The Negativity Surrounding Positivity
NB I don’t have a critical illness so this is a post responding to negativity surrounding positivity as a way of helping those suffering with panic attack disorders, anxiety and mild depression.
Lately, I have come across one or two blog posts slating positivity and I am sure there are plenty more out there. The blogs I read were full of anger and animosity, written by people suffering with mental illnesses and others with physical illnesses. The authors were unhappy because they had been told to try thinking positivity as a way of easing their suffering. One blogger said that this kind of response was unhelpful and she would rather the person would just keep their mouth shut. She said positivity wouldn’t help her and it wasn’t a miracle cure.
Okay, I do get the response, somewhat. When you’re in the grips of depression or suffering from a critical illness the first reaction to someone suggesting thinking positivity probably involves the f word. How can a bit of positivity cure you?
Now, on a personal level I can honestly say that positivity played a huge role in my recovery. I had been suffering with severe panic attack disorder and agoraphobia for over 2 decades. 20 years of my life effectively stolen by my mental state. I made humongous leaps and bounds using positive thinking and today I effectively manage my disorder in a way that allows me to go out and no longer live in the shadow of anxiety and panic attacks. Thinking positively changed my life. But while that sounds simple, I can assure you it really wasn’t and it certainly wasn’t a miracle cure.
Thinking positively is not going to change you over night. I spent about a year or so just thinking about being positive before I really put it into action. I actually considered myself a positive person, I was happy in my own way but I wasn’t able to function ‘normally’. I began replacing negative thoughts with positive ones – hundreds of times a day.
“What if I have a panic attack?” would pop into my head and I would push it out, replacing it with “What if I have fun?”
“I can’t do it, I won’t be able to cope” would be replaced by “I’ll go give it a try, if I fail I can remove myself from the situation”…and so on.
It is very hard to accept positivity and even believe that it will have an impact on your life. It is even harder putting the action of positivity into play in your own life. You’re effectively retraining your brain to think in a whole new way and that my friend takes work and commitment especially if you’ve been suffering for many years. I also believe that some people are ready for the journey and others aren’t (my build up to using positivity took years). But just because you aren’t ready or perhaps you don’t believe it doesn’t mean it’s the work of the devil and that anyone suggesting the process deserves to burn in hell.
I’m not angry at the people who hate positivity, but I do feel their hatred for others who are trying to help is unjust. Often, these people feel helpless in aiding your recovery. Sometimes, these people have used it in their own lives and experienced the effectiveness first hand. At the end of the day, these people aren’t belittling your suffering, they are trying to help and that is never a bad thing and should never be taken lightly or for granted. I have so many people who have walked away from me because they didn’t like or understand my condition. They gave up and some didn’t really try in the first place.
Positivity worked for me and it has worked for others. It wasn’t easy, it took a very long time and it is something I still work on today. It doesn’t change you in days or even weeks but over time you’ll notice small adjustments and then very big ones. When I suggest positivity I do so knowing that it takes such a huge amount of mental effort that is exhausting, but it is worth it. It is also something to use with other techniques. I combine it with walking and taking Vitamin B’s.
You may not feel that positivity will help you and you might not quite be ready to try it and that’s fine. But perhaps, one day, you’ll remember the suggestion and decide that it is time to try it. Perhaps you’ll give it up quickly and come to return to it in years to come. That’s okay. Perhaps you’ll never try it yourself, that’s okay too, it’s your choice. But please understand that those suggesting it to you are doing to from a place of love and caring.