Staying Positive with Chronic Illness ✊

(upbeat acoustic music) – Hi y’all. I’m Jaquie from Chronically Jaquie, and this is my service dog Harlow. As a person who battles
multiple chronic illnesses, I’m often asked how do
you stay so positive? My positive thinking seems
to be a part of who I am, and I use it to my advantage
as often as possible. But after being asked that
question quite a few times, I’ve come to realize there
are a few things I do that contribute to my positivity. I’m going to share my personal practices for remaining positive
in the face of adversity. It may not work for everyone and in no way do I
intend to put anyone down who may be struggling with their outlook, because emotions of all kinds
are a natural part of life. But maybe I can help someone
else by sharing what helps me. In the description, you’ll
find a lot of helpful resources and links to other videos I have made, and there’s a table of contents. So if you want to go
to a specific section, the table of contents will
take you straight to it. I know staying positive isn’t always easy, and it’s unrealistic to
never feel negative emotions. At times, I get sad and
frustrated and discouraged. But striving for a positive outlook is what helps me keep moving forward, and maybe this video will
help you do the same. So let’s get started. (upbeat acoustic music) Focus on the positives, celebrate, and be grateful. Three things that are
very important to me. It may sound like simple advice, but it’s not so simple to carry through, because it’s true. Life with chronic illness can
be filled with many negatives. I’m not saying they don’t exist. What I am saying is that I
choose to focus on the positives rather than letting the
negatives overshadow me. I believe that every situation can have at least one positive factor, no matter how minor it might be. Even on my scariest, hardest days, I strive to reflect on
the good that occurred. If you need to, brainstorm. Think of all the possible
positive spinoffs that can come from a
less-than-ideal situation. Focusing on the positives is something that I’ve practiced heavily since I really began my
chronic illness journey, and I think it’s because having the fear and frustration and
sorrow totally consume me was more terrifying than
my illnesses themselves. Because I know that I
can live a happy life and be a chronic illness warrior. These two things can coincide. So I strive for that positive outlook. It’s not always easy, but the more I did it, the easier it became and the
happier I was and still am. Celebrating is also so important to me. I’m not talking about
throwing a huge party for every little success, but take the time to acknowledge them. Life is already hard, and chronic illnesses just
further complicate things. Even the simplest of
tasks can become daunting on bad health days. So don’t neglect your hard work. Take the time to celebrate those victories and acknowledge them. Did you accomplish anything
on your to-do list today? Celebrate. Only managed to check one item off? Still great. Didn’t get anything done? No worries. Were you struggling to
get out of bed today and eventually put yourself together? Focus on that. And if today is one of those days where you weren’t able to get out of bed, you made it to the end of the day and that’s always worth celebrating. Remember that as chronic illness warriors, everything we accomplish is done while in a body that is
constantly working against us, and that definitely means something. I don’t put myself down for what I didn’t accomplish in a day. Instead, I focus on what I did do and the fact that I
gave it my best effort. I focus on celebrating even
the smallest of victories. Thankfulness also helps
me remain positive. Being grateful for what I do have helps me feel less upset
about what I don’t have. I don’t always have the ability to walk, but I’m thankful for tools
that help with my mobility. I don’t have the ability to stop my life-threatening angioedema attacks, but I’m thankful for
medications that keep me alive. Instead of focusing on what I don’t have, what I cannot do, and what isn’t fair, I choose to focus on what I do have, what I can do, and the blessings bestowed up me. (upbeat acoustic music) Keep a healthy perspective. To me, this means having
a firm understanding of what I can and cannot change. One thing that comes with chronic illness is a lack of control. How will I feel when I
wake up in the morning? Will I be able to make it
to dinner with friends? Is this new medication gonna give me the relief I really need? Lack of control over chronic illnesses can be very frustrating, and when we can’t follow through on plans because of symptoms acting up or we do less than ideal health-wise, we can become discouraged. Strongly establishing the difference between what I can and cannot
control has greatly helped me. Assuming I’m doing all
I can for my health, keeping up with treatment
plans and whatnot, I know I can’t control how much pain I’m gonna be in when I
wake up in the morning. I cannot control what
symptoms I will experience and how severe they will
be on any given day. I cannot control when I will be in a flare and when I will be
having a good health day. And that’s okay, because that
is life with chronic illness. After differentiating between
what I can and cannot control, I then focus on what I can do. I may not be able to walk through Disney, but I can still enjoy
it from a wheelchair. I may not have 100% perfect health, but I can follow treatment protocols to keep my body as functional as possible. I may not be able to
control when I’m in a flare or I’m going to have a good health day, but when I’m in a flare, I can allow my body to
rest so it can recuperate, and when I’m having a good health day, I can take advantage of that relief. Life with chronic illness is hard and we’re not going to win every battle. That’s okay. It’s unrealistic to think
we will win every battle. But there are battles we will succeed in, and that is what we can
focus on and celebrate. I do not feel guilty for things
