I often tell clients to give themselves credit for what they accomplish and grace for what they don't. A chronic illness introduces things into your life that other people don't have to deal with and being in constant pain makes those things even more difficult. I've written before about usable hours -- the number of hours you can actually do things that are expected in life like work, have fun, spend time with friends and family, do household chores, run errands, enjoy hobbies. For many of us all the things we do to increase those usable hours is completely crazy.
I'm currently trying to overcome these feelings of serious "I'd rather do anything else besides do one more thing". It's not that I'm overly busy. It's that I've spent months doing therapy for 5-6 hours a day because I've been blessed to get a Lympha Press. Yes, I do realize it's a blessing and it has helped me an incredible amount. My whole life had to shift to make this therapy happen because I suddenly had a new fulltime job. After a few weeks I realized I'd neglected other parts of my self-care routine and it was beginning to affect me. I'd skipped some doses of my bovine dessicated thyroid that I take for Hashimoto's. I wasn't eating those three Brazil nuts each day to get my selenium. I wasn't do nightly foot spas infused with magnesium. I wasn't eating enough or staying hydrated because I was trying to fit in my extremely helpful Lympha Press sessions. They were helping so much I wanted to make sure and get them in, but in the process I let other things slip.
I constantly feel like I'm teetering on the edge of whatever this delicate balance is that allows me to live with several chronic illnesses. Not just stay alive while having these illnesses, but LIVE. The weight of lipedema isn't just on our larger body parts, it's carrying the responsibility of always having to be disciplined in every area of life. Every bite of food has to be analyzed to make sure I won't have a reaction and since I can't just grab something convenient, every bit of food has to be planned in advance. The times I eat have to be planned around doses of supplements and being squeezed in the Lympha Press. Often, it comes down to doing another Lympha Press session I really need or eating when I haven't eaten in seven hours. And then I glance at that glass of water that looks about as full as it did that morning and another bottle of something I forgot to take. And I am overwhelmed.
In between all of that, I'm a homeschool mom, teaching my sweet child from the Lympha Press, needing to rearrange how our school days look so I can also be a mom who does this therapy so I can be a mom who does more than just therapy and hurt. A mom who needs to feel good enough so my house doesn't appear on an episode of Hoarders and my adult kids can come over for family dinners. A wife who doesn't like feeling guilty as my husband has steadily taken over more and more of what I used to do. Is this a day my daughter can sit on my lap, a day when I can lift the laundry soap bottle, a day when I'll feel like going on the outing we planned by the time I've showered and gotten ready to go? I never really know.
I know that the long list of things I juggle enables me to have more of the moments in life that matter. I know that they are important and have helped me live life mostly out of bed and with significantly decreased pain. And I am grateful. But sometimes, I am also extremely tired of the constant need to do all the things. Sometimes I just need some time to be fed up with all of it and wish I could just do the simplest thing without all that has to go with it. I've realized it's important to let myself feel the sadness, frustration, anger, despair. They're valid feelings and shoving them aside and pretending I'm thrilled to battle chronic illness would be living a lie. So I let myself cry and then I remind myself that while I'm living my life, I'm concurrently living a chronic illness life and that is hard.
Grace. It's the only way I'd be able to continue forward, because my path will not be perfect. I will do what I can, then it will be too much, then I'll give myself the grace I need to begin again.