On Life With a Chronic Illness & Holding Yourself Back

I’ve realized something lately. Something that I keep doing that’s really holding me back.

I say to myself:

“I’ll do (such and such) when I’m feeling (such and such)”

For example:

  • “I’ll start going to yoga again when I have more energy”
  • “I’ll work on that project when I’m feeling better”
  • “I’ll figure out my classes when I’m not feeling so stressed”

I’ve been saying stuff like this over and over again these past couple of months. But the problem is, there’s no set time that I’m going to have more energy, or feel better, or be less stressed. And all of those qualifications are so subjective anyways, that I could be feeling slightly better, but tell myself it’s still not enough to be able to do whatever it is that I was waiting to do.

That’s when I realized it probably makes more sense just to do the things I want/have to do now, rather than waiting for some future time whenΒ I’ll magically feel like a million bucks.

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The reason I finally noticed myself doing this was because I have to complete an internship in order to graduate. I kept putting it off in my mind because I was so incredibly nervous about taking on something with so many unknowns.

See, I’ve learned how to deal with my chronic illness in a variety of different ways. One of them is time management, and making sure I build in enough time to rest and nap just in case I’m in the midst of a flare or any other type of sickness.

But with this impending need to add an internship to my plate, I would have to reorganize my current schedule, which has become extremely comfortable for me. I’m able to get all my schoolwork done, go to work each day, and have time to rest, socialize, and do fun things. Adding an internship could throw this all off (is what my brain keeps telling me).

A lot of this stress was also due to the fact that for a few weeks I was on antibiotics for early Lyme Disease that were making me feel like s-h-i-t. I also had a Sjogren’s flare (which may or may not have been related) which gave me a swollen parotid gland and extra fatigue. So I was definitely not feeling well physically, which makes me not feel well mentally, and I basically couldn’t imagine me being able to do an internship at all.

But here’s the thing: autoimmune diseases flare. That’s just what the fuck they do.

The course of an autoimmune disease is a lot like the course of life.

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Life has it’s ups and downs, autoimmune diseases have their flares. But you can’t always wait for that upswing to get on with your life.Β You have to keep living even when you’re climbing that mountain.

So yes, it’s still important to take time to rest, and yes, sometimes you do have to unplug from the world for a while, but life still goes on around you and its important to hop back on the train when you can, even if only at a limited capacity for a while.

And also, don’t let the fear of a future flare/down keep you from pursuing something. The reason I’m most nervous about taking on an internship is that I could have a flare during it and be too tired to do my best work or even show up at all.

But guess what: I (and you) cannot predict the future! I could have a flare sure, and what’s the worst that could happen? I have to quit and pursue the internship at another time? That’s no so bad. And if it does work out, then even better!

I know that my Sjogren’s will flare at times. I also know that everyone will hit bumps in their lives. No one’s life is smooth sailing all the time. But we can’t let that stop us from living.

 

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