Finding Joy Helps Me Push Past the Hard Days With SMA

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by Alyssa Silva |

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A banner for Alyssa Silva's column "Life, One Cup at a Time," which depicts hands holding a cup of coffee — beside them are various desk items like a planner and plant

I did something that I’m afraid to publicly admit. Sure, I did it willingly. And in this corner of the internet, I share my life openly and honestly with those who are willing to read it.

So it only seems fair that, despite my hesitancy to share this with you, I let my guard down. After all, our vulnerability in writing is what makes writers truly great. Without further ado, it’s time I share this with you.

I started listening to Christmas music in October.

Yes, that is a true statement. I, Alyssa Silva, started getting into the Christmas spirit while leaves were still on the trees and pumpkins adorned my household. I know what you’re probably thinking. October is far too early to start getting into all things merry and bright.

“It isn’t even Halloween yet,” was the typical response I got from folks I confided in. Then, they reminded me it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet, either. As if I have forgotten about turkey day.

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The truth behind the truth, however, is simple. Christmas — whether it’s in the form of a song, movie, activity, or cookie — brings me joy. And if there’s anything SMA has taught me, it’s that you need to know how to create your own joy sometimes.

Finding joy in the tough moments

Living with a disability can present many challenges, and, of course, I’ve navigated through many challenging times throughout my life. I’ve experienced pain, grief, loss, and defeat living in a body that takes its sweet time atrophying away. But while these challenges have come in many different forms, they all have one common theme: the absence of joy.

At the same time, I used to label my experiences as if feeling happy or sad were absolutes. If I was experiencing sadness, whether it was due to an illness, impending procedure, or some odd health concern, I didn’t think I was capable of experiencing happiness at the same time. One emotion had to be felt in totality before I could move on to a different one. So when challenges arose, I never realized I could still experience joy amid the situation at hand.

Fortunately, I’ve since learned that this mentality wasn’t serving me. If I wasn’t able to outsmart the challenges, I’d simply make room for joy to coexist in the same space. And as I may have suggested earlier with my Christmas music confession, it doesn’t take much to bring me joy. But there’s so much for me to take from these joyful moments.

Joy is what carries me through the hard days. It is something I can bottle up and cling tightly to, something that fuels me to keep moving forward. I find it in the most ordinary of places these days, like when my 5-year-old nephew tells me about his soccer game or when Bing Crosby tells me he’s dreaming of a white Christmas.

No matter the day, month, or season, if it’s something that’s going to bring me joy, I’m going to pursue it unapologetically.

Note: SMA 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 SMA News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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