Living with chronic illness and disability can make staying positive difficult at times. Something I always tell newly diagnosed MSers when I speak with them in my volunteer role as “welcomer” on shift.ms, is to just let yourself feel however you do in that moment. Your feelings are valid, and people constantly telling you to “keep positive” and “look on the bright side” can start to feel dismissive and not respectful of your real emotions. It’s a scary thing to go through, and that feeling might get better with time, but it may just always be there in the back of your mind. What will happen? Where will I be in 5 years? Ten? Will I ever feel stable again? These are all valid questions, and it’s okay to not feel positive 100% of the time.
I do try my best to be a positive person in general though, and I’m thankful and happy for the good things I have in my life. I’m so lucky in so many ways, I have my family supporting me, and have found the love of my life who I get to share every day with. Things are good. But there are still days where I mourn the life I imagined I would one day have, and feel sad that I can’t do all of the things I wish I could. Sometimes I feel lonely, and angry, and that’s okay. It’s okay to feel down about things. It’s just not possible to always be the happy, inspirational person that other people expect you to be. Being diagnosed with a debilitating disease doesn’t mean you owe it to the world to inspire them with your perseverance. Sometimes just getting through the day is all you can do, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Celebrating the small successes are just as important as the big ones. This is key for me, to be proud of the things I do accomplish. Cooking dinner, doing the laundry, or getting out of the house for a bit on a bad day may be seemingly small things to the other people, but to someone with chronic illness, all things to be proud of! Reminding myself of that helps me to feel more positive every day.
Having MS, and other chronic illness, SUCKS. It’s okay to recognize that. I think what matters most is what you do with those emotions. Feel them, talk through them, take time to yourself and maybe even let yourself wallow a little bit now and then, but then pick yourself up and move through it. Sometimes you need to just ask yourself, what can I do to be kind to myself today? Maybe it’s taking some time to meditate, and breathe, or maybe it’s just spending some time doing something you love! Whatever you do, just remember that it’s okay to feel negatively sometimes, but try to remember that you are not alone in this, and tomorrow is a new day. Celebrate those small victories and be proud of yourself for getting through!