As I start this blog I am constantly having to remind myself to stay positive, be confident, and be proud of who I am-and how far I’ve come! This is all new to me, so I am obviously still learning as I go and will probably make a lot of mistakes! But I appreciate those so much who have helped and hope that I will be able to help others too, even if it’s in a small way.
I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety my senior year of college, although I probably had undiagnosed anxiety mostly my whole life. I’ve been to all different counselors and psychiatrists. Tried what felt like a million different medications, therapies, and treatments. It definitely was not, and is not, easy at times! I’ve done things I’m not proud of and made a lot of mistakes. But I am stronger because of it. I am happy that I was able to learn and grow in a way not everyone gets the chance to in their lifetime. I am happy that I can have more empathy for those who are also struggling mentally.
So…let’s not forget that everyone’s journey with their mental health is different, unique, and valuable in their own way. One thing that held me back from getting help in the first place was my fear. Fear of not being accepted or people responding negatively towards me. Fear of disappointing others and not living up to what was expected. It is still a constant struggle today for many people with mental health diagnoses. The public stigma, and self stigma, is so real! Becoming a nurse helped me a lot. I broke out of my shell and learned so much. And I am so grateful for those who have been there for me along the way and those who will.
Like I said, the path we take through life is different for everyone, whether it relates to mental health or not. Remember that you are worth it, your feelings are valid and important no matter how you express them! Fear should not hold you back, and negativity should definitely not stop you. How you act (and react) towards others throughout your journey is your decision.
Negative people are all around you no matter what…it helps to take a step back and put yourself in that person’s shoes. Perhaps they are being negative because they too are going through something and are just handling it differently. Or maybe not. You don’t really know and shouldn’t assume either! Their journey, or current situation, is different than yours. It may not be so easy and how they choose to handle it is their decision. How you react back and what you think or do next is yours. The best thing you can do is show people a different, positive, perspective on things.
I am a nurse, so for me I encounter many different people from all different backgrounds. Which I truly love! I’ve had many people treat me harshly when all I’ve tried to do is help them and be kind. But part of being a nurse is being there for others not only physically, but emotionally too. We tend to forget to do this as humans. Many times those unkind people are struggling with something deeper in that moment. It may even be something completely unrelated! Try to NOT match their energy. Flip it into something positive. Be patient, calm, and kind back. A simple smile, small act of kindness, asking them how their day is, or asking them something about themselves goes really far.
For example, I once had a patient who was just in a really down mood all day and taking it out on me. Instead of reacting with negativity back towards them, I tried to help them in a different way. I reminded myself, we all get in bad moods and I’ve taken things out on others in the wrong way before too. This person had every right to feel this way. As a nurse, I couldn’t even imagine being on the other side of things. I thought…“What can I do differently for this person“- not just as a nurse, but also as a human.
I knew this patient’s hair has not been brushed, because it was matted in the back (from being in the hospital for so long) and no one could untangle it. She had not had visitors all day. I noticed this and asked her about it. I made sure to set some uninterrupted time aside to sit with her, talk to her, wash her hair and brush through the knots. I then French braided it. After that her mood changed. She was still not feeling fully herself, of course, but was smiling, happier, and appreciative. It had made her day, and mine!
It’s easy to forget that small acts of kindness go a really long way, even though sometimes it may not feel like it does. We have to try and remember that there might be other things going on with a person than what is right in front of us, or what we only want to see. We get so focused on things and forget to see the full picture. Be the bigger person and try turning your negativity into positive thoughts and acts. Try responding to harsh comments in a kinder way. Or simply just recognizing one another for who they really are.
It’s also SO important to remember that negativity towards you does not always reflect who you are as a person. It’s easy to ruminate and beat yourself up about things. And it’s hard to let things go sometimes. Try not to immediately think badly of yourself when surrounded by the negativity. For example, my insecurities and imperfections always held me back- and caused me more anxiety. I’ve come a long way with loving, opening up, and accepting myself. I’ve come so far with not caring what is expected of me or basing my actions on what others will think of me. It’s easy to let one tiny thing put you back to square one. But how you feel about yourself is even more important than what others think of you. Take a step back and really think about the situation, remain calm, and keep moving forward! This may look different for each person, and that’s okay. It’s your journey.
Of course we all make mistakes. We are human. It’s hard to be positive ALL the time. But that’s not you as a person. Learn from these mistakes and grow! Learn from the negativity of others and their perspectives. You are a good person and your experiences make you unique. Still, it’s always good to ask yourself…“Is what was said somewhat true? Do I need to take something positive out of this in a way to better myself? Do I need to change something? Do I need to respond in a way that acknowledges my own faults too?” This is hard to do but worth it to improve yourself, and in turn, set an example for others.
So…try not to dwell on things because no one truly knows what you are going through, how far you’ve come, and how strong you are except you. You should be proud of yourself and be confident! It’s your journey in life and others have their own journeys as well. What pace we go and what path we choose is ours. Sometimes this may change as we learn more about ourselves and others. Work to let go of the negativity that surrounds you. Take a step back, see different perspectives, be kind, and think positively!