The Mighty Logo

When You Don’t Feel Like Being Positive About Your Chronic Illness

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

I’m not always OK. This morning I was crying my full-on big ugly cry in my favorite corner of my favorite place in the world — the public library. They know me there, so it was a bit of a scene. Picture your favorite librarians reassuring and hugging you.

I broke down in a very public way again. It happens sometimes, just less often than it used to. I’m not a newbie to any of my chronic conditions anymore. I do the best I can to maximize my better moments. I fill my time working part time and with my hobbies. I put on my best possible face for the world.

It’s my well-honed way of coping, but it also doesn’t do me any favors because most people will assume I am always whatever face I put out to the world.

I believe in the power of positive thinking, but I also believe that wanting a person to always stay positive creates shallowness of emotions and a stuffing down of feelings like anger and sadness that isn’t healthy. I feel it is necessary that I acknowledge these feelings as well as the more uplifting ones, so they can move through me and out of me.

I don’t do this with the most appropriate timing. I wait too long, bottle things up and end up bawling my eyes out in the public library.

It’s frustrating. So, here are three suggestions for how to recognize and feel your emotions, to be OK for real.

1. Tune in to your body and acknowledge your feelings as quickly as possible. What do these emotions feel like inside? Is anxiety causing you to hold your breath? Is your chest tight with anger?

2. Truly feel the emotions. Settle into the discomfort of these emotions without any self-medication or distraction techniques. Sometimes we need a distraction, but not at the expense of our emotional health. Once the book has been read or the TV show watched, the emotions will still be there, most likely amped up.

3. Figure out a coping method. Talk to someone, a loved one or a therapist. Or just break down somewhere. Find out what works for you. Do it, release it and move forward without the build up of unexpressed emotions.

It’s OK to not be OK all the time. I’m not always OK and you don’t have to be, either.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s the hardest thing you deal with as someone with a chronic illness, and how do you face this? What advice and words of support would you offer someone facing the same thing? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to 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.

*Sign up for our Chronic Illness Newsletter*

Originally published: April 5, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home