of the odds are against us in a variety of ways. There are many reasons for cognitive and psychiatric conditions that can be out of our control, and here are some of the common causes I shared on a past blog. https://kimmiecakeskickslyme.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/connection-between-lyme-cognitive-issues-and-psychiatric-disorder/
Everyone has their bad days. In reality, they can be some of the worst days of your life, feelings that there is no hope. I am a firm believer that all the antibiotics, herbals, supplements cannot heal you if you don’t have the right mindset to fight this disease. Some scientific studies show that carrying this attitude really does aid in getting back to good health.
No one wants to be in a bad situation. And being positive doesn’t necessarily mean being that was 24/7 , because that is just plain unrealistic. A part of being positive is how how handle a terrible situation. You might not be able to change the way things are, but you can always make the most of it. It is all how you look at the world. That is positivity.
There was an amazing man I met at Dr J’s office. His story was a terribly sad one, but he always kept a smile on his face. This is exactly what I am talking about. You can do it no matter what your situation is. https://kimmiecakeskickslyme.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/the-man-in-a-wheelchair/ I was amazed that although he was literally going through hell, he was happy. Happy for the little things in life. I learned a lot from listening to his story.
You don’t get it until you get it. I know nothing can be more annoying than people who don’t get it tell you to be more upbeat, or to be more positive, and then POOF, all your ailments are healed, and somehow the spirochetes will just shrivel and die. This is simply not true, as much as I would like it to be, since I would have saved A LOT of money, not missed out on my mid-twenties, and endured a lot less pain and suffering than I had to. This is a decision to make on your own.
No one can tell you how to feel, or how you should. Everyone has many different feelings throughout this process. Depressed, frustrated, confused, hopeless, and being scared are all feelings we are entitled to. It is working through them and remaining strong that is the important part in this.
Scientific studies show that when someone is positive, their brain is more productive, engaged and motivated, which in turn brings better health. Us Lymies certainly need all the brain help we can get! Some studies believe that positivity is a bunch of hoopla, but suggested being realistic was more beneficial. That is surely understandable. But many of us, even though it seems gloom and doom, can one day reach a point of remission. I now I will get there one day! The bottom line is that although positivity may not give you a “cure” , it can certainly help you out, as emotional well being is a part of better health.
A study of Parkinson’s patients showed that having positive illness perceptions and optimism helped create a better well-being for themselves. In fact, it was believed that their attitude had a significant effect on the relationship between their illness, and their outcomes. The researchers believed that it helped provide some protection against their negative perceptions of illness and optimism would be a beneficial target for therapy.
I thought of some ideas (with the help of a few sources) that might be able to help to get on the right track to positive thinking.
I have said the phrase “mind over matter” probably a million times throughout my blog. I understand limitations, believe me I do. At one point I couldn’t even bathe myself and certainly had my fair share of wheelchair time. Let’s not forget my verbal and physical tics. Even now, there are a lot of things I just plain can’t do, physically. Light and sound sensitivities can trigger seizures, and I don’t foresee me running a marathon… or even walking around the mall at the moment. But I do what I can. I force myself to go to work. Money doesn’t fall from trees, and the lottery hasn’t picked my numbers just yet. But doing what I can, even if I feel like I am on the brink of death brings me positivity as I have some sense of normalcy, and I feel like I have conquered the world even if it is running an errand, or going to my desk job for just a couple hours. It might help you out too.
Write down the good. Seriously, just do it. I do a lot of writing, as you can tell because you are glued to my blogs… right? Right. Research shows that if you write down three things you are thankful for everyday, for a period of three weeks, it actually rewires your brain for optimism. Worth a shot right?
Research also shows that writing something down that is positive within your past 24 hours in detail for three weeks can be very beneficial. The brain does not distinguish visualization and actual experience together, so this will help keep that positivity going.
Don’t fall into the trap. This one is a biggie. I feel like being sick or in pain for so long, you learn to accept it. NEVER DEFINE YOURSELF AS YOUR DISEASE. You aren’t your disease. Don’t accept it, and fight like hell. Do not ever give up or lose faith.
Cut the fat. Get rid of that negativity in your life. Everyone has that bad friend or family member that is unsupportive of you.
Anywho, we all have that person. Or persons. I have had a “friend” that hadn’t seen me in months, nor ask how I was doing, and appeared out of the blue when she needed money. LOL. Snip snip, trim the fat. A “friend”, who I was really hurt by since I expected more from him had said some awful things about me and my illness. I brought it upon myself when I had a very bad seizure over the summer. I pick and choose when I am well. Fuck you. Snip snip. It is hurtful and tough, but in the long run you are doing yourself a favor.
Talk to someone if you need to. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing everything with a friend, spouse, or family member, there are a lot of supportive online groups. Talk to a minister, or a therapist. Getting those feelings out is really important. Don’t be afraid to look for help if you need it.
Do something you love every single day. Yes, it might not be that jog or an intense gym session, but there are other things that you can certainly do. Watch a funny movie. It is uplifting. Who the hell doesn’t like a funny movie? 🙂 If you are into knitting, knit. Some light yoga? A warm bath? For myself, it is writing. If you haven’t tried writing, it is a good release. Even if it is just for you, and not for the world to see. According to Achor, doing these activities for just 15 minutes a day is the equivalent of taking an antidepressant with a 30 percent relapse over two years. Powerful and simple medicine, folks!
ALWAYS have a sense of humor. It helps get through the worst of times. Why do you think I call my arm tics the “thriller dance”? It terrifies me that I have no control over my body at times, but making light of it makes it easier and not seem so bad. Laugh a little. It is good for the soul.
I will say, don’t have unrealistic expectations. You will set yourself up for heartbreak. Know that remission take time, and doesn’t happen overnight. It can be a lengthy process. Take each day step by step. You will get there. Celebrate the small achievements along the way.
Most of all, never lose hope. 🙂
http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23510498, foxnews.com, chroniccurve.tumblr.com, focusonthefamily.com, psychologytoday.com