As everyone knows from my most recent blog posts, I have not been the ambassador of good physical or mental health lately. I am happy to report, however, that I feel like I am starting to slowly feel an improvement in my depressive disorder symptoms and I am confident I can get this turned around.
I think I have finally figured out after over 20 years of being sick that you never get used to being sick and that chronic illness never gets any easier. Part of my realization lately and some of what I believe led to my emotional demise was finally, fully, accepting 100% that I am not getting well and that I will always be sick unless by some chance a cure is found. For years I have been saying that I am not in denial but I know now that part of me has always kept that fire burning that I could be the old me again. I keep looking for that person, striving for that person to come back – and it can’t happen. It physically is just not possible and by trying to force myself to be something that I want to be but that I can’t is only going to further ruin my health physically and emotionally.
You would think that after being sick for so long, I would know all the right things to say about what is wrong with me, would be used to waking up not feeling well and not being able to go and do as I please, and would adapt to this lifestyle as people adapt to whatever their “normal” is. But with ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia or whatever the chronic illness may be, that isn’t the case. I don’t remember what it is like to feel well but I can honestly say that I still have not adapted to having to live like this either. Every day changes, there’s no routine, no rhyme or reason and pain and sickness is the only routine in my life.
Admitting that I have been denying denial is hard but it’s important for my mental and physical health. I need to be strong mentally if I want to have a chance physically. Even though I have accepted the fact that I am NOT getting well, I still think it’s important to do whatever I can to take care of myself and I will still continue to watch what I eat and exercise when I am able. I don’t feel that acceptance gives me a license to say, “Screw it – I’m sick so why take care of myself?” I believe that doing what I’ve been doing has enabled me to continue working when I probably wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
Speaking of working – I have also quit denying denial about my work situation and I no longer even browse through the full-time corporate office positions at work in the breakroom. Every day I would go into work before my shift would start and I would go through the folder of job openings and tell myself that one of these days I would be working full-time at one of the office positions at headquarters. How am I supposed to do that when I can’t work more than 12 – 15 hours a week now? I’m not giving up on myself and I haven’t quit dreaming and hoping. I still want to do things; I still have hopes and dreams. I just know that they can’t be unrealistic like what I was doing. I have been setting myself up for failure and only making my own life harder in the process.
I’ve always expected way too much of myself and that is a definite area of weakness I need to work on. I guess my mental stability hasn’t had any boost recently also due to the fact that I have been reminded so much of all of the things I need to work on. Feeling pressure from others plus putting pressure on myself to be someone and something that I just physically can’t be has been too much for me.
On this journey through chronic illness I find that I continue to learn more and more about myself all of the time. I am learning that regardless of what is said about me, I strive to push forward, I strive to make my life better and I strive to always be a better person. In order to be a better person, one must be able to look within and see their own faults. We never can see all of our faults but I think I do a pretty good job of working on areas for improvement.
One thing I know for sure – I am done with denial!