A woman with a monster on her shoulders scrunches her face and shoulders against an onslaught of positive signs with insect wings.

Acceptance Is Not a Negative

The world of chronic illness seems to be packed with people that are ready to criticize the positivity of those suffering. "If only you were more positive! Your mindset is wrong; you may have MS, but it doesn’t have you!" I’ve been at the MS thing for a while now though, and I admit, MS does sort of have me. It’s a big part of my life, it forced me from my career and many other things. When I talk about it though, when I show acceptance of that fact, the positivity trolls like to strike. So I thought it was time for me to mention that just because you accept something, it doesn’t mean you’re being negative.

Denial

I never understood the whole idea of denying what’s happening to us. In many cases, it’s clear as day. There are lesions on an MRI, or you have optic neuritis, or you can’t walk, or any number of in-the-real world aspects of the disease that prove that it’s real. I’ve seen so many people put off dealing with their illness until it gave them no choice, leaving them too far behind when it comes to treatment. There are still others that may not be denying it, but they certainly aren’t very accepting of it. They fancy themselves as doing something despite their disease. If that works for you, that’s great, but please realize that isn’t helpful to everyone.

Acceptance

While some people see themselves as doing something in spite of their disease, it’s affected me enough that I prefer to say I do something with my disease. Though I guess in reality, I just do something. My illness is a big part of my life; it’s inseparable from nearly every aspect at this point, so I talk about it often. It is far from the only part of my life though. While I vent my frustrations with my disease, I often vent about other things as well (like how the Eagles need to get their sh*t together and how the Phillies waited too long to fire their manager).

Talking about a negative topic isn't being negative

There’s something about talking about my illness though that can get people a little riled up. I’ve been shamed for not being positive enough. I’ve gotten plenty of “sad faces” on my remarks, too. I promise, just because I’m talking about a topic that some may consider a negative does not mean I am being negative about it. I simply talk about things a bit more than most; that helps me deal with them, it doesn’t mean I have a bad attitude (if you want to hear negative, ask me how I feel about the Eagles’ much-maligned secondary).

You do you

So, if there is anything I’m trying to say here, it’s this: people are different. If you think they are being “negative,” take a step back and try to see it from their perspective. Talking about the ins and outs of our illness doesn’t mean we’re not being positive enough. For people like me, it’s my way of owning it. To me, the negative aspects of my disease are just parts of my life. Yes, I b*tch about them at times, just the way some people complain about aspects of their job. Much of the time, I’m just discussing those details because whether I like it or not, they’re a part of me.

Accepting, adapting, and moving on

Maybe it’s me, but I don’t quite see how accepting what’s happened to me, adapting, and moving on is a negative. Always remember, people have the right to deal with their illness in whatever way works for them, and for many people like me, blind positivity simply doesn’t work.

Thanks so much for reading and always feel free to share!

Devin

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