If you ever give up plans, quit jobs, or become increasingly lax on chores/duties due to an illness or chronic condition, boy howdy, this post is for you.
The month of October hates me. Judging by the conversations I’ve had with friends, family, and co-workers, I bet it hates you too. Not sure what plant/flower/chemical cryptonite infiltrates my world and the world of most of my dear friends this time every year, but it’s like God or the Fates (or Science or the Spaghetti Monster or whatever you believe in) is turning us all into zombies because everyone has this headache/sinus bullshit from hell, and we all just have to keep on keeping on. In addition to all the normal body malfunctions we have.
I’m trying to get better about not trash talking my body, because I’ve been told it’s doing its best, so I’m going to continue. It’s difficult not to do it, but I don’t rage up and down against my loved ones so why should I put down the person that’s closest to me? Anyway, it’s one of my goals…
As it happens, the universe doesn’t shut down just because I feel like feces incarnate. Instead, I have to cancel plans, avoid interactions in case I am contagious, and lie around a lot. Even my hand/arm has started rebelling against my #Drawlloween/#Inktober contributions where everyday I draw a new creature to celebrate the glory of Halloween. It’s required icing, a special arm vice that makes me look like a professional (minus the pain, that part’s kinda bad ass), and rest. And an increasing dose of reminders, mantras, and acceptance to deal with slowing down, taking it easy, and not pushing myself beyond my limits.
It’s not easy.
It’s not easy to say no to your friends and family when events happen. It’s not easy to say no when your boss offers you more hours at work. It’s not easy when you’re lying in bed in the middle of the night close to tears, because you’re so tired you feel like you can’t crawl out of bed into the living room, but lying in bed ups your already mounting insomnia. It’s not easy wondering if your low-grade fever is from an actual flu passing around or your chronic condition flaring.
Letting down the ones you love hurts everyone, but especially the person who’s letting you down (or just the guilt involved with the letting down). It’s hard to watch your friends accomplish their goals like buying a house when you have to resign due to medical conditions that no one, especially you, understands (even when you’re so, so excited for them, because they’re doing amazing, wonderful things with their lives and that’s awesome). It’s hard to see babies and small children and wonder if you’re ever going to be able to have them (regardless of whether or not you want them…because it’s a whole new ballgame when that option feels like it’s being taken off the table). It’s hard trying to decide what errands you have to do right now, because you hurt so badly that your judgement is clouded (spoon theory, look it up). It’s hard when your doctors who are supposed to help you tell you that “you have to believe you’re going to get better.” Bitch, this is not all in my head. I have a documented problem that is finally recognized.
These are all challenges. Everyday physical, mental, and emotional challenges.
I’ve tried to stop RSVPing to events. I’ve tried to stop telling friends why we’re not going to make it. But the guilt will never end. I will always feel bad, just like I feel bad when my body stiffens up, and my back spasms from my multiple injuries.
What I am doing is reading books that help like When the Body Says No and How to Be Sick which is a Buddha based guide to help sick people and their caregivers understand and strategize ways to make their burdens lighter. It’s much more helpful than the title makes it sound.
To summarize, Frida Kahlo had a pole go through her. A POLE. And she still rocked the art world. We shall prevail.