Hospital life – Staying strong and positive

How do you stay strong and positive when there is really nothing to be happy about?

This is one of the main questions parents contemplate every day when dealing with illness of their children. Thousands of children in this country are chronically ill. Some need tonnes of hospital care in addition to needing around-the-clock care when they are at home. Their healths are not only as fragile but also unstable. Their parents and carers are the rock solid people that cope with these emotional troughs and peaks around the clock.

But are those calm and calculated exteriors really for real? Could there be butter jelly real-life people standing behind those calm and strong exteriors that many parent carers appear to possess? The answer is an emphatic yes! When the whistle of life blew everybody planned to grow up, get an education or learn a skill, become successful, get married or into a relationship and have kids…. healthy kids. I will be very worried about anyone who before encountering their child’s illness meticulously spent time planning and expecting it.

It is no wonder then, that many people who find themselves in this situation are not only clueless and confused about what to do but are also overwhelmed by it. One of the safest mindsets that many of the parents I have come across have is pessimism. Pessimism and not been positive is like a safety net for their emotions. In fact until very recently I shared the same opinion. Think about it this way – if you are not expecting anything good, or not expecting good news about an issue how can you be disappointed? Disappointment is a feeling I think one experiences when people or situations fall below our expectation. If there is no expectation, then there is no disappointment right? Well, that’s how pessimists and “not positive” people think. You will notice that I do not call them “negative people” because my interactions have shown that there is a big aversion for the “negative tag”. It’s like an extreme description that is perceived as a defeatist description of how the mindset that these “not positive” people have.

See, whatever we call it, firstly, I will like to bring up the ideology of the “glass”. I am sure you are all familiar with this analogy. Imagine a glass on a table, its capacity was say 100mls but 50mls of water was put inside. This means the glass held half its content capacity. When we all view this glass, we can choose to see it either as half full or as half empty. But I want to ask you one question, does this change the volume of water in the glass? – No.

So my point is that, like we all know, the glass is either half full or half empty but one way of viewing this glass can give hope, peace, calmness to the viewer. Remember the contents remain the same. So sincerely it is true that not expecting anything means you do not get disappointed. But the risk in that is that “not ever expecting” or “not being positive” can leave you feeling as low as your expectation. That lowness can leave you sad and constantly existing in a state of sadness can have health implications for you. In the end, the problem may or may not go away but what we lose is “you”. We lose your true self, your true happiness, your true zest for life, you become hurdled into an emotional corner trying to save your heart from heartbreak that may occur as a result of your child’s failing health.

Mind you, children feed off the energy we exude. No matter how we put on a front, our true feelings are hard to mask from people we spend hours with. Our frustrations, irritations and sadness filter through our remarks, comments, temperaments, and mood swings. We do ourselves an injustice because we also unknowingly lose out on quality, valuable and irreplaceable time that we can share with our children – Sick and healthy. It is true that by being “not positive” we can shield ourselves from disappointment (remember the no expectation no disappointment argument). What we also may end up doing unknowingly is erecting a wall around ourselves. Only a few people can handle being “not positive” and staying in control of their emotions especially in other aspects their lives.  What really tends to happen when we are “not positive” is that we start to slip away and stop living because we tend to mainly experience worry (even though you don’t realise it).

I remember as a child we got told this story- full credit to the unknown author:

A man was sent to a village from a shoe factory to see if there was possibility of expansion for the business. He got there and it was a very backward village with people wearing leaves, on barefoot. In fact it looked like Stone Age. He walked all around and the story was the same so he went back reporting that it was a total waste of money going there stating that the people had never even heard of shoes.

After a while, the company sent another man to see if any development had come to the village. He did but the story was still the same. So he went back and told the company that there was a massive opportunity there. They asked him if the people had become civilised now, he replied to the contrary. They wanted to know why he had such an idea. He told them that their lack of civilisation was his opportunity. The people had never heard of shoes and it was his opportunity to market it to them. In the end he made massive profits selling more than anyone in the firm.

So, why this story? You see the two people like in our glass analogy, saw the view of the same situation differently. It did not change the fact that the village was still in Stone Age. The only change in the status quo came because one person chose to view the lack of civilisation as an opportunity – something positive.

This is what parents and carers need to start doing. We need to start seeing the opportunities that present themselves to us as a result of our circumstances. It is true that our children are unwell, chronically sick, getting even more horrible prognosis by the day. But what is also true is that we are now spending more time with our children. We can make these times memorable, forge happy memories for our children and ourselves. We may not have the best lives but we can make the best out of the lives we have.

We come across many other parents with amazing stories. Parents who overcome incredible hurdles with their children to inspire us. That in itself is a blessing, it would not happen if our circumstances were different.

It is true that if all these “uglies” where not happening our lives will be different. But different does not always mean good. It does not guarantee happiness. What is presently correct is also that we have not explored is the depth of this particular “different”  life we are living. It may be so difficult but maybe only as difficult as we make it to be by not paying attention and exploring the possibilities that life throws at us as a result of our current circumstances.

So, don’t be too hard on yourself, your child, your life or your circumstance. Trust me… We have all been there. That is what makes us human. You need to be in touch with the super humanity that lies within you. Do you know how to do so? By rising above your circumstance. By refusing to let it dictate your happiness. Remember that when you hit rock bottom, there is no way out but up! So trust yourself, one little step at a time. It is hard but it is not impossible to be the best parent you can be to your child – even as a carer.

Thanks for reading.

If you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy some other topics we have discussed in this series.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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