It’s easy to be loving and generous when you are feeling healthy and happy. Finding it in your heart when you are sick or sad is the challenge. But it can be done. Rather than fake how you are feeling, find something comforting to focus on.

Before my mom died when I was 14, I was blissful and ignorant. Positivity and joy were my default settings. After she passed, friends of mine said that I changed and began keeping their distance, accusing me of being unkind, which puzzled and devastated me. I’m not innocent of such behavior. My sister has been sick for several years now, and understandably she has isolated herself from most friends and family. There are days when I reach out so that she knows I’m here and to tell her I love her, and then there are times when I feel like she’s always mad at me and why bother because she won’t respond anyways. Clearly, the latter is not the mature choice. Although I know this in my heart, there are times when I forget how hard it is when you are sick and sad. Every thought and movement takes major effort. You use what little energy you have to handle what is right in front of you and only what is necessary. You feel frustrated and angry about everything, especially people who make you feel misunderstood, however intentionally or unintentionally.

I’ve experienced this in the last year with my concussion. I look fine, and because its not cancer, people can’t figure out why I feel like such crap. My brain doesn’t work as well so everything takes ten times as much effort. I’ve been angry, overwhelmed and depressed. The idea for the website came to me right after it happened, and I’ve had to really fight some days to “be the love” when all I want to do is rip peoples head off and sleep in bed. It’s not easy, but on most down days, I’ve been able to get out of my funk and be grateful for something, if not many things. Because I decided to. On a few occasions, I’ve just had to accept that the best I could do was honor my feelings without sugar coating them or trying to fake happiness. Both have brought me solace.

If you are sick or sad, don’t fake it; find it. Find something to be grateful for and focus on that. I used to focus on the fact that even if my brain wasn’t working, my heart did. I could still feel love for my husband and children. Even if my brain was fuzzy and I was fatigued, my body was otherwise healthy, and that was something to be grateful for.

If you are happy and healthy but frustrated with a friend or family member who is in isolation or angry, you have to step up and be compassionate. It’s not up to them to reach out to you or make you feel better; it’s up to you to be understanding and find a meaningful way to help them. Even if they act like they don’t want the help or care. Being sick and sad is much harder than being offended or frustrated by someone. Finally, don’t fake it with them or expect them to fake it with you. Acknowledge what they are going through and be there for them to talk candidly about it.

Whether you are happy and healthy or sick and sad, try to find something comforting and focus on being grateful for that today.