People say that bad things happen in threes. I think that saying is a bunch of baloney. Lately, it has felt like bad things are flooding my life. Some days I ask myself, “What else can go wrong?” The universe takes that as a challenge: “I’m glad you asked. Let me show you.”
It’s easy to get caught up in negativity when managing a chronic illness like pulmonary hypertension. Negative thoughts trap me when I am physically unwell and it seems like I can’t take much more. These thoughts are discouraging, depressing, and hurtful, leaving me feeling empty and useless. Once negative thoughts take hold, it can be extremely difficult to pull myself back.
On Halloween, I realized the power of paying attention to others’ positive voices, which help me rediscover positivity amid physical turmoil. While trick-or-treating, I was trying my best to have a great time with my nephew, but I was struggling because I was mentally and physically in a difficult place. My body felt exhausted, thanks to an upper respiratory infection and a migraine recovery. I donned my Wonder Woman costume, shrouded my oxygen tank with a cape, and decided to go out anyway and make the most of the night.
My cousin’s 9-year-old friend boosted my spirits when she told me, “I love your costume and how you dressed up your tank. You’re Wonder Woman! Just like you!”
That comment came at the perfect time, making my night and putting much into perspective. I was feeling so down on myself, so defeated by all my body was enduring and by the negative thoughts coursing through my mind. A positive voice from a 9-year-old reminded me that I was exhibiting strength even while feeling so awful. By being there to wheel my oxygen around the neighborhood, I was Wonder Woman to this little girl.
This encounter made me reflect on other positive words I’ve have heard, which made me ponder the moments that push me forward. I was “Wonder Woman” to someone I barely knew. Friends have commented on my strength even when I don’t believe in it. I have heard stories about how much columns or forum topics I’ve created have helped others. Parents have said how appreciative they are of my vulnerability and that I am a role model for their children.
When in a negative space, I don’t take enough time to reflect on those kind words and my own positive voice gets silenced. I don’t consider the impact I can make by simply getting out there and putting one foot in front of the other, even when it’s hard. It is hard to view myself as “strong” or “inspiring” when I physically feel only weakness. Positive voices remind me that I have a ton of fight left. I am vulnerable and honest, and I persevere even when I feel constantly knocked down.
I needed that reflection time. Negative thinking can collapse into depression. I question my self-worth, my abilities, and why I keep fighting so hard every day. Mental despair throws a blanket over my eyes. Just a glimpse of light from a positive voice can help me see that I am worthy and still have reason to fight.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.