Sunday, January 13, 2013

It's my RIGHT to Crash and Burn!

Living Within Boundaries

Boundaries... not a word that inspires many people. We are taught to break through barriers, to push the envelope, to always do more. But what happens when Chronic Fatigue or Fibromyalgia enter the mix? What happens when striving to do more backfires?

Aftermath of pushing too hard

As I pushed myself today to clean my bathroom, I suddenly realized the conversation I was having in my head. It went something like this -
     "Don't do this."
                        "I can't stand it anymore, I MUST clean my bathroom."
     "You don't have enough energy."
                        "I don't care. I WANT a clean bathroom."
     "You know what happens when you push too hard.
     "You WILL make yourself worse!"
                        "I DON'T CARE! I'm sick of this!!"

You can replace cleaning the bathroom with any activity that causes you to push past reason.

I am reading a couple of books that I highly recommend:
  1. Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain
  2. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Other Invisible Illnesses
Both books talk about how pushing beyond our physical limitations to the extreme will make us worse. To be honest, when I read that I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Because, let's face it, we have all pushed way beyond what we should. Every time an employer told us we had to show up at work, or there was an expectation from a family member, or every time there was some sort of emergency - there we were. There lies the problem.

Wonder Woman to the Rescue

Do you remember the original version of Wonder Woman? I really enjoyed the show, as corny as it was. It was awesome how she swooped in to save the day! I'm going to pick on us ladies now because, well... I'm a woman and we are four times as likely as men to develop it chronic fatigue. 

Stop disrespecting yourself!

That is what my psychologist told me one day. When I told him all about trying harder and pushing farther and doctor chasing, and on and on, he told me I had disrespected my own health boundaries. Wow, I had never thought about it like that before.
But you don't understand, I HAVE NO CHOICE!
That's what I thought too. I was terrified of losing my job, my husband, my life. Yes, while all these things could have happened, focusing on them kept me from taking care of me. Everything I was doing was fear-based. It was all about what others thought of me or expected of me. It had nothing to do with figuring out how to live my life in a healthy way.

Hard Lessons

I am in year five of all this. I must be a pro by now, right? 
My mom passed away in December. I flew back east to be with her, and I spent hours at the hospital by her bedside, then I spent time with family and pushed and pushed and pushed some more. Then after 10 days I came home and BAM! It was Christmas.
        I should have known better
But instead I pushed, I visited, I pushed, I smiled, I pushed, I hurt so badly, and I pushed. And now I'm worse. I relapsed and now I have new symptoms and more severe symptoms. Was it worth all the pushing? Did I have a choice? What do you think?

How the Heck do I Stop Being Me?

I have actually asked my husband this question because it feels like I am hazardous to my own health! It is no coincidence that many people with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia are A-type personalities. Driven perfectionists and often people pleasers, we seem incapable of flipping the OFF switch. As hard as this seems, it is vital to our health that we learn new habits, find that switch and just say "no".

Learn from the Masters

I find it easier to learn something when I have an example to follow. I don't know of any better example on how to relax than by watching my cats sleep... for hours.

So snuggle up with a furry friend, break out the bubble bath, relax with a good book, or maybe even listen to your relaxation CDs. Let's all take a collective deep breath and learn to be OK with taking care of ourselves.

Yours in health,