How our expectations of self have unwillingly shifted based on chronic illness:
After the symptoms have hit our lives, we find ourselves crawling into ourselves, into the world we have now created where we feel sanity is keeping us afloat. Our standards of ourselves have shifted unwillingly and our standards of others even more. What used to be a life of picking out what we craved from the millions of options within this world, is now figuring out how to mask the details of what we have become and forced to the choices that still seem tangible. Our sense of awareness leads to the idea that we are so far removed from what was, but at the same time understanding the limits and expectations that have unwilling shifted based on our symptoms of chronic illness.
Some aspects of our lives that have shifted are pieces that seem impossible to maintain, though they are basics of what keeps us going and fundamentally taking care of ourselves. We can’t even uphold these basic needs because energy is lessened and we are trying to figure out how to use the little amount that we have. As our lives have shifted, making our expectations of selves different. We are painfully aware of how the way we dress changed, how our friendships seem to drift, how the environment we live in doesn’t have the same feel. They shift because they are hard to maintain and depending on what our symptoms require we may simply just need things to look differently. We may not want them to shift, but figuring out how we can best live within the new normal will allow for those moments that we want to crawl deep inside ourselves less painful, by nurturing the basics of our lives we desire despite everything the symptoms cause.
Below are 5 ways to make the expectations of self, easier despite chronic illness, by touching on different areas of our lives.
5 ways to make the idea self expectation seem easier!
Reshaping what relationships look like.
It is important for each of us to connect with people in one way or another. Our relationships shift based on; how much time is spent with them, when we spend with them, what we do with them, and maybe even how we are symptoms are when we are with them. Initially, when we have symptoms, our social life will feel as if it came to a complete stop and be very different. We never know when we are going to feel ok enough to spend time with loved ones and it may be months before we get back to someone. Surround yourself with people who will understand that you care deeply for them, but seeing them on a regular base is more of a want then a reality. Also the type of ways you can spend with them may shift and change, you may find yourself having more conversations over the phone, coffee dates during hours that you usually have fewer symptoms, having plans in environments that won’t affect your symptoms, or creating plans with a group so you can step away if needed. Create a list of places you feel comfortable spending time at and figure out when your best hours are (when you tend to have the least amount of symptoms), and set aside one or two times a month to spend with someone. Also, give yourself credit that you may not feel good, so you can always change plans!
Understanding the foundation of who we are.
Symptoms can take control of our emotions and set us up in a spin where we can’t focus on anything but what is happening to our body. We lose what we thought defined us as a person. We deal with life differently than we previously did, so how can we figure out what kind of humans we want to be despite all the changes, the upset, the stripped life of what we thought defined who we are? We figure out through chronic illness what is important at the core and how we want to be defined. We as individuals may feel overwhelmed by our new situation, but there is also the idea that we are still us fundamentally, with the ability to have control of making decisions within our circumstances. We get to decide how we interact with others, our choices, how we decide to get through life, how we love and care. Figure out what is important to you fundamentally and figure out what kind of person you want to be and yes it is so hard with chronic illness, but we have the best version of us.
Staying motivated to do the basics.
Basic hygiene can be brushed off or set aside so easily because even those are so difficult when we are having symptoms. The idea that a shower takes so much effort and brushing your teeth twice a day, ha try for maybe once a day. We have little energy, but there is a list of what our body requires along with what health care providers require, which makes the basics fall to the side. Create a list of basics that you feel you don’t do within your daily routine, but need to. Pick one of the items and focus on it till you get the foundation of it in your routine, then add another. Figure out when the best time tends to be to do the task if you need help with completing the task, or even what tools help you complete the task in the best way despite your symptoms.
Figure out what motivates you.
There are days when waking up n is all that you can do. There are days where getting out of bed even seems incredibly difficult. Not only do we deal with symptoms, but our lives that are now a result of our symptoms, like it or not require us to find a great motivation to keep moving forward. A motivation that allows us to get out of bed, helps us to move forward with treatments, pushes us to take care of ourselves in the best way, and encourages us to keep seeking the best lives. These motivations can come from anything. Some examples may include; your kids, your spouse, your pets, yourself, something living you have to take care of, having a deadline, accountability, plans, knowing your importance within a situation, a higher power, a good book you want to finish, etc. It may change day to day, depending on what you need to do for that day. Create a list of things that motivate you to keep moving forward and carry the list around with you or place it somewhere that can be a reminder of the motivations within your life.
Creating a “can do” and “maybe sometimes can do” list.
Saying “I can’t do it,” is really hard to wrap our mind around, so let’s create the idea of “sometimes I can do it.” This means that maybe some days you can do a project with such ease (even if it is just for 10 minutes), sometimes you can do the project with a stop and go process, and sometimes you just need to do something different. These projects can include; house chores, work requirements, socializing, etc. Feeling that you can contribute to this world is important, not only for you and what you are personally experiencing but in general to your people. With this said, though, there are some things that we can for sure do and there are some things that we “sometimes can do.” You’re “sometimes can do” list will probably seem a lot longer then your “can do” list, but this allows for you to feel that if there are days where you can contribute and days where your energy needs to be spent somewhere else. There might also be items on your “sometimes you can do” list that you may never get to. Don’t worry about it for a second. Create the two lists and talk to the people you live with. Remember the list can always shift and change.
What is the hardest self expectation you know you have to maintain and how do you maintain it?
T r u l y , L i n d y