The Different Mindsets of Coping with Illness

When living with a chronic illness, I find my mind drifting into various stages, emotions and feelings. I often get comments from people, praising my strength and positivity, solely for having an illness. I find this odd considering they assume that I must be all these things, because otherwise, how would I cope? This got me thinking, some days I feel strong and positive, but some days I feel depressed, anxious, and uninspired. The entire experience is a rollercoaster, but I don’t think I can cope in only one way. Especially when cystic fibrosis (CF) exists within me for my entire life.

Positivity and CF

Positive thinking is the highly coveted option to aim for. It seems to give me the most hope in the darkest days. I find it easier to put on a positive attitude versus authentically feeling it. The feeling can come naturally if I hear good news about my health, such as my lung function rising, my weight staying on or my blood tests coming back clean.

But it’s the days in between appointments that I struggle with feeling positive the most. I try to remind myself that though I may feel alone, I’m not alone. There are so many people with CF experiencing the same feelings that I do, and without CF, I would not have met so many amazing people in this community. Despite the bad days, there is a lot in my life to be grateful for, and reminding myself of those things, whether it’s journaling, talking or thinking, really helps. There is always a bright side if I look hard enough.

Negativity and CF

The dark side is a side that I feel sometimes I can’t come back from. It creeps up on me and pushes me down. As much as I want to be filled with gratitude, be the inspiration, be the positive thinker, I cannot do this all the time. I have to let my guard down. The reality is, CF is bad. It makes my life a living hell sometimes. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I don’t want it anymore and I never have. But when I feel like this, there’s only one way to go and that's up. Rock bottom is called rock bottom for a reason.

Some days, I have no energy for positive thinking. I cannot see the bright side no matter how hard I try. I just want to say, this sucks! That is 100% okay. It is always valid to feel sadness, depressed, annoyed and frustrated when it comes to illness.

In fact, I believe it helps. I have to let myself feel this way because if I don’t, if I fake it all the time, I will never be able to fully enjoy the good times. So let this serve as a reminder to let yourself feel what you need to feel, for your future self to be able to enjoy life. Let yourself.

Being realistic

It’s easy to sink into my emotions and revel in them. Reminding myself what is real and what is not, helps me. For me, I may feel threatened by my illness, but I have lived with it my entire life. At this point in time, it is predictable. Feeling a lack of hope for the future is only a feeling. I have to remind myself of all the research happening, while I eat and sleep.

All of the progress made in the last decade for people like me. This is a tactic I learnt from therapy. Asking myself what the probability of this emotion or thought of actually happening. It helps me remain calm and understand that sometimes, my feelings are only feelings. They are valid and it is OK to feel.

What are your positive and negative days like with CF? Share with us below!

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