Resource type: Article

"You have to stay positive"

When we've spoken to other people about their illness or recovery, they very often tell us that "staying positive" (although sometimes difficult) was very important to them. It is often surprising to hear this from people who have had the most difficult time of it, but time and time again, they tell us how "lucky" they feel and how helpful it is to "count your blessings".

Here are some examples of the things people told us. It may take some time before you can start to think about the good things in life, but in the meantime, we hope this helps.

A wake up call 

Some people told us that ending up in Intensive Care was a real "wake up call". One lady told us, for example, that if she'd "probably be dead by now" if she'd carried on drinking the way she had been. Others told us how lucky they felt to be alive, sometimes just by "being in the right place at the right time"

"I think I am very, very lucky…to be alive.  If I had not been at home, close to such a good hospital, I probably would have been a goner. So I count myself as being very, very lucky…"

"If it hadn't been for my daughter calling the doctor, if I had been living on my own, I might have just gone (died)"

A twist of fate

Others told us about a particular "twists of fate" that made all the difference

"I had this rash, and it was spreading rapidly all over. The ambulance came, and on the way in...it crashed. We had to stop and call for another one...and it had a Doctor on board.I was very lucky, because he gave me an injection. They told me that if he hadn't given me that injection, I wouldn't be here..."

"My Mother came round on Saturday morning. She said, " I don't know why, but I had to see you." So my Mother phoned an ambulance and they took me right in. There's no two ways about it...if my Mother hadn't turned up that Saturday morning, I'd have died."

Happier times

Others reflected back on happier times in their lives as a source of comfort

"I’ve had a good life, you know...a wonderful life…great holidays, great friends, always doing something. These are the kind of things that you remember, that stand you in good stead for…anything you go through that’s not so good." 

Feeling like a better person

Others told us that they felt calmer or like a better person 

"It’s made me a different person. It’s hard to describe. I’m much calmer now. I don’t let the little things get to me so much now. I can’t describe it, but I have this inner sense of…calm. It’s probably not that obvious. My friends and family probably won’t have noticed a great change in me, but I know that I’ve changed".

Realising what's important in life

Many people talk about "re-prioritising" their lives

"My friends and family are much more important to me now. I enjoy life more. I don't get worked up about work and things like that. Not "manyana" or anything like that, but I don't let trivial things upset me now"

One man took the opportunity to change careers

"I have hugged myself and been near to girly tears at the reality that a once-dead man can walk and learn and be renewed and may be of use. I am reveling in my new life and my new beginning, and am convinced that it's the best thing I've ever done"

Taking better care of yourself

Many people told us that they looked after themselves much better because of their illness: 

"You know, I mean, there’re more to life than having a walk and going to the bookies and having a bet each day. I’ve not had a bet since. The drinking’s stopped, the smoking’s stopped, and my wife hopes that’ll last a lot longer yet (laughs).So I suppose I’m a bit more sensible than what I was before (laughs)".

No fear of death

People often tell us that they are no longer afraid of death

"I used to have a long-term terror of dying...I've no fear of that now! (laughs)"