This is the third in a 4-part series about my experience in living a full life with PPS.
Over the years I've had a lot of negative thoughts about having had polio. "Why me? Poor me! I hate having to struggle so hard to breathe all of the time! I feel ugly and unworthy!" I would allow these negative thoughts to take over my mind, affect my behavior, jeopardize relationships, and hold me hostage.
Eventually many of these thoughts became like programmed tapes in my head; they became the lenses through which I looked at the world. As I got older, I became limited and stuck because of my negative thinking patterns. I became afraid to try new things. I worried about what people would think when they saw how twisted my body was. I became withdrawn. I've heard it said that a person's thoughts become her/his reality. This was definitely the place in which I found myself. My life had become as miserable as my thoughts!
As my life with PPS was at its all-time low, a friend recommended that I read a book whose author suggested keeping a gratitude journal. I decided to try it ... I didn't have anything to lose. Every day for a year I wrote down at least 5 things for which I was grateful. It was difficult at first because my negativity was so strong. Some days I could only think of items like "I'm grateful that I have a bed to sleep in" or " I'm grateful that I woke up this morning."
However, as the weeks and months progressed, I started to notice a difference in my thoughts and in my attitude. I was starting to accept my PPS. I felt lighter and happier. I was moving beyond my fatigue so that I could focus on other things in life ... like how delightful the sunbeams are when they fall upon the beads of dew on the grass, making them sparkle like diamonds. Today instead of worrying so much about what people are going to think of my twisted body, I marvel about how wondrous my body is to function so beautifully in spite of its limitations. I laugh more today and I enjoy trying something new. Positive thoughts are now bringing me positive experiences.
There are still moments when my life gets bogged down with a case of self-pity or negativity. Today though the minute I start to count my blessings, all of that melts away and I realize the joy of being alive. I've discovered that I can live with PPS and still have a wonderful life if I keep my thoughts positive. Years ago I used to lament the fact that my body isn't perfect. Today I am grateful for the body that I do have.
Next: Reaching Out to Others