Can’t “Just” Do It All Anymore?

slow

At some point in our life, we have to stop assuming that we can “just” do whatever we want. Sometimes we can’t “just” run to the store or “just” pick up the house. Sometimes it’s a bigger deal to get it done. Sometimes we expect this change to happen and sometimes it takes us completely by surprise. No matter how it happens, it’s an adjustment that we are forced to make whether we like it or not. It’s just the reality of it.

I think, for most of our life, we go along doing what we want to do or what we have to do without thinking too much about it. We go to school, we go to work, we go to the store, and we go out with friends. All of these things are done without too much thought. We’re in the habit of doing things we have to do, like cleaning the house or going to the grocery store. Most of the time, we just think of these things as necessary and get irritated if we don’t have the time or don’t really feel like doing it. If we get invited to a party or want to go to an event, we decide if we want to go or not.

At some point, however, some of these choices are either taken away from us completely or the choices become much more difficult to make. Sometimes it happens when we least expect it, like when it is due to an accident or an injury. This requires an abrupt change in lifestyle and a complete adjustment to how we have to manage our life versus how life used to be. Sometimes it’s a gradual process, for instance as we age. We know we’re just not quite as capable as we used to be or not quite as quick as we used to be but we learn to adjust to things over time and it’s accepted as a normal process. Sometimes, as with chronic illness, these choices are taken away from us and we can’t really explain it very well.

In all of these instances, life changes and we must learn to adjust to our new reality. Nobody wants to be in this position and nobody has asked for this. Sometimes we can blame our new reality on something specific like an accident or debilitating illness and we have something to be angry at. We have a name that we can blame, something that people understand and that can be easily explained. The other times, the times when there is no good reason for our declining functionality, results in a frustration that is not easily dealt with. That doesn’t help us and it’s just another adjustment that we have to make.

I can speak from a perspective of both aging and having a chronic illness. I can say that I am super frustrated daily. My life has changed in many ways over the past years and I’m not real happy about it. I will adapt, but not easily. Who wants to change their life in a negative way? I certainly didn’t want to give up working when I was finally at a place (and salary) in my career that I wanted to be and had worked toward my whole life. I’m not happy to be in an uphill financial battle with the government (which is woefully inadequate btw). I’m not happy to have to worry, every single day, about what I can and cannot do. Most of all, I’m not happy that these choices were not my doing and not mine to make; the choice was taken from me. We don’t like having choices taken away from us.

From what I have learned, it appears that people with chronic illness tend to be more of a Type A personality, which I definitely am. I’m also stubborn. It makes it much harder for me to admit that I don’t have control over many things in my life anymore and that I’m not able to always just do what I want to do. Dealing with our lack of control is as much of an issue as any other disability, loss of function, or impairment. As I’m aging, I’m also finding that I can’t do things the same way that I used to do them, which I continue to be surprised about…each and every time. You’d think I’d learn after awhile. I can’t multi-task quite nearly as well and things take longer than they used to, so I don’t get as much done. I still have pretty high expectations of myself so I find that I’m constantly being disappointed. One would think that, at some point, I would realize that this is now my “new” life, relax, and learn to adapt. It’s not always that easy.

Many of us, for various reasons, have to live with the reality that there is no such thing as “just” getting something done anymore. Every day when we get up, we make a choice of what we can do. Sometimes that choice needs to be adjusted as the day goes on. When I make a decision to go grocery shopping, it’s not “just” going shopping; it’s making sure I’m up for the walking, lifting, and driving and have nothing else that has to get done.  If I make a commitment to do something, I need to plan ahead and do the best that I can do to feel well enough and hope it stays that way. There are so many factors that play into how we live our lives that I couldn’t possibly list all the possible considerations. It’s discouraging enough to have to make concessions, so please be understanding if someone has difficulty or needs to change plans.

We all have varying circumstances; sometimes these changes are temporary and sometimes they are permanent. Either way, we all have our own set of limitations and do the best that we can to live within them. Adjusting to these changes isn’t easy and we need to understand how this affects people. I know it’s easy to be impatient when people are moving slowly in the grocery store or filling out forms, but it’s important to remember that they’re not doing these things to ruin your day. They’re doing the best that they can. I like to think that we are here to help each other out when we need it, but certainly the very least that we can do is not make their situation worse through our impatience or misunderstanding. For those of you that are struggling daily, take care of yourself in the best way that you can. The rest of us will be just fine. All of us are going to be older one day or have issues that make things a bit harder. Hopefully the people around us will be understanding and supportive of us when we need it as well.