that are out of my control. Why should I? Because nothing I can do will alter it. It’s literally out of my control. Letting go of misplaced guilt
will relieve a huge burden. My chronic illnesses already
give me enough trouble. I don’t need to add to
the grief with guilt that really isn’t warranted. Keeping a healthy perspective
also means knowing my realistic abilities. I know there is a limit
as to how many things I can accomplish in one day. I know that limit may vary
based on how I’m feeling. I know there are things
I cannot do at all, and that’s okay. I know there are other
things I can do with help, and there are things that I
can do very well on my own. Setting realistic goals
sets me up for success rather than being disappointed with myself for not accomplishing an impossible task. When I accomplish these realistic goals, I feel productive, and productivity is one
sure way to lift my spirits. If I’m feeling discouraged
or held back by my health, reaching a set goal always
makes me feel more empowered. But of course I dream big. I do have those larger goals that seem too far out of reach right now, but they motivate me to work
hard and keep moving forward in order to get to where I want to be. (upbeat acoustic music) Embrace your reality. Acceptance is a big part of my happiness. Yes, I’m always striving
to improve my health in any way possible, finding answers, sticking
to treatment protocols, finding better treatment plans as the nature of my
illnesses change over time, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that this is my life now. My reality entails chronic illness. I can’t ignore it and I can’t change it, so I choose to embrace it. Ignoring it would only hinder me. My health could spiral
dangerously out of control if I didn’t work to keep a handle on it. So by embracing the fact that yes, chronic illness is present in my life, then I can do everything in my
power to make the best of it. At the same time, chronic illness is only a part of my life. Yes, it demands a lot of time
and effort and attention, but it’s still only a part of me. There are many other
wonderful things in my life that have nothing to do with my health, and that’s also a part of my reality. It’s not all just chronic illness. There is so much more to life as well. Part of embracing my reality also means embracing my reality, not the one I had before my
chronic illnesses progressed. Not the one of my friend or
neighbor or family member. None other than my current reality. That just means that I
have struggles unique to me and I can’t compare my
successes and setbacks to someone else who has a
completely different story and vice versa. Even if we share the same diagnosis, we will not have the exact same path, because each chronic illness journey is very individual to the warrior. Comparing myself to others would only be a huge disservice to all the effort I’m already put forward. That also means not being hard on myself for not being able to accomplish things I used to be able to do. Because chronic illnesses
can change over time. They can progress. And the sooner I learned to
embrace my current reality, the happier I was. But at the same time, occasionally I’ll find
that I can do things now that I couldn’t before. It can go both ways. Because chronic illnesses
don’t only get worse. Sometimes they stay the same. Sometimes you’re in a
flare that’s temporary, and when you find yourself in a flare, embrace your reality for that flare. And sometimes chronic
illnesses can improve. So it is what it is. My life is my life. There may be some things I can’t change that I dislike about it, but there are also things I
love that I would never change. Everyone has good and bad in their life. I just strive to make the
best out of what I have. My husband likes to say if you
can’t change your situation, change your attitude. I like this advice because there are a lot of things I can’t change. So I like to focus on the
things I have more control of, like my perspective. Life is a certain percentage
of what happens to you, and the rest is how you react to it. My chronic illnesses are
something that happened to me. I had no way to prevent and
I have no way to change it. But I can choose to use
them to my advantage, to utilize them as motivators
to live my life to the fullest and make every moment meaningful. Acceptance is a powerful tool. Instead of wishing for things
to be the way they are not, I’m choosing to embrace my reality, and that’s definitely
contributing to my happiness. (upbeat acoustic music) Feel all your emotions. I’ve said it before. Chronic illness is hard. You won’t win every battle, and that’s totally okay. But what happens when you
don’t win that battle? Sometimes I can brush it off, but other times it isn’t that easy. Living life in a body that is
constantly working against you can be frustrating, discouraging, exhausting, and so much more. I don’t remain in these emotions, but it would be unwise to
completely shut them out. When I need to, I let the frustration in. I cry. I shout, it’s not fair. Because it isn’t fair. Having chronic illnesses
can really suck at times. Everyone eventually needs
a moment to themselves to just be whatever. Sad, mad, overwhelmed. It’s okay. Breaking down is not a sign of failure, but rather a sign of being human. When these moments happen, I allow the emotions in. I feel what I need to feel. It’s healthy. It’s actually part of how I
cope with my chronic illnesses. But then I find what makes me happy. It can be as simple as
snuggling with my pup or maybe an impromptu trip to
go get my favorite ice cream, or maybe just spending
some time with a loved one. Find that one thing that
will lift your spirits. I’m not saying it’ll fix everything, but once you start going
in the right direction, it’ll be easier to keep moving forward. Something else that
helps me is always having something to look forward to. It doesn’t need to be a big ordeal, but still something that excites me. Maybe I’m treating myself
