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Finding and Keeping a Positive Attitude - Coping with MCS

By HHI Staff

When you feel lousy, have felt lousy for a long time, have a limited number of things to eat, have a limited number of activities left that you can participate in, and have a condition that your near and dear or even doctor doesn't believe is real - finding and keeping a positive attitude may seem no more attainable than Don Quixote's quest. However, having and maintaining a good outlook for yourself and your life may be absolutely essential in reaching mental and, hopefully, physical health.


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Probably all individuals who have had prolonged, severe debilitating symptoms feel like giving up. "What's the point?" you may have sincerely asked yourself. It must be acknowledged from the outset that periods of depression are part of Environmental Illness (E.I.). Food allergies, and chemical intolerances will often trigger symptoms such as depression. Therefore, what we can do is to not get depressed about being depressed. That would just make getting out of it a harder and longer process.


Recent books on the subject of death and dying often mention the stages that a dying person goes through. The first phase is usually denial, followed by anger and depression. Eventually a stage of acceptance is reached by many and it is at that point that they no longer fight within themselves. This does not mean that the terminally ill no longer fight their cancer, for instance, but rather that they quit punishing themselves mentally for having tumors.


People who experience life altering events or conditions also may go through these same stages. Although they are not actually dying, a part of their life may, in a sense, have died. Their home may have been flattened by a tornado, a friend may have died in an automobile accident, or they may find themselves with diabetes. In all of these cases, a part of the comfortable past has been radically changed forever. The process of mourning then usually begins to take over. It is a universal mechanism that we use to cope with loss.


Having E.I. is one such life altering condition that can change your life drastically and maybe permanently. Don't be upset if you too experience mourning. You have lost a great deal. Your goal, if you choose, is to reach the last stage of self acceptance. Remember, this does not mean giving up your allergy medicine, shots, testing or any other therapy that you or your doctor feel are beneficial. It means accepting yourself as you are and feeling that no matter what, you remain a good and worthwhile human being. Your value does not diminish because you may now be sick in bed or you can no longer have friends over for dinner. Have the same compassion for yourself that you would have for a hurting child to whom you would naturally feel caring towards. Are you really less worthy of love than, say, a handicapped six year old who is an unemployed dependent? (Like you may be now.)


In reality, loving and acceptance are pretty much the same thing. When you grow in love with your fiance or mate, for example, you grow to be more accepting of him or her. You also begin to feel that you can be free to just be yourself. You both no longer have to impress each other. In other words, the relationship increases in love the more accepting and honest it is. Those of us who are very ill must seek to love and be honest, and therefore more accepting of who we are, in order to maximize our relationship with ourselves.


A positive mental outlook can actually promote your body's healing. During the last few years doctors and researchers have explored the interconnectedness of a person's immune system and mental state. As "non-orthodox" healers have known for thousands of years, the mind can really help to heal the body. It could be called psychosomatic healing. Dr. Bernie Siegel, in his books (e.g., Love, Medicine, and Miracles) and therapy clinics has documented such "unscientific" events as malignant tumors shrinking after patients had practiced positive thinking and self-love techniques over a period of time. Your E.I. symptoms may not shrink away dramatically if you find and keep a positive attitude but the odds are that it will certainly be better for your physical health than if you had a negative attitude.


"Why me?" often pops into the heads of people with E.I. With the glut of synthetic foods and materials and the promotion of more toxic life-styles, the more reasonable question may be "Why didn't it happen sooner?" Pain is a natural part of living. It has been said that pain is the means by which we learn what hurts us so that we can avoid it. Pain and suffering should be thought of as teachers. The unnatural foods and life-styles that hurt us are teaching us: "No, stay away! That's dangerous!" Other people may seem unaffected but they may, as Stephen Levine, PhD said, succumb later to arthritis, cancer, or other degenerative symptoms. We may be the first with E.I. but we are definitely not the last.


You might view having a condition like E.I. before it is widely accepted as a special responsibility given to us so we will personally spread the word. Remember, people used to laugh at the Wright brothers. Today we have the space shuttle. Consider doubt, ridicule, scorn, or just being ignored as the typical reactions that a society has toward unanticipated change or discovery. This is just the way it is, so be careful not to take the rejection that you receive personally. Sooner or later, E.I. will be unquestioned and even taken for granted. Your positive attitude and sense of purpose can help future E.I. patients have an easier time of it.


When you begin to accept who you are then you might try viewing E.I. as a challenge. What can you do to contribute to others by using the experiences you have gone through? You might begin to write. Write possibly to your family doctor who told you in so many words that you were crazy. Explain E.I. to him briefly and list a couple of books he might read. Write to or for a newsletter or magazine. Write to companies that make unsafe products. Write to companies that make safe products and congratulate them. Telephone another E.I. person who is sicker than you are and let them know that you care. So, expect depression, but don't actively contribute to it.


See yourself as the worthy creation that you are. Seek to use your life experiences to make things better. Above all, know that finding and keeping a positive attitude will hasten the physical health that you seek. But even if your health fails to improve, your better attitude will not allow you to miss all of the other aspects of life that are still available to you. Your illness may actually give you the opportunity to appreciate the caring of a friend or spouse, or give you the time to contemplate the wonder of the stars. If you look, there is always a lot more than you realized to be thankful for.


(Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of The Healthy House Institute, LLC.)


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Finding and Keeping a Positive Attitude - Coping with MCS:  Created on April 13th, 2007.  Last Modified on February 27th, 2011


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