Mental health

Ugly Truth 004: Positivity Only Goes So Far

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.”

– Glenn Close Greetings Readers, Welcome back to the Ugly Truth Series brought to you by Deskraven. Let us use this space to explore the ugly truths of mental illness in order to spark conversation, embolden our language, and demystify stigma. Today we’re talking about the ever preached power of positivity – and where it stops short. I know two things about genuine happiness. One, positivity takes practice and two, happiness is only real when shared. Likewise, like most things this translates differently if you’re someone who suffers from mental illness. Try as you might, you may find there is a cap on your positivity practice, especially if you have a mood disorder. In my experience I have found that I can successfully practice positivity and apply it to my life right up until my chronic pain flares past my ability to see a silver lining. This isn’t necessarily because pain causes anguish, although it undoubtedly does, but because it can pose as a significant distraction to most everything else. This makes my ability to practice positivity secondary, and my outlook will often suffer as a result. Positivity is not walking around with a delusional sense of glee, but instead choosing gratitude and joy even when your circumstances suggest otherwise. It is maintaining some sliver of hope in the face of adversity. And when hope can not be maintained, radical acceptance must take its place – bringing me to ugly truth #3. Positivity is important, essential even, but when you have a mental health condition the dynamics of joy and choice change considerably. Particularly when the moods you experience are chemical rather than circumstantial. Radical acceptance allows us to accept our state of mind or environmental triggers as truth. This paired with the wisdom that this too shall pass can offer peace of mind, even when positivity struggles to find its way through. We can combat this with mindfulness. So here’s a how-to list with some of my methods to assist you in remaining intentional in your positivity practice. Practice Gratitude Gratitude is achieved when we take the time to be grateful for what we have, rather than focusing on what we’re lacking. This can be done using a thought practice or a journal to list things like family, partners, employers, pets, or achievements. If you’re like me, you may break it down even further by celebrating food, water, shelter, warmth, or a day of good health. Words of Affirmation Reciting positive affirmations to yourself may seem hokey, but in reality I have found the ability to self sooth a most invaluable skill. Offering yourself reassurance and comfort during a stress trigger or mental health episode can help keep you grounded, as well as relieve your friends and family of the duty. Self-Care Self-Care is useful in terms of practicing positivity because it demonstrates self-love. This also takes practice and will be different for everyone. As an introvert, I prefer wind down rather than charge up techniques. Comedy and Cuteness Laughter is essential to my well-being. I was raised by two parents with a genuine and solid sense of humor and so found the value in it very early. When you have a mental health condition you may suffer from over-thinking. Good humor and the cuteness of infants or animals helps to pluck me from the conundrum of getting in my own way by offering some light heartedness and those feel-good hormones of belly laughter. Likewise, affection legitimately reduces stress levels. Healthy Risk-Taking Research shows that risk taking reinforces positivity by providing the satisfaction the memory of taking a risk can provide. Anytime we attempt to or actually dispel fear almost always results in meaningful personal growth. This is especially true for anxiety sufferers where fear runs irrationally rampant. The truth is mental health conditions can rob us of our lenses. Positivity is where the practice of one day at a time relieves the fear of big picture thinking. What helps you maintain positivity? Additional Reading: 11 Ways to Boost Positive Thinking, Psychology Today **If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at!** For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide! In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!