I often find myself being confronted with not-so-great days such as having a flare up of symptoms or just feeling crummy, and it usually ends in me visualizing the worst future for my family and me. All the possibilities, usually negative ones, will enter my mind, and then I slowly become even more frustrated, stressed, and upset. Thinking negative thoughts only adds to the chronic illness. Here is how I changed the negative thoughts, and how to have a positive outlook with a chronic illness.
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Why think negative?
I say it’s because it will help me to better prepare for the worst situation, and when the situation plays out I can’t get upset by the outcome because I’ve already prepared for the worst scenario anyway, right? I mean, that’s what problem solvers do, correct? Find all possible solutions when presented with a problem. (I’m a type A personality that happens to be Aries.)
How a trip to the emergency room changed my thinking
After a weekend trip to the emergency room earlier in the year (and other difficult situations), I have decided to stop that negative way of thinking when it comes to my chronic illness. How did an ER trip change my thinking? I’m glad you asked. I will tell you.
‘My nerves are shot’ is a quite literal statement to people living with chronic pain and FM.
Anyways…when a person living with issues dealing with the nervous system, the slightest stress can cause some damage to the nerves. That is why it’s important to know your limits, set personal boundaries, and eat the right foods for fibromyalgia.
Nerves in my foot
What landed me in the ER on this particular occasion was nerve issues in my foot. At this particular time of the year I was stressed with working on my blog full time while trying to properly care for my loving family. My nerves could not take the stress and started acting out in the form of severe burning, tingling, and numbing in my left foot.
After going through the ER triage, then put in a room, a medical student came in and started taking notes on my symptoms, any possible causes for the problem, and other issues. She stated that I have a lot of medical issues for being only 32. Boy, was she telling me!
I laughed and started joking about me being an old soul in a young body, but still having the old woman aches. She went on to talk about some of my other medical issues *insert boring medical jargon* and I continued to laugh and tell jokes. I mean, what else could I do? She wasn’t telling me anything new and it’s quite depressing when I think about it, but being depressed in public isn’t me.
Alone with my thoughts
Back to the medical student. Before leaving to get the doctor, she told me that I was the “most jovial sick person” she had ever met. She couldn’t believe I live in daily, constant chronic pain and be so “upbeat and cheerful”.
Then she left the room.
Then I was left with my thoughts in that tiny room with no one to laugh and joke with about my medical issues and now burning foot.
That left me with a lot of time to think.
This is what I thought:
“How could she think I’m so cheery? I’m definitely not happy with this burning foot!”
“I’m not an ‘upbeat and cheerful’ person. I hate this pain. I hate living this way.”
“Why do I always have to be the one in the hospital/ER/doctor’s office?”
“When can I catch a break?”
Laughing to myself: “She wouldn’t think I was so cheery if she saw me laid up in the bed crying myself to sleep because of the pain. Or the days when my depression gets so bad that the bed is my only refuge.”
On and on the thoughts came. It was as though the flood gates of negativity opened and my mind was the basin to catch all of it. Then I stopped thinking and started praying. And during my prayer something happened. It wasn’t so dark anymore.
Hey, what was that over there in the dark corner? It appeared to be a teeny tiny pinhole of light penetrating the darkness and drawing me to it.
Oh, my! That light was so bright and so warm and so powerful! I had to have more, so I drew closer. It seemed to be illuminating something. I looked to see what it was pouring its glorious light on. There it was – His comfort. For me. I desperately reached out and snatched it!
Seeking His comfort
It was an absolute relief to have His comfort when I needed it, but it was constantly living in the dark recesses of the negative thoughts. What was the meaning of what just happened?
I was being shown that situations do not have to end in negative thinking or any negativity for that matter.
Here I was living in chronic pain and fibromyalgia among a variety of other medical problems, and this medical student was telling me how positive she thought I was! Imagine that!
Imagine if I was more positive and upbeat and cheery about these medical setbacks. Any setback really.
What if instead of looking at the bad in a situation and searched for the good in it, it will be better just because of the positive thinking? Couldn’t hurt to try, could it? It would most certainly be healthier and less stressful to think positive. And now that I had this overwhelming sense of spiritual empowerment and encouragement, I wanted more.
Two ways to approach a situation
There’s always two sides of a situation and two ways to approach it – negative or positive. Why was I choosing the negative? Why not choose the positive? Why not choose to believe that my God only wants what is best for me? Why not dive into prayer when faced with these negative thoughts?
When I think negative about a situation or a person, in my opinion, it is the devil attacking my spirituality. The devil is constantly attacking, but never doing it directly. The devil has various vessels to attack. In this case, he was using my chronic illness to get to me, when I’m vulnerable and spiritually down.
And it’s not just during the pain that he attacks. He’s attacking when our family’s financial situation is looking bleak or when I’m having a not so good day or whenever he possibly can. He needs to be pushed back when doing this. And that is what I exactly plan on doing.
I’m going to start looking on how I can glorify God in every situation, no matter how difficult it may be. I know the way will not be seen immediately or even after some time, but I will be praying until I find how to do it.
Victory of Battle
The battle ended that day. The battle inside between negative and positive is over. And just like my children go in time out when misbehaving and being bad, so will the devil and his negativity. The devil will take his negativity, sit in the time out chair and stay there.
And just like kids, the devil will find his way out of the corner when I’m not paying attention and go right back to doing what he was doing that got him in trouble in the first place. That’s alright though – I’ll be there to put him right back in that corner.
God has my back. I will do this.
I’m through fighting. This girl is pushing onward and upward.