I’m Positive I’m Ill
Now, I am not an expert when it comes to self analysis. I attempted it a few times, and it has left me quite empty handed. That being said, when I became ill with Adult Onset Still’s Disease, self analysis became a crucial part in navigating this rather new world. At the time I felt quite betrayed and very alone. So, like any twenty-something, I retreated to the Internet.
And it was a mess. There was an influx of information on everything. Everything but my disease, that is. According to webMD, I was suffering with asthma and tendinitis. Simultaneously. Frustrated and honestly a bit amused, I continued my search. I found then a group of young people, started by a young person, where the focus was positivity and camaraderie. I looked at this website and said “Well. I’m positive I’m ill.” And joined before I could fall into another faux diagnosis trap.
I will not lie and say the journey of finding positivity within our selves, our new selves, is a particularly easy journey. There were days I woke up and cursed Henry Gray, a handful of astrophysicist, and that bad glass of milk I had when I was seven years old. Sometimes I blamed a rather horrid paper cut. I think it is very easy for us, especially those of us who are mentally ill, to see positivity as an all consuming thing. The most important thing I learned, however, was the opposite.
It doesn’t have to be.
We do not need to become gallivanting rainbows and smile at every stranger we see. We don’t have to wake up every morning and thank a higher being for that amazing brownie we had the night prior. We don’t have to shake hands with ourselves. Positivity in addition to our illnesses and/or disabilities are as individual as the illnesses and/or disabilities themselves. When I finally allowed myself to learn that being positive did not mean wearing more yellow and spandex glitter pants, I became happier.
Positivity is an individual journey. Each and every one of us will come across it in all manner of different ways. For example, the first time I felt truly positive, happy, in a year is when I crafted quite possibly the most amazing cup of tea I have ever had the privilege to behold. It was in that moment of warmth and self care that I realized, “This is joy.” For the first time in nearly a year, I smiled. Content with my simple act. Proud that these feelings came forth instead of bitterness I was growing so used to.
You, yes, you reading this, will get there one day. If you’re having a bad day, enjoy the way you put your socks on. If it’s a bad pain day, smile at that position you find on your bed that eases the strain. If you’re feeling lonely and isolated, retreat into a book. Your work. You art. Positivity does not mean a permanent tattooed smile. It means accepting our own self worth again, and learning that the small once seemingly insignificant things are truly the things that make us… us. Significant. Important. Full of promise.
This may seem impossible right now, but take it from a nearly twenty-four year old who can hold a grudge for twelve years, you got this. You can do this, and you can most certainly handle it. If the roads bumpy, appreciate a road exists in the first place.
I’m positive I am ill. But I’m positive I matter.
My name is Spencer, I am a freelance writer, blogger, student, and lover of maps.