So what is the purpose of mindfulness?
Maybe you can see that it’s worked a bit for me, and maybe you’ve even noticed that taking a few minutes out every day to de-stress and just think about what you need has worked for you, too.
And maybe it hasn’t yet, and that’s okay.
What works for some doesn’t always work for others.
However, it is a process, and if you find something that works for you, even a little bit, I think it’s something you should consider sticking with.
So, other than my therapist’s suggestion, what made me consider practicing mindfulness?
Well, to be honest, it’s this constant, toxic “be positive” mentality that too many people have, and how so many physically healthy and neurotypical people think that chronically ill (either mentally, physically or both) people are just not positive enough.
And before I tell you exactly why chronically ill people are the most fucking positive people in the world, I also want to explain just how toxic this mentality is to just about fucking everyone and why you need to fucking stop, I just need to say to all the people in the world that keep doing this: Fuck off.
Firstly, this whole, constant “be positive” attitude is actually demeaning.
What you’re offering to people isn’t even empathy.
You’re dismissing very real, very serious situations.
You know how we have such high depression and suicide rates?
Because it’s not enough to just ask R U OK on one fucking day a year.
You need to make sure you’re offering actual support and actual empathy.
I am sick. I will never truly get better. This is my new normal.
It’s hard, and frustrating, and sometimes I get angry, and sometimes I get depressed, but it’s my reality.
I get up every single damn day, and I do something. Sometimes I can handle only the basic of tasks, but other times I can do a lot more.
But do you know how many people assume I’m better if I have a good day?
Do you know how many people think that I’m well because I went shopping with them, or went to the movies, or played board games?
Almost all of them.
They don’t see the spoons it takes to just stand.
You see getting ready to go out as one task, but for someone like me, it’s not.
I have to weigh up, before I even get in the shower, how many spoons I have.
Can I afford to put makeup on today? Or will that take too much energy I don’t have?
I need to shave my legs. Can I stand long enough for that to be a realistic goal?
I haven’t washed my hair in weeks, but I’m just so tired. Is there any point?
These are small things, but I guarantee you, it’s something that goes through every chronically ill person’s mind.
Brushing teeth can be an effort.
Going to the toilet can be an effort.
Eating can be an effort.
Everything is an effort.
But let’s stop and rewind for a second.
Your lover has just died. Your lover, in your mind, was “The One”. Maybe you’d already lived a life together; maybe your lover died an untimely death, so you’re left with picking up the pieces, wondering how you start over.
And then your best friend comes up to you, during the funeral, and says, ‘It’s okay. You’ll be fine. Just think positive and time will heal everything. One day you’ll find someone else.’
On a scale of 1 to 10, how fucking pissed are you going to be?
I’m going to take a wild guess and say a solid 10, unless the reason for your lover’s untimely death was because you murdered them.
Don’t think about whether you or anyone else would likely say that at someone’s funeral, just keep that with you.
Now apply it to every single situation that requires empathy.
Your best friend is in a car accident. They broke both their arms and both their legs. They’re going to need assistance for at least six months just to wipe their ass.
Do you tell them to look on the bright side of life?
Would you sit there and say, ‘Just think happy thoughts!’ or would you acknowledge that your friend is currently in a shit situation? That their life is literally on hold in many respects during their recovery period?
Because you can talk about rehab and thinking positive all you want, but you know what your friend loses?
Time that can’t be replaced.
If your friend is studying, your friend might have to defer.
Your friend could end up with chronic pain later in life, especially with four breaks.
Sure, if you live in Australia, that hospital visit was probably free, and if you’re a resident of QLD, so was your ambulance ride.
But what about the doctor visits that are yet to come?
Sure, you get a rebate, but it starts adding up quickly.
What about pain medication? What about any other medication that might be needed?
I needed to buy a preventive inhaler the other day. It cost me $58.
$58 so I can breathe.
What about specialists? Specialists aren’t fucking cheap, even if you can get a rebate, and with some specialists and certain medical areas, you can’t get a rebate unless you have Private Insurance … which you obviously have to pay for.
What if you need surgery for those breaks? Unless you’re waiting in the public system or it was emergent, chances are, some of that’s going to come out of your pocket.
What about the special things you’ll need around the house?
You obviously can’t walk. You can’t move your arms or your legs.
Does staying at home sound so much fun now?
Or does it start sounding far more complicated?
Does saying “Just thinking positive!” change your friend’s predicament?
Does it help them heal faster?
Or does it just make you feel better?
Could you wake up, every single day, feeling like you’d run a marathon the day before, went out partying so you’re extremely dehydrated the next day, your muscles cramped, tight, sore, swollen, but you also have the flu.
Imagine waking up every fucking day like that.
Imagine knowing that’s how you’re going to wake up for the rest of your fucking life.
Now try and tell me that chronically ill people aren’t the most fucking positive people you’ve ever fucking met, because that is positivity, bravery, courage.
The constant desire to get up no matter what makes us positive.
You saying “Just be positive!” doesn’t do fucking shit, and it doesn’t make you a positive person. It gives you the illusion of being constantly positive, but there’s a difference.
Every morning I wake up, I have to work out what my body can handle.
And I still do that with hope that today will be a better day than yesterday.
And unless you’re chronically ill, you have no fucking idea how much positivity that fucking takes.
You have no idea the strength that takes.
Every day, I have to decide what medical information to give people.
Every day, I wonder if more friends will do to me what my Bridesmaid and others did: Abandon me, lie to me, and lie to everyone around me.
And every day, despite all of this, I continue on, positive of making the best in a bad situation.
I’m not trying to gatekeep being chronically ill.
I’m just asking you to imagine the sickest you’ve ever been, and then to imagine that every single day with absolute knowledge that this is your new normal and that you won’t ever truly get better, no matter what you eat, or how much you exercise, and then tell me that wouldn’t take all the fucking positivity and strength in the world.
Today, I want you to think of a situation where you used toxic positivity on someone, or dismissed their problems for whatever reason.
It can be past or present.
Just think about the other person’s problem and your response to it. Don’t dwell on it – just remember the questions and think:
Are you really someone a loved one can turn to them in a time of need?
Or are you secretly hoping that every time you ask, “How are you?” the other person lies to you and says, “Fine”, and later, if anyone asks, you can say, “I didn’t know“?