Looking at Life’s Challenges Through a Different Lens

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by Jaime Christmas |

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caregiver break | FAP News Today | Main graphic for the column

I often write about the challenges I face as a carer to a spouse afflicted with hereditary ATTR amyloidosis. I highlight the heavy impact this disease has had on me as well as my four children. However, nothing beats the issues my husband faces day in and day out as a sufferer of this genetic disease.

I often use words like “burden,” “toll,” “disappointment,” and “suffering.” I choose words with negative connotations because I want to be as open and honest as I can when I write about our experiences.

This week, I took a closer look at the words I use because it occurred to me that language, either verbal or written, has a strong impact on others. A study published in 2019 in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology found that we are more strongly affected by negative words and utterances than positive ones. On a cognitive level, we pay more attention to negativity because it’s often associated with fear and danger, which has benefited humans throughout evolution, the study’s authors noted. This phenomenon is called negativity bias.

I’m caught between needing to be honest about my life while also making sure I don’t send my readers into a dark tailspin. I hope that those who are walking a similar journey will see how trying certain situations can become, but also realize that there’s hope. The last thing I want is to lead you to fixate on negative outcomes.

Hence, when readers peruse my columns, I hope they can balance my struggles against the positive actions I try to take. Although our minds tend to veer toward the negative, we can apply practical exercises to better ourselves and our circumstances. Negative situations may seem to matter more than positive ones, but in my experience, riding out the bad events while looking forward to a positive outcome prevents me from falling wholly into the grim mire.

Cultivate the ability to stop and hone in on the positives. Consider that our experiences as caregivers for amyloidosis sufferers may seem similar, but only you can give an accurate account of what it’s actually like on your end. Look deep, and identify the positives. Be rational about what you’re experiencing. Don’t overreact and become blinded to the immense good that is happening around you.

The more we can train our brains to overcome bad thoughts, the easier it becomes to focus on good ones. In time, no matter what we go through in life, we will never lose the ability to be happy.

“Let us try to see things from their better side:/ You complain about seeing thorny rose bushes;/ Me, I rejoice and give thanks to the gods/ That thorns have roses.” – Alphonse Karr


Note: FAP News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of FAP News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to familial amyloid polyneuropathy.


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