Something I have learnt about myself this year, and something that’s been pointed out to me again and again, is that I tend to put other people’s feelings above my own physical health.
“It would make him so happy if I went.”
“They would feel so disappointed if I cancelled.”
“She might feel I don’t care if I don’t go.”
“He’ll be sad if I’m too ill to do it.”
“It will affect them if I don’t go.”
“I should be able to do this for them because I love them.”
“I’ll just block out some rest days afterwards and do this huge thing that I know isn’t sensible in any way but I don’t want to let them down.”
I think it’s just in my nature to be this way. But it can definitely be detrimental to my physical health. Mostly I live well, within my limits, with times when I do more than is sensible because it makes me happy and keeps that cabin-fever at bay. But on top of this I also think about the feelings of others as a matter of priority, often disregarding the seriousness of my health condition.
I want to do all of the things with all of the people. (Sometimes I don’t want to do certain things but I do them for other people. Because that can be Adult Life, but I’m talking about my physical health here.)
Something has to change. This year has been transformative and my bravest one yet. But I still can’t master this bit. In fact I’m only just starting out. But you’ve got to start somewhere. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dreadful at this. I can do it sometimes. But it is most definitely not my default setting. I will have to actively persuade myself to speak up and say when I need more allowances to be made for something to be more suitable for me with my M.E.
I’ve got to hold my head up high and say, politely, “I’m not able to do that.” And it’s not my fault that I can’t. I have tried to do this with confidence over the years but I have buckled when push comes to shove and opted for whatever pleases everyone else instead of what is best for me. I have tried. I am trying. I will keep trying.
I think it’s also important to note that my 21 year old self was once told by a trusted medical professional that if I couldn’t [get better] for myself then I should do it for my parents “so they can get their lives back.” That has stayed with me all this time. Some of you will have heard me mention it before. It’s stuck in the back of my head and that sentence has fed the idea that I’m a burden, that I put people out, that I should just do what’s best for everyone because this is affecting them too.
I take great strength in seeing others with similar health struggles doing what’s best for their own health even when it is so hard and upsetting, for them and those around them, in doing so. I want to be brave like they are.