I’m Heila, and I was diagnosed with MS just two years ago. Since then, people would always tell me not to lose hope and to practice positivity, but none of them has ever told me how. It actually frustrates me when they tell me this, saying something without really knowing what they’re talking about.
I soon realized that I myself had to seek ways to remain hopeful despite my illness. I’ve read about people like me who managed to live a happy life. They spend time with family and even travel with them, and I want that for myself too. I never want to sulk with sadness about something that I didn’t do – it just happened to me. I want to remain hopeful for my husband and my only daughter.
These are some of the ways that I have found and practiced to keep me hopeful and positive despite my chronic illness. I wish that if you or someone you know has MS, this will serve as a guide and inspiration to live the same way I do now.
Ways To Stay Positive Even With A Chronic Illness
- Prepare some positive statements to replace the negative ones. The vital point to remember is to be aware of your thoughts. Once you begin to drift away and think of guilt, anger, jealousy, or hatred, close your eyes, take a deep breath and compose a positive statement that would help you fight and win over the negative thoughts and feelings. “When you harness the power of positivity, it’s amazing the impact it has on your life. It can decrease stress and make every moment worth experiencing,” Tchiki Davis, Ph.D. wrote.
An example would be when your friends invite you over for a party, and you want to go home because it is very cold. You complain and regret why you went out with them, yet come to think of it. If you stayed home, you would stay awake all night watching television, bingeing, and crying over the cheating boyfriend who left you. And then you think, “Thank God that there’s only the cold that I need to tolerate – not the pain and the loneliness.”
- Be Grateful For The Small Successes. With an illness like multiple sclerosis, waking up in the morning feeling very little pain is something to thank for, so if you have a few days like these, be grateful. Smile. Sometimes, we tackle such big issues in life that we forget to appreciate the simple gifts – of family, shelter, television, and chocolates! When you contemplate on your day and you were able to smell the flowers in your garden, take an afternoon walk with your favorite coffee, joined your family for a wonderful dinner, then you have won over your illness – today. Tomorrow is another day, and you will try again. “Gratitude is an affirmation of the goodness in one’s life and the recognition that the sources of this goodness lie at least partially outside the self,” Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. says.
- Take Control Over Your Stress. Everyone, including those who do not have a disease, is not spared from stress. They come in many forms. You may experience them at work, in school, relationships, and in my case, tackling a chronic illness. No one lives a stress-free life, no matter how much protein shake you drink and meditations you do. Andy Tix Ph.D. emphasized that, “In order to respond effectively to life stressors, we must realize we have at least some control—if nothing else, over our attitudes.”
Perhaps you can try and manipulate stress. When you encounter a new stress from a problem, decide whether it is something that you can change or do something about. If it’s something inevitable and there’s nothing you can do to modify it, then it’s really not something to be stressed about. It is a waste of your time, mental strength, and emotions.
Another strategy you can try is to use stress as a motivation. It makes you work harder to get a promotion. It can encourage you to study and get higher grades. And it can push you to fight and be more determined to survive and live happily despite your disease.
If these three suggestions do not work, please do seek help from a mental health professional. You will need all the physical, emotional and mental strength you can get in battling multiple sclerosis or other chronic diseases.