Having a chronic illness is hard. We do things at a pain level that would keep most people in bed, and we do it every. Single. Day. In addition to Fibromyalgia, I also battle Depression and Anxiety, and there are times when it feels like managing everything is an insurmountable task. There are times when it feels like I'm Sisyphus and my job/to-do list/goals/dreams/responsibilities are the rock I have to push uphill everyday, and my symptoms/illness/etc. is the reason it rolls back down to the bottom of the hill every day; and I just never seem to get get that rock to the top of that hill.
Like I said, living with a chronic illness is hard. Working this hard every day for a prolonged period of time and seeing little results as far as how you feel, never seeming to get better, and considering there is no cure in sight- it's hard both physically and emotionally. It's also easy to go to what I call "the dark and swirly place," which is not a state of mind you want to be in, trust me. Living with that kind of demoralizing existence every day is exhausting in every way- it's really, really hard, and sometimes in order to keep going and keep fighting, you have to stop and rest.
I'm not just talking about physically resting when you're in physical pain (and are basically bedridden and therefore forced to rest)- but I mean taking a mental rest when you need it as well. It's so important to remember to regularly practice self-care so you stay as healthy, both mentally and physically, for as long as possible- but it's also important that when the time comes that you need to take a real break, you recognize it, and you take it. Unapologetically.
Maybe you need some serious physical rest. Maybe you need some serious mental rest. It doesn't matter. The time to stop and rest comes for us all, every human on the planet, because life is hard, and every once in a while, you just need it! Now, for those of us who have chronic illnesses, that time may come more often that it does for people that don't. People may not understand why you need the break. That's okay. Take the break anyway.
It doesn't help that this world tells us to validate ourselves by our output. By how busy we are. It tells us to feel shame when we're resting and to work through the pain and to be as busy as possible and take on as many projects as possible, and if you're not running in circles you're not doing enough.
Don’t listen to the messaging the world is selling you, listen to yourself, and if you need to rest, allow yourself to rest so you can keep going. So you can show up as the best version of yourself. Take the space you need to heal so you can come back swinging. There are benches along paths for a reason- so you can take a break and rest, to heal or to take a moment to enjoy life, and then continue along your path.
I recently had to take a rest, and I'm slowing coming back into myself, and that's okay. Our pace is our pace, and that's okay. I needed a break so I could keep going, and I'm taking it. And it feels great.
Wishing you the time and space you need to be your best self,
FSC Founder and Fabulous Fibro-Fighter
A couple weeks ago I had to travel for work, and I worked pretty hard (and put in some long hours to boot) on this trip. I'm sure it doesn't surprise my fellow Spoonies to hear that when I got back, I promptly got sick. It started with a sore throat the morning after I got back, and before 24 hours had elapsed, I had a full-on Summer cold. Boo!
It's unfortunate that most Spoonies tend to have a higher chance of getting sick when they push themselves too hard, but the fact that getting sick makes our other symptoms worse seems just downright rude. Being inhibited by the limitations my Fibromyalgia symptoms place on me is bad enough (I'd much rather be able to work and have adventures without worrying about getting sick and/or a possible flare), and let me tell you, being a sick exhausted mess is NOT how I wanted to spend the last two weeks!
I've been feeling pretty listless lately. Not to mention tired, achy, grumpy... all in all pretty much in desperate need of a mental and physical break.
It can be frustrating when you spend so much energy trying to make sure you're doing all the things to keep yourself mentally and physically healthy (I try to eat right[ish], get in some occasional exercise [within my limits], I speak kindly to myself and am patient with my limitations, I am mindful of my music and television/movie/book choices) and yet mental and physical health continue to be a struggle for me- and I know I'm not alone in that struggle, so I want to ask you something:
Have you checked-in with yourself lately? How are you doing? If it's been a while since you've asked yourself these kinds of questions, I encourage you to take some time and check-in with yourself. If you're not sure how to do this, I've included a few helpful resources below:
Sometimes you get mad. Sometimes, when you get mad, you are inevitably and inexplicably forced to process what happened to trigger such a passionate response in yourself. Sometimes as you're processing, you make a connection between past trauma and what you allow for yourself, and it's really hard to be that honest with yourself and to heal and grow through it. Trust me, I know- I've been through this process a million times, I'm going through it again now, and I'm sure I'll go through this or something similar a million more times before I die. C'est le vie and all that, right?
In life, we inevitably and occasionally have to look at how we deal with things; at what we allow for ourselves and how that fits into what we've been conditioned to allow or believe about ourselves. I know a lot of people with chronic physical and/or mental illness, people like me, who struggle with feelings of worth, and I want to take this time to tell you that your feelings matter. That you matter, and are relevant. I want you to know, no matter what, that your needs deserve to be met. You are not a burden, you carry a burden and that is NOT the same thing.
It’s that time of year, it's Holiday Season! Monday is the last night of Hanukkah, this entire month is prime Christmas party time, then there’s Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa and several other observances on the calendar, and lastly, there's New Years- there is a lot going on this month! Between family, friends, and work, your calendar can fill up quickly, and for people with chronic illness, that's not necessarily a good thing.
This Holiday Season I'd like to remind you to set boundaries. Don't feel like you have to go to every party- if you don't feel up to it you can stay home. Don't feel like you have to go to every friend or family event- especially if they aren't supportive, don't understand your illness, or challenge your mental health in any way. If you don't feel up to going to a work party- don't go. You have every right to turn down invitations, to change your mind about going to things you said you'd go to, and to do what it takes to protect your mental and physical well-being.
Practice releasing your guilt if it comes up. Consider this your official pass to do what is right for you. A lot of people have a hard time during the Holiday Season, and that's okay! Please be sure to make sure you're setting appropriate boundaries and taking care of yourself while you're celebrating (or not celebrating) this month. You're worth it!
Heather, Fabulous Fibro-Fighter and FSC Founder