Tag Archives: energy

Energy!

11 Mar

Chronic illness cat

 

Chronic illness cat, you speak the truth.

Gentle hugs,

Chels

The new normal. (How not to torture yourself with unrealistic expectations.)

21 Aug

When you adjust to a life change that limits your physical and mental abilities even slightly, it takes patience. For a recovering perfectionist and independent like me, it’s a sometimes excruciating process.  So, I’d like to share some things I’ve learned so far.

1. Your new normal. In most ways you’re the same person, but, let’s be real, there are things you can’t do that you used to be able to do. It may be a sport or a technical skill, or it may be something as simple as enjoying a night out with your friends. The key is not to compare your normal to anyone else’s, or, perhaps more importantly, your old version of normal. If you need to make your goals and achievements smaller, that’s okay. It doesn’t make your accomplishments any less significant! If all you can manage to do today is get out of bed, brush your teeth, and take a shower, then you’ve done three things, and you should be proud. Those three things could be the equivalent of running a day’s worth of errands during your old normal.

2. Be honest and patient. Some people will understand and try to adapt to your new normal, and others might get frustrated or take it personally that you aren’t able to spend as much time with them or do the things you used to do together. Be as honest with yourself and your family and friends as you can. Explain to them what your limitations are now, and why. Just like you’re expecting them to have patience with you, have patience with them if they forget you can’t do something, or if you’re left out of an event because they just assume you wouldn’t be able to do it. They may not feel what you feel, but they’re going through this process with you, and, hopefully, trying to adapt.

3. You may lose a friend (or two.) It’s sad, but usually losing a friend over your illness has a silver lining. Not everyone you know may be emotionally capable of seeing you go through what you’re going through, in which case you’d spend the majority of your time and energy comforting them instead of taking care of yourself, anyway. It could also be that they were just a “seasonal” friend, or maybe not a good friend at all. If their friendship depends entirely on what you give them and not on what they can give to you, then, again, you could spend all your time and energy trying to keep up that dynamic, even if your health suffers for it. Remember that people handle stressful situations differently. That doesn’t make them bad people, just different, and you both may be better off going your separate ways.

4. Best buds. Just like you may lose someone you love, you’ll probably figure out which of your friends will stick by you no matter what. You may also form strong relationships with people you may not have been close to before. Someone may struggle with a similar illness, or they may really love staying inside and being a homebody – something you may have to get used to if you’re a person who likes to go out a lot. Be open to new friendships!

5. Body language. If you weren’t aware of your body before, now’s the chance to practice listening to it. I still have a tendency to overdo it on days that I feel better, but then I pay for it later. Understand how you need to treat yourself in order to prevent flares or unnecessary pain, and you’ll save yourself a lot of grief. Manage your time wisely, and spread out chores and responsibilities if you can. For instance, do one type of cleaning for 10-15 minutes a day, rather than cleaning your whole home at once.

6. S.O.S. When you learn how to listen to your body, you’ll learn that sometimes all the time management and pacing yourself doesn’t quite do the trick. You may have enough energy to go to the store, but you may not be able to carry all of the groceries. Ask an employee to load your car, and ask a friend or family member to help you unload when you get home. Believe me when I say that it’s not worth your pride to hurt yourself. Usually, the people who want to be there for you feel helpless when it comes to your illness, and asking for their help can benefit them just as much as it benefits you. As a friend at church said to me once, “Don’t deny someone a blessing by refusing their help.” If someone offers to help when you need it, just say yes.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned while coping with your illness?

Gentle hugs,

Chels