Toxic Positivity

From the perspective of a parent who has lost their child to suicide, I do not get to “choose” how I view this world.  The choice was taken away from me by my child’s illness and death.  I am not the person I was before and to assume that I can just resume that role and be the person I was before is ignorant.

I do see the world differently because I have experienced the world differently than the person who hasn’t had to deal with what I have lived.  And to be honest, my experience and viewpoint is valuable because without it, without my speaking up about it, how could we expect others to be understanding or even tolerant of it?

This doesn’t mean I always walk around seeing the bleak and dark side of things, but yes, there are times when I do.  And if a person could just “choose happy”, then why is the suicide rate at epidemic levels?  Mental illness isn’t a choice and by not defining that within the scope of so many articles on being positive and changing your mindset, we have done too many a disservice.

The “Choose Happy”, “Be Positive”, “Good Vibes Only” quotes are everywhere you turn and they are truly only for those who can make that choice.  For those who can’t? They can make those people feel hopeless.  Like something is wrong with them because they can’t just make that choice to be happy.

“The mind and the brain are one and the same.” This was said to my son by his neurologist and something he would explain in his speeches.  His illness was just like any other illness that has symptoms and outcomes that aren’t favorable.  He couldn’t just think away bad thoughts.  His illness wouldn’t let him because his illness affected his mind.  Think about that for a minute.  Truly think about it.  If you have a brain disorder, then doesn’t it stand to reason that perhaps your mind might be affected?

If love could have saved my son, then he would still be alive.  It’s a quote those of us who have lived with loss see a lot.  And it’s true.  Love alone isn’t enough.  And trust me, if I could choose happy all of the time, I most certainly would.  But some days I can’t.  And guess what?  That’s ok.

-Hilaire Phillips

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