Reframing – language and thought
Positive Reframing can be thought of as the skill of seeing the upside of every situation. Yes, a skill. And just like any skill, it can be learned. When this was first suggested to me, I thought “Nah. Nope… No. Way. My illness drains everything good in my life”.
I was overly consumed with being sick and the harsh reality that my life had become. This illness had taken so much from me. My fiancé. My friends. My job. University. My ability to write and think and speak. Essentially, everything that I had used to identify as a personal strength; everything that I held dear and used to define my self-identity; everything that I was proud of about myself… Was gone.
I lost the ability to feel like I was worth anything. I was so entrenched in what my family may think if I went on a benefit. What would my Mum say when I wasn’t able to look after myself any longer? I was addicted to my previous life and holding on to that dream with the last of my energy.
But that life was never to be.
It took a significant death in my life to shake me to my core. I thought to myself, in my deep depression and utterly overwhelming grief, that I had just had the worst day of my life. Things could not ever be worse. And I believe that to this day. I cry writing this, but I know it’s the sign of having something so wonderful in my life. And I feel lucky. I feel lucky to have felt unconditional love. Lucky to have amazing memories. I started to become grateful for anything and everything positive. I started actively looking for the good stuff, the stuff in life that makes you happy. Being sick and being happy are not mutually exclusive. You can be in pain, while still actively looking for the joys in life. Believe me, they are there. Even if, sometimes, they are bittersweet.
Now, most of my friends think of me as happy, outgoing, and positive (which in itself warms my heart – I have friends now!). Even my new, awesome, GP. She encouraged me to reach out to CCIS, and to speak with others with chronic illness. Support is utterly crucial to deal with Chronic Illness, but the first layer of support must come from within yourself. Our thoughts and way we speak to ourselves sets the stage for support from others to build upon. I’m sick of being sick, but at least I get to sleep in as long as I like. I get to play video games and pursue forgotten passions. I get to completely redefine my sense of self. I find pleasure in the small things and nature and anything good. It’s not just empowering, it’s truly wonderful.