Getting Through the Storm

storm_clouds
storm clouds

I’ve been thinking lately about how chronic illness affects people and was going to do an article about it. This is not about that though.

I realized when I first started thinking about this topic that the first two things that popped into my head were how all-consuming it can be and how people deserve compassion. Then I realized that these two things are not exclusive to people with chronic illness. They are, in fact, common to everybody and something that we should think about and be aware of when dealing with our own situations and when dealing with other people in any circumstance.

Think about it: everybody that we encounter throughout our day, from the cashier at the coffee shop to the person on the other end of the phone that we speak with, all have individual lives with problems of their own that they deal with.

  • New mothers are dealing with life-changing issues while being sleep-deprived.
  • Many of us have problems at work, either person- or issue-related that may be troubling.
  • Lots of people have financial problems that they are trying to resolve.
  • There are so many people with health issues ranging from acute and immediate to chronic and debilitating.

All of these, and so many more, are problems that keep us awake at night. We all have some type of problem that we’re working on. Some are obviously more critical than others and they may come and go, but the one thing we have in common is that we all have to get through something. We all have problems that require our attention.

Additionally, people all handle problems differently. What one person considers minimal, somebody else may interpret (and react to) as a monumental problem. Stress also affects each of us differently and would affect our reactions and behavior. Our individual history may also affect our situation. Who is to say that one problem is worse than somebody else’s? There is absolutely no grading scale on problems, reactions, or situations.

There are a lot of factors that can influence how our problems affect our situation. The one thing we have in common is that we all have problems that worry us, can sometimes consume us, and that can affect how we live, how we think, and how we act. Since we know this, we should also have more in common with each other: compassion and understanding for ourselves and for each other.

For ourselves, it’s important that we cut ourselves some slack. Many times, we tend to be harder on ourselves than on other people. We expect a lot from ourselves. Allow yourself the time and patience to heal, to grieve, or to work toward resolution of the problem that you’re dealing with.

When dealing with other people, no matter who they are, be generous with your time, compassion, and patience. They, too, are going through situations and problems that we are unaware of, situations that are consuming their time, attention, and patience.

I’m not trying to be negative in saying that we all have problems, but it’s a reality in our fast-paced world that we’re all stressed and experience negative thoughts or experiences. I would like to think that, by taking the time to remember that everybody else we talk to or interact with has similar experiences, we might be a bit more kind or thoughtful to each other. If we could do this, it might just make somebody’s life a little bit easier and, after all, how much more positive could that be?

I’m Lying Every Day

chronic_illness_lying
lying

Because I have a chronic illness, I’m forced to lie every single day.  When you see people at work or at the grocery store or when you see a neighbor out front, our standard greeting nowadays is usually some form of “how are you?”.  It’s at this point that I’m forced to lie, for everybody’s benefit.  For the person asking, they certainly don’t want to hear how I’m actually doing.  How am I supposed to convey the enormity of how this illness affects me every single day of my life?  How could I explain the very real impact of how I feel physically, mentally, and emotionally?  How should I explain my life to them when, nice as they are to ask, they really don’t care at all; they simply asked me to be nice, as a social greeting.  For my own benefit, I’d like to continue to see that person and say “Hi, how are you” and make small talk after today, so I will continue to lie and say “Fine, how are you?”.  How many of us do this every day without really asking how the person is? Continue reading “I’m Lying Every Day”

Lupus Awareness Month

lupus_awareness
lupus awareness

I’d like to talk about something close to my heart this month.  As some of my readers are aware, I live with a few autoimmune diseases, as do many other people.  Most of these diseases are not easily diagnosed and they are not well-known to the majority of people.   I think most of us have heard the name lupus, but don’t know too much more than that.  This is one reason that it is so critically underfunded.  We need to raise awareness of the symptoms so that more people are diagnosed earlier and are able to seek medical help.  I’d like to have more of us become aware of the impact that lupus and other autoimmune diseases can have on our friends, our family, and our co-workers and how you can help to support them.  This is why I’d like to devote some of my posts this month to the issue.  You will find these (and previously posted) articles under the category of “Chronic Illness”.

