Has positivity in chronic illness gone into overdrive?

This article in the Globe and Mail talks about how often people with a chronic illness are expected to put on a happy face while being mindful and positive about their illnesses even on their worst days.

Just reading that makes me tired already.

A person with a chronic illness or serious disease on their plates has better things to do than be inspiring and constantly cheerful for other people. It sucks sometimes, being sick, on all kinds of medications that have debilitating side effects, and to put the onus on the patient to keep up happy appearances in spite of what they’re going through is not fair to them.

Your feelings are valid.

You are allowed to complain.

In fact, a patient who does not complain can actually make diagnosis and treatment more difficult for their doctors. If you don’t like to say how bad you are feeling, they may never know if a particular treatment is having any effect at all. If you’re super-creepy-happy all the time, there’s no way to tell when you’re having a day/week when the medication may not be helping you. 

You are allowed to cry.

You are allowed to feel hopeless.

You don’t have to be grateful, mindful, etc, unless you want to.

You do not have to lie to yourself OR others about how you feel.

“In Russia, negative emotions are to be expected, Ryder says. There, having a full range of emotions is considered authentic or realistic, he says, noting that it can sometimes be difficult to detect depression in Russians because it’s accepted as part of life that people experience tough times.
When faced with adversity, “I think they even say, sometimes explicitly, ‘We don’t have to be [like] Americans and smile about it,’ ” he says. “So if you have a death sentence or you’re now going to have to live with a permanent disability, then you would be sort of failing to be in touch with the truth of the situation unless you felt really bad about it.”
…To coax patients to look on the bright side can be extremely unempathetic and can result in a kind of victim blaming, in which a relapse of illness or inability to recover may be seen as a consequence of not trying hard enough to overcome it, says Zaretsky, the psychiatrist at Sunnybrook.”
 
What optimism and psychological therapies can do is improve the quality of one’s life – at least for some people, she says – but there’s no evidence that it prolongs it. [emphasis mine]
 
And even if there were evidence to support the idea that people could fight disease by boosting their immune system through reducing stress, trying to be positive, for some, may itself be stressful, Li says.
 
“If the mechanism is that stress reduction works through your immune system to help you, it’s not going to work if you have to work that hard at being positive,” she says.
So much in this article is right on the nose.