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When Thinking Positive Thoughts Isn't Enough

I am exhausted.  I am angry.  I am discouraged.

My grief is overflowing.  My heart can't take much more.

The fear and helplessness are unreal.

And yet it keeps coming.  There is no end to this.

Some people say it will turn out all right in the end.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Think positive.  Work hard.  Don't give up.  It will get better.

I've tried all that.  There are some times in life when thinking positive thoughts isn't enough.  No matter how hard you work and how long you hold on, things don't get better.  You just learn to survive.

When thinking positive thoughts isn't enough
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This isn't my first rodeo.  I've felt this way before.  Knowing I've been here and survived is the only thing that gives me hope.

Mind you it doesn't change the result.  There's nothing I can do that will change how things are.  This is one of those scenarios that just is.  I am here to accept it and live through it.  And yes I'm fairly certain I will live through it, but I can't help but wonder at what cost.

The first time I experienced this feeling was when my son Bulldozer was physically ill.  He couldn't eat.  No one slept.  We went 18 months with no definite answers.  There were so many doctors, specialists, therapists and tests.

In the end no one could fix what was.  No wishful thinking would change what the doctors discovered  And so we learned to survive with it all.  Day in and day out we lived an still do.

Our son is alive and well and we are thankful for that.  His challenges have become normal to us as we've done what we need to do to accommodate them.  But they're still there.  The heavy burden is real.


I was asked today what we've been up to lately.  As I pondered what to say, I realized we've been doing one thing and one thing only, enduring something that can only be described as hell.

What other word can one use to describe being the parent of an innocent child who is absolutely helpless in the battle against mental illness?

Mental illness is the devil.  Not literally, but it certainly feels that way.  It's dark thick spirit creeps into the healthy brain and takes it for ransom.  There is no freedom to be had.

No medication out there is strong enough to truly cast it out for good.  It always comes back to torture the brain again and again.

I can think of no one on this planet who deserves this type of anguish.  There is no innocent child or experienced adult who warrants this type of abuse.  Yet it comes and ruins so many lives.  The torture is real.

Thinking positive won't do a darn thing.

And so I sit here with tear stained cheeks grieving what was, what is, and what will be.  There are not enough positive thoughts on the planet to take away the sorrow I feel for my daughter and the heavy burdens she carries.

There isn't enough love in the universe to heal our hearts.  Her's and mine.  There are only holes that can be patched up again and again, just to burst open bigger and wider once more.

How to Survive

So what do you do?  How do you keep living?  What is the secret to survival in circumstances such as these, when you feel robbed of everything good?  Here's what's worked for me.

1. Celebrate Everything

I remember a plaque that hung in our living room for years.  My husband gave it to me for Christmas when Bulldozer was still an infant.  It said,

"Until further notice, celebrate everything."

Until further notice, celebrate everything

And that's what we did.  We celebrated every holiday and occasion known to man.  If we didn't have an official reason to celebrate we'd make one up.  Why?  We needed a reason to wake up everything morning.  My husband and I couldn't handle living the same miserable life day in and day out.  There was no happiness there and so we created our own.

Lately, I've found myself needing to do this again.  It's the reason I go to bed at night and wake up in the morning.  I need to celebrate something.

2. Selfishness

So many people preach about self-care and taking time for yourself.  But there are times when you can't because there is no one else that can do what you're doing.  There is no one else able or willing to fight the devil himself when he rears his ugly head taking possession of that innocent little body.  There is no one who can comfort the sick child who's only wish is to feel relief.  That is, except you.



They're not an option.

But selfishness is.

Selfishness will always be there.  It's one of those things that shies away when so many other feelings are present.  But in those moments when you can't take care of yourself and are in the depths of despair, not able to think of a single positive thought, selfishness will come to the rescue, and it will safe you from losing yourself.

Don't be afraid to be selfish in the darkest of moments when in circumstances you can't change or control.  You are worth it.  If the person you were caring for could function and have a say, she'd tell you the same thing.

Years ago, I decided I wasn't going to do dishes anymore.  The chore is my least favorite.  So, I chose to stop.  My husband does them now.  There are days when they're not done.  Sometimes we use paper plates.  But I don't do the dishes.  I refuse all because I'm being selfish. And that's perfectly fine.

Note:  On rare occasions I do wash dishes as an act of kindness towards my husband or to help with the holiday clean up process.

3. Laugh

When thinking positive isn't enough to take the anger away or bring a smile to your face, choose to laugh instead.  Whether it be that you laugh over the sick joke that you call life right now, or you laugh so you won't cry anymore, it will help.  I promise, because I have done both.

Search for reasons to laugh.  Watch YouTube clips.  Find a comedy show on TV.  Scroll through your facebook feed.  Anything will do, as long as you laugh.

Laughter won't take the pain away. It won't rid you of the negative emotions, but it will remind you that you're human.  You can still feel the bad and the good.  And you just never know, you may cry happy tears for once.

Each day I take time to scroll through my facebook feed looking for funny video clips.  I watch them. I laugh.  I share them and then I make my husband watch every single one.  Lol.  When I can't find something funny, my husband and I watch a comedy on TV.

4.  Find Something Positive to Control

When all is lost and there's no controlling the outcome of life's circumstances, it's so important to find something positive to control.  There is so much negative energy inside you.  If you can just spin it into something positive you can endure through hell and ultimately survive it.

I write when I'm at my worst.  In the past year alone I have published two books.  Both were a result of negative energy inside of me.  I could control the writing process.  Each chapter was created by me.  Writing was something no one could take away from me.


All of us will have times in life when thinking positive isn't enough.  We can choose to let these times defeat us, or we can fight back with all of the exhaustion, anger, and discouragement we feel.  Though the emotions are negative, they are strong and can win.

In our family these times result from physical and mental illness in our children.  Others may experience the loss of a loved one or something completely different.

During these times you don't need to be a hero.  You don't need to save the day.  All you must do is survive.  Create a reason to celebrate.  Be selfish.  Laugh.  Find something positive to control.

Just keep living.  Things may not be okay.  Life may be miserable.  You may feel pain and inconsolable heart ache.  But if you survive it, well then you've found a reason to celebrate when others can't.  That means something.

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  1. In my experience with two of my darkest periods, the saying, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger certainly holds true. I love your honesty, I love your love for your family. I don't know you but I believe in you both and that you are the best parents your Children could ever have. Their lives are already so much better for having you both as their parents, advocates, teachers.

  2. It is so heartbreaking. Every word of yours make sense and true. If someone ask me one inspiring are truly one for me. Your kids are very blessed to have you and your husband. kudos my friend