Affirmations and the Power of Positivity: Coming Out of the Hole
I am going to start this by being brutally honest. I have struggled over the last year and a half with depression, low mood, and anxiety. I felt like I kind of "lost my way" and "sense of purpose" in the world.
Pandemic and the effect on my mental health
Being confined to the house for over a year due to the pandemic, as I was deemed clinically vulnerable and therefore had to shield. I feel has most definitely been a contributing factor to my poor state of mental health.
I was feeling constantly lethargic, fatigued, anxious, I could not sleep properly, sleeping during the day, but up all night. Poor diet, poor personal hygiene, loss of concentration, no exercise and so it goes on.
Getting out of the hole
I call it a "hole" as I felt that's where I was.
It was a dark and lonely place, a place with no hope, with no future of any quality insight. Some might say that I was losing the will to live. In fact, at one point I did even discuss with my husband that maybe it would have been better if the cancer had "taken me." Life just felt futile.
I had lost two very close friends to bladder cancer, both of whom when I looked back, never gave up. It was from thinking about these individuals and the impact that they had, on my life, that I started to realize I had a real problem and I needed some help - counseling I believe they call it.
Admitting I needed help with my mental health
Now, this is something that certainly did not come easy to me. I am always the brave one, the stoic one. The one that stands firm when everyone else is falling apart.
Now I was falling apart, and I knew it. But who to turn to? First thought was my GP [general practitioner], but I couldn't get an appointment for nearly 3 weeks and it would be a telephone consultation with a doctor that I had never spoken with before.
I did not feel comfortable with this and so declined the appointment.
It was then that I decided to look online for help.
As with everything else on the internet you need to check out the sites and persons' credibility in this subject before engaging. This I did, and indeed I visited many different sites, some offering lotions, and potions, whilst others offered miracle pills at exorbitant prices. I knew that these were all scams.
It was then that I remembered an article that I had read many years ago from a lady who had 2 stomas, and how she dealt with her own depression and body image issues.
So, what is an affirmation? The definition of an affirmation is the act of confirming something to be true. An example of an affirmation is, "reminding a child that they are smart."
So how did I use this technique to help me? Well, what I did was get a journal, then each day when I got up I would write just one thing that I was thankful for. I did this for a couple of weeks and then looked back at what I had written. It was probably the usual things that most of us are grateful for, such as family, shelter, food, friends, and so on.
The power of positivity in changing our perceptions
Then after two weeks, I moved on to looking at my body. I then had to write in the same journal each day something about me that I was grateful for or felt positive about.
This was going to be hard as I pretty much hated every bit of me at this point. But I reluctantly continued. At first, it was hard - very hard to think of one positive thing. I told my friend and she said to me, "But your skin is beautiful and soft and few wrinkles."
All I could see was the skin cancer on the end of my nose like a shining beacon. She made me look past this and eventually I began to see what she saw. So I wrote it in my journal.
Cancer and the power of my positivity
The following day I looked at myself and decided I was grateful for my hearing, it may not be great I have to wear hearing aids due to side effects of chemotherapy drugs used during my bladder cancer treatment, but I can hear. And so it went on.
Then I decided to purchase some affirmation cards; little positive quotes and sayings that help us to think more positively, not just about ourselves but about life in general.
Steady does it
I have to say that after about 6 weeks and reading back what I had written each day really did help me to climb out of that great big hole that I had felt that I was in.
I still continue to do this to this day, as when I am feeling particularly low I can read back and digest just what I have to be grateful for, and then things do not seem quite so bad.