2022- The year of positivity

How to be more positive 1

“It’s always important to remember that there is always someone available to talk to, 24/7, whenever you need.”

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February 2022, I met with my surgeon to discuss a parastomal hernia that I’ve had for a few years now. Unfortunately, after having COVID and a chest infection, my coughing caused the hernia to enlarge and was now causing a problem and had to be operated on.

My surgeon and I were chatting away, talking about the surgery and when I’d like to get booked in for, when he said ‘Michelle, you don’t seem like your normal self, is everything ok?’ and I burst into tears. It was unexpected and I wasn’t feeling overly sad, but he was right, I wasn’t my normal self.

Nothing in particular had triggered how I was feeling, so when I got home, I started thinking about why I wasn’t quite feeling myself and I realised I had been feeling a bit down since December.

Unfortunately, I think I may be related to the Grinch in some way as I’m not a fan of Christmas at all, although I still celebrate for my family. I tend to feel the winter blues in December and combined with the expense and stress of Christmas, it tends to put me a bit out of sorts.

January came around and unfortunately, I was still suffering with the winter blues when I caught COVID-19 and both my son Callum and I were quite ill for around two weeks, despite being double vaxxed.

Thankfully, both of us recovered well and we could get out and about.

I’m always aware that I need to take better care of myself during the winter months, so I try to keep busy and ensure I treat myself every now and again. I like to try and book activities that are weather friendly and a little bit different, such as visiting a secret cinema, where you get a text with a location and travel through secret entrances to find yourself suddenly in a cinema watching Elf or home alone.

We’re also lucky that we live right by the sea, so as soon as the sun comes out, we like to grab a hot chocolate and take a walk along the seafront. Callum and I will talk about holidays we’d like to take over the next year and even just the conversation about a trip can give you the feel-good factor.

So, when I ended up crying in my surgeon’s office, I was surprised as I thought I'd been doing all the right things to make sure I was staying positive. Turns out, sometimes you just feel a bit down and that’s okay, it’s just knowing that you should always talk to someone.

As my surgeon and I were talking about what had been going on, he said “Let’s find someone you can talk to, because I can’t operate on you when you feel sad. You can’t start to heal physically if you aren’t healed emotionally”.

What he said made total sense to me. Recovering from surgery can be tough on your mental health, you’re a lot less mobile and it can be isolating, even if you have others around you helping you. If you’re not feeling too positive going into surgery, it might affect your mindset and your physical recovery post-surgery.

My surgeon and I decided to wait 2-3 months before I had surgery, so that I could try and get myself out of this funk, ready for surgery and a speedy recovery.

I’ve started putting mindful practises into place to get ready for surgery:

  • I’ve taken up meditating, learning to visit a safe place in my mind and being able to remain there undistracted.
  • Journaling. Sometimes writing just one line or a few paragraphs to acknowledge how I’m feeling and process why that might be. Negative thoughts aren’t as powerful once they leave your head.
  • Removing myself from situations that I find stressful, or people that may be adding to stress.
  • Limiting social media scrolling time
  • Acknowledging when something is making me unhappy. If it’s making you unhappy, stop.

I’ve also found a lot of support on the internet, with support groups and social media. It’s always important to remember that there is always someone available to talk to, 24/7, whenever you need.

If you’re having a difficult time and would like someone to talk to here are some resources:

https://www.samaritans.org/

Phone: 116 123

https://www.mind.org.uk/

Phone: 0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm Monday to Friday) or text 86463

NHS Phone: 111 or 999

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by Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams

About the author

My name is Michelle; I live in Kent with my husband and son. I have a permanent ileostomy as a result of Ulcerative Colitis. You can follow me on twitter.

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