There is no cure for lupus.  Many of the medications that are being used to treat the symptoms create significant problems in their own right.  We need awareness and support to find a cure and better treatment options.

By posting a few informational articles, I’m hoping to increase awareness, to inspire support, and to raise interest in the subject.  I am fully aware that this is just one of many causes that we’re all provided information on and we certainly can’t support everything.  In addition to lupus and others, I always support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the American Heart Association for personal reasons.  It is my hope that you will learn more about lupus and autoimmune disease in order to provide support as well as to help increase awareness.

Thank you for your understanding.

If you read any of the literature and would like to send me a personal question or comment, please contact me from the site (top right corner/contact me) or email me directly at debsordinarylife@gmail.com.

I always love hearing from you and appreciate the comments that you post!

Today Has Been Cancelled

wishful day
wishful day

I am so frustrated today!  I went outside to take the dogs out and realized it was actually pretty warm outside.  What a perfect day to pull in my Thanksgiving/fall decorations, wrap up my patio furniture for the winter, and string my Christmas lights.  Of course, I’m not going to do any of that.  Instead, I’m going to stay in the house, lay low, and try not to be super frustrated with myself.

I woke up yesterday running a fever and it has decided to stick around.  One of the frustrations of having a chronic illness is that this happens to you and it happens more often than we admit.  I think, for the most part, we eventually come to accept the reality that we just can’t do everything that we want to do but it really hits home when you can’t do ANYTHING that you want to do.  Luckily, I didn’t have any plans made already or I would have had to cancel, which would make me feel even worse.  Because we worry about this possibility so often, I think it gives us a heightened sense of disappointment when it does happen.  I know that it’s counter-intuitive to think about becoming sick because stress and worry are two things that actually contribute to it.  However, because it’s a fact of life for us, it’s unavoidable.  I should have recognized the signs but, because we have so much to do around the holidays, we sometimes refuse to recognize, or acknowledge, the fact that we’re doing too much.  I am so stubborn about having to limit what I do that I am not always doing what I need to.  It’s like I’m convinced that if I am able to push through, just this once, I may be rewarded for my efforts and have no repercussions.  Sometimes it works but usually it doesn’t.

I’m lucky.  Most of the people I make plans with are my family and they would completely understand if I need to cancel on them.  I rarely do it because I don’t want to abuse their understanding and I truly enjoy spending time with them.  I know that some of us have it more difficult than I do and have lost friends and family members over it.  We tend to hesitate and not reach out as often in order to avoid disappointment.   I have a few friends that I’ve had to cancel on and don’t see as often, which is hard.  It’s hard to make plans in advance or to have to call at the last minute and see if we can change plans.  It’s unfair to ask somebody to come over to my house just because it’s easier for me, so sometimes time goes by without seeing them.

It’s gotten pretty easy to put on a happy face most of the time.  That’s what we do.  It does not mean, however, that this doesn’t affect us; it just means that we’ve gotten to the professional level of hiding how we feel.  I’m embarrassed and disappointed when I have to cancel plans.  I’m sad and disappointed when I don’t see or talk to somebody in a long time.  Daily, I think about these things, shrug my shoulders, pretend I don’t care, and go about my day.  Again, it’s not anybody’s fault, it’s just the way it is and another aspect of how our lives are affected on a regular basis.  We don’t want anybody to feel sorry for us or to get angry so we try to hide all these feelings.  Sometimes we do want somebody to understand, though, and sometimes we DO allow ourselves to feel bad about it, especially on days when it’s nice outside and you wanted to get something done but you’re stuck in the house running a fever.  Those are the days when we hope you understand and send us a gentle hug (and maybe a text letting us know everything is okay).

Be Thankful and Be Kind

thankful
thankful

On Thanksgiving, we’re all supposed to be nothing short of grateful and appreciative.  And I am, but that’s not all that I am.  I am also a little sad.  There are lots of people in this world today that feel like they have no real reason to be grateful or have mixed emotions this holiday season.  We live in a time of transition, confusion, and anxiety.  People, depending on their circumstances, feel anything from happiness and joy to heightened stress levels to despair or hopelessness.  This is all okay!  Just because it’s Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you are suddenly in different circumstances or that you can change your life for the day.  It’s OKAY to not fit the expectation of the day, but you do have to be the best person that you can be and to treat each other with kindness. Continue reading “Be Thankful and Be Kind”