to a pedicure this weekend. Maybe a date night with my husband, or just dedicating special time to binge watch my new
favorite series on Netflix. Having something to look forward to helps keep me motivated, and it helps me move forward
even when things become hard. Another thing that makes me happy and helps motivate me is my faith. I’m a person of strong faith and it gives me peace among the chaos of my chronic illness journey. I never try to impose my views on others, and I’m accepting of
other people’s religious or non-religious practices, but my faith does help
me a lot in my battles, so I wanted to share. So yes, sometimes I do lose my battles and I can’t stay positive all the time. And that’s totally okay. It’s healthy to experience
emotions of all kinds, positive and negative. Just know you are completely validated in whatever you may be
feeling at any given time. To me, it doesn’t matter if I slow down. Life does that to you sometimes, especially when chronic
illness is involved. What’s important to me is
that I keep moving forward, no matter how slowly, because at the very least I’m still headed in the right direction. (upbeat acoustic music) Create a supportive environment. Having a good support
system is crucial to me. I don’t know what I’d
do without my husband, my family, my friends, and Harlow, of course. I’m not saying you need a huge network, but having a few close
loved ones to rely on can be really beneficial. Sometimes my loved ones don’t
exactly know how to help me, and that’s totally okay, because caring for my medical conditions can get really complicated at times. So I’ve found that being direct and explaining what they can
do to help me works best. I’m also sure to ask
for help when I need it instead of waiting for someone to offer, because my loved ones want to assist me but they may not always
know when it’s appropriate, because some days I’m more
independent than others. So I’ve found that being direct in how and when my loved ones can help me works best for everyone. Support can come in many different forms. Maybe it’s just helping
out with household chores or giving me assistance up the stairs, helping me take a shower that night, or just listening to me
vent on a really hard day, or just going out on a
fun adventure together. One thing I do really enjoy
my loved ones to do with me is to accompany me to
doctor’s appointments, procedures, and other various things, because it’s nice to have their presence, their support, and an extra set of ears to remember things I may forget. And with my loved ones in the appointment, they can learn more about
my medical conditions from my physicians themselves, and they have a chance to
ask their own questions to the doctor. Plus any discussions I
have with my medical team we can all have together. And of course, I’m always sure to show my loved ones my gratitude. Now I understand that some people may not currently have
any support in their life. If that’s the case, I highly recommend finding others who understand what you’re going through, and one great way to do this
is through support groups, either in person or online. Your local area may have
in-person support groups that you don’t know about yet. Ask your doctor offices
and do some research of your own to find out. Facebook and other online options also have good support groups. You can find thousands of people who understand your struggle because they’re facing similar challenges. Connect with others, form friendships, and you’ll have a place to go for support. Of course, always exercise
caution when meeting new people, either online or in person. When you have people in
your life that you rely on, you can do something wonderful. You can add meaning to
somebody else’s life, and a sense of purpose like that definitely contributes to my happiness. As important as it is to add
beneficial people to your life, I find it equally imperative to remove others who are negative. Life with chronic illness is already hard. You do not need any further complications. So if anyone is putting you down, invalidating your struggles, making you feel guilty for things that are out of your control, or just adding any undue stress, remove them from your life. Now you may be thinking, but they’re my parents, my siblings, my significant other, or my best friend. Listen, I’ve had to remove
a very close family member for an extended period of time, and it was heartbreaking, one of the hardest things
I’ve ever had to do. But in all honesty, I was better off for it, because it was necessary so
I could focus on my health and other aspects of my life. Do what is best for you. It’s okay. I honestly feel that it’s important to prioritize your own well-being
in situations like this, especially when you already have to put a lot of energy and focus
on maintaining your health. Fostering a supportive environment is a key component to my happiness. Life already gives me enough stress and I don’t need negative
individuals adding to it. So I surround myself
with supportive people and remove anyone who behaves otherwise. It’s not always easy, but maintaining a supportive environment has benefited me immensely. Well, that’s it. These are the things I do to stay positive while living in a body that’s
constantly working against me. Yes, I do try to follow my own advice, but no, it’s not possible
to do so 100% of the time. There are hard days and
there are sad feelings. I let those happen when needed. But there are good days and
there are happy feelings, and that’s what I choose to focus on. Again, I am not putting anyone
down who may be struggling. Your feelings are validated. We all walk our own unique paths that no one can truly
understand except ourselves, so no judgment here. But I wanted to share what helps me in the hopes that it
might help someone else. Thank you for watching. I hope you found this
video to be beneficial, and whatever your battles may be, fellow warrior, keep moving forward. (upbeat acoustic music)

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