To the People Who Tell Me to Be More Positive About My Chronic Illness


I do not expect to find a cure.

But I hope to.

I do not expect to get better.

But I hope to.

I do not expect you to understand.

But I hope you do.

It does not make me feel better to hear, “You really just need to be positive” because positivity will not make me feel better. It will not cure me. So many medications, doctors, treatments and suggestions got my hopes up. I was told just more water, just more salt, physical therapy, steroids. I was under the impression if I just listened and did what the doctors told me, I’d be better, maybe completely “normal” even. So I did what they told me to do. But I never got the results I thought I would. I got my hopes up just for them to be dropped right on top of me, crushing me. I’ve cried, I’ve gotten angry, then realized that wasn’t going to help me, either.

The moment I learned to accept my chronic illness was the moment I felt I finally found myself. I no longer felt the need to fight against it, to push myself until I passed out, because it’s hard fighting against something that just keeps winning. By “winning” I mean it’s winning the battle, not the war, because no, I will never let it get the best of me. I will never let it get me down for long, but it’d be a complete lie if I didn’t admit it knocked me down sometimes (literally).

girl wearing a pink t-shirt
A selfie of Tiffany

I guess it is reasonable to argue that I’m not optimistic because I don’t continue to remind myself I will get better. I will get back to a life of “normalcy.” But if that’s reasonable to argue, then it’s reasonable for me to argue that I’m not a pessimist. Pessimists have no hope — I hope to get better and I hope to find a cure. I continue to hope, but I’m not going to keep telling myself I will find a cure or I will get better just to get let down if that never happens. I know it’s hard to tell in my case, but pessimistic and realistic are not the same.

Having a realistic outlook on things has helped my quality of life more than any treatment thus far. I’m happier, and who is anyone to try and take someone’s happiness away? I understand how it can seem depressing to some not to expect to ever find a cure, but hope keeps me holding on. I will always hope, and that’s what’s important. There’s no “right” way to cope with chronic illness, but there are wrong ways. If my way is what’s kept me happiest, then who are you (especially without a chronic illness) to tell me it’s the wrong way?

girl standing between two statues
Tiffany in front of two statues

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to anyone you wish had a better understanding of your experience with disability, disease or mental illness. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Other

When My Child’s Doctor Said She Wasn’t ‘Perfect’

Hillary’s daughter Esmé in a park A few weeks ago we had an appointment with one of my daughter Esmé’s doctors. He’s a good doctor. We have had a great working relationship for a number of years. I like that he is a specialist who realizes that while his particular specialty is his priority, it [...]

When a Kid Asked Me About My Tracheotomy Scar

We all know that kids say the darndest things.When I was painting at Ridgefield Art Walk, a young child made a comment about my self-taught art (he said he “could do that”), which inspired not only a whole blog post, but a lightbulb moment for me about what message I want to impart to others [...]

The Get-Well Cards First Graders Made During My Child’s Hospital Stay

The dimly lit room is relatively quiet except for the beeps and alarms going off. I take a seat next to my daughter’s hospital bed and grab the stack of handmade cards delivered earlier that day. I was eager to look at them but waited for this private moment with my husband because I was afraid of the [...]

To My Parent Friends Who Don’t Have Kids With Special Needs

To my parent friends who don’t have kids with special needs: I need to tell you a few things as the parent of my now-adult daughter with significant medical needs. In the beginning of our journey with our daughter’s medical, physical and developmental needs, I felt alone. I didn’t want to hear other mothers talking about their child’s minor illnesses such [...]