Post written by ChronicBabe Amy Graves

 

In the Beginning…

I’ve dealt with different types of chronic pain for as long as I can remember. I was diagnosed with migraines and seizures at the age of three; this meant that at an early age I had to learn how to manage pain. I trained myself to go to bed as soon as I felt a migraine coming. I learned what my triggers were for seizures and attempted to avoid them.

I was lucky in that I still had a mostly normal childhood. Then, in 2004, I injured my left arm. As a result of that injury I was diagnosed in 2007 with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Through three years and 13 doctors, I kept telling myself someone will figure this out. The pain will be cured and I will go back to normal. But the diagnosis brought with it the realization I would have to live in pain every day for the rest of my life.

 

The Realization that Sparked a Change

My diagnosis left me depressed. How could I live with constant burning pain? My pain levels started increasing and the feeling of hopelessness was completely consuming. Then one day I was on the phone with my mom. I realized I had become a negative person – like her. I looked at her life, and I didn’t want to go down the same path. So I made a deliberate decision to reform my attitude. I altered my focus so finding the positive became a daily practice.

This change in thought was not easy. It took at least a year before I was able to see the positive without having to stop and ask myself what is the silver lining? This does not mean I was – or am – happy all the time. When I lost the ability to work 20 hours a week I had to focus on the positive outcomes. I trained myself to look at the positives rather than focusing on the negatives, like losing money.

 

My Secret

The key to me maintaining my happy is allowing myself to have bad days. I have days where I cry or get mad at the world. At the end of the day, I know it won’t solve my problems, but I feel better.

You will exhaust yourself trying to be positive all the time. No one else can expect you to be happy all the time, either. When I have to deal with a problem, I let myself feel the necessary emotions, whether it be anger, sadness, or even fear. Once I am done, I sit back and analyze the situation. I focus on what I can do to make it better.

The ability to maintain your happy is not only about finding the silver lining. It is also about finding ways to handle the day-to-day stressors of life.

 

You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile

Today, almost 10 years after beginning this journey, finding the silver lining has become natural. My friends call me “Giggles.” This nickname is two-fold. Besides having a distinctive laugh, I have shown my friends I will always find the positive in any situation.

I was told recently “you could out-Pollyanna Pollyanna.” Which of course made me laugh because Pollyanna is one of my favorite movies. If you haven’t seen it you should – it’s a classic.

People who meet me today are amazed at how positive I am despite how much life has thrown at me. I deal with multiple chronic, rare, and orphan diseases. I have multiple food sensitivities which have left me eating only about eight safe foods. A year and a half ago, I started using forearm crutches for mobility. Each time I found the positive and kept moving forward. Here’s the thing: I am not happy all the time. I do, however, keep giggling and smiling my way through every obstacle that comes my way.

 

 

**This is the first of many in a guest contributor series. If you would like to be considered as a guest writer for ChronicBabe, visit this link.**