The Guilt of Prioritizing Yourself When You're Chronically Sick

I’m in a constant state of risk, using my energy towards something with the potential to cost me other life events later. It’s a difficult balance, knowing when to push through and feel sick later, or prevent the latter by taking precautionary care of myself first. Everyone always says, “Take care of your health first,” but no one ever thinks about the guilt that is attached when doing so. But, “you can’t help it,” they say. Yes, I can’t help getting sick, but could I have helped choosing to do one thing over another?

There is a judgment in my priorities, when really it is no one’s business.

So you can go out on a Saturday night but you can’t study because you are too tired? Couldn’t you have prevented that by not going out?

So you can have lunch with your friends but not make it to class?

You want to do what? Start your own business because you can’t work a 9-to-5?

It’s difficult to put your health first when even the people close to you question your strategy. You second-guess yourself and feel bad for the decisions you make because people constantly make you feel like your decision is wrong.

But, my question is, why do people feel they need to have an opinion on everything I do or perceive me to do things not in my best interest, when they have absolutely no idea what it is like to live in my body?

Stop caring what other people think, Mer… and I have, somewhat.

But if I stop caring about the way others perceive invisible disabilities, then everything I have overcome and everything I have accomplished in spite of my disability is worth nothing. And let me tell you, my life is worth something, and I will withstand the ridicule and judgment if it means that one less person will have to be perceived in this light.

People forget there is life beyond being sick. It is so easy to say, “You deserve a well-rounded life just like anyone else” but then completely contradict themselves when they believe I prioritize things inappropriately.

So yes, I will go out with my friends. I will spend time with my family and loved ones. I will take a walk over studying for an exam. I will take a nap when chