Concepts, popular culture

On Positivity

GREY’S ANATOMY “Six Days” Season 3 Episode 11-12 JANUARY 11 & 18 2007 JUDITH HOAG, MAE WHITMAN, CHANDRA WILSON
Source: Entertainment Weekly

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve dealt with my disability “with a great amount of positivity.” I began to wonder if there was a reason why. Could it be because of how I was raised? I’m not exactly sure, but I think it would be way too easy to live with a disability and harbor a negative attitude. I mean, there are many things I could choose to be negative about, yet I prefer not to be. At least, most of the time. There’s nothing I can do about my circumstances, so why should I feel badly about it? Like I said before, I might as well make the best of it. I think a lot of being positive has to do with one’s mindset. Perhaps that’s an obvious observation, but it’s probably obvious because it’s so true.

Let’s be honest, though: being positive is hard sometimes. It’s easy–too easy–to fall into the traps in my head, the place where I might feel sorry for myself and lament and grieve my “lack” of ability in some areas, however you want to say it. That place is one I don’t like to frequent. Instead I try to focus on the good things I’ve got in my corner, like my support system–family, friends, mentors. Or the fact that I honestly live a good life, and any remark to the contrary is just the result of a bad day. I try to focus on what I can do, or on what I’ve accomplished so far, rather than the things I may struggle with. This might be a cliche, but life is too short to be miserable.

Honestly, what inspired me to write this post was an old episode of Grey’s Anatomy. A while back I decided to re-watch the show from the beginning, because why not. In one particular episode of season three, some of the doctors team up to help a patient (portrayed by Mae Whitman) with a severe curvature of her spine. The character gives a speech about what life is like for her. I’m sure it’s incredibly tough at times for someone with a similar condition (putting aside the dramatization of television), yet I just kept thinking about the media’s portrayal of a young teenage girl who is disabled as something so incredibly negative. I certainly can’t speak for everyone, but I know that I wasn’t that angry constantly, where I might snap at doctors who were sent to help me. Sure, Whitman’s character is supposed to be young, filled with teenage angst and all that. She’s angry.

I was angry once, too. Perhaps I was just better than this character at filtering it out. …Or maybe I’m not being honest with myself, because I remember being angry as a teenager about many things, my disability included…but the important thing is I now know that all that anger was really just misplaced and wasted energy. There’s no use in being angry about it, because this reality cannot be changed or altered. It won’t do me well to be mad. Anger just causes a great deal of stress on my emotional and mental well-being, which is something I’ve worked incredibly hard to maintain and keep healthy.

So, how do I work to keep up my positive mindset/outlook/attitude? Therapy, for one. I’ve been attending since I was 16 years old after I endured the greatest personal loss of my life to date. Therapy has helped me process my emotions and generally just embrace happiness with open arms.

Let’s not forget writing. I immersed myself in the craft when I was just a child, taking classes and writing in endless journals. Writing became cathartic for me over the years, especially when I began maturing. It has become my truth, and it’s the reason why even this blog exists.

I’ve always said that my disability is something I was born to tackle. All in all, positivity is power and equips me with a healthy attitude. It might not be the case every single day, but it is most of the time, and that’s got to count for something.