Allowing yourself to feel bad


When you are, or have been, chronically ill for a period of time, you become used to feeling ill.  Sick.  Tired.  In pain.  Just plain bad.  It becomes the norm.  You learn how to live with it, you develop strategies to push past it, accept it, work around it.  So that becomes normal.  So your good days slowly become these days; the days you’re able to push past, medicate enough, (whether it’s prescription meds, caffeine, etc) become standard.  They become your good days.  So long as you’re able to get up and do some of your stuff it’s a good day.

But then you feel good about it.  You’re still able to work, you’re still engaging in self care activities, you’re still able to go out and shop and every now and again go out with friends.  But then one day you’re more tired than usual.  You’re in more pain.  Your appetite is weird.  But you push through and go about your day.  Then the next day comes… You can barely move… You’re in incredible pain…You’re foggy…You can’t focus on anything… You know that you will be spending the day in bed.

And why?  Because you didn’t let yourself be sick.  You should have taken it easy the day before, maybe medicated more, maybe do some other self care activity to help you keep as many spoons as possible.  But because you didn’t now you’re really down for the count that day, and possibly the next.

This is why it is vitally important that us spoonies let ourselves be sick when we need to.  This is also why it’s important to learn our bodies, to learn the cost and toll certain activities takes from us, so we know what we can do and to know how we’re going to have to alter plans for the rest of the day, the next day, and so forth.

For me there are a handful of things I consider:

  • How physically strenuous is it?
    • Will I need to be physical for a length of time?
    • Does it involve heavy lifting?
  • Is the place accessible?
    • Is there an elevator?  If not how many stairs will I need to climb?
    • What kind of seating will be available?
    • Is there a restroom near by?
  • What is the weather like?
    • Will I need to bring a jacket? Maybe an umbrella?
    • Will it be hot or humid?  Cool or cold?  Damp?
  • Will there be food there?
    • If so is it safe for me to eat?
    • If not can I eat before or after?  How will that affect my day if I need to?
  • How long will this event/activity last?
    • Will I need to bring meds?
    • If so will there be water available for me to take them?
    • Will my sleep be affected?
    • Is it running late?  If so can I caffeinate?
    • If I need to caffeinate do I need to be up early the next day?
  • Will I be able to leave early if I need to?
    • Can I drive myself?
    • Will my leaving early be disruptive?
    • Would my leaving early make things awkward with anyone?
    • Will anyone there demand specific reasons of my leaving early?

At any rate, I feel like I’ve gotten off track, but really this is one of the major reasons we need to allow ourselves to be sick, stay home, rest, etc when we need to.  For those of us with invisible illnesses (or any other chronic illness) there are innumerable factors we must consider.  Consider for how the activity will affect the rest of our day and the next day, and if we don’t take that sick day?  We can throw most if not all other activities out the window for at least a day or two.

Readers, take that sick day.  Not only do you deserve it but it is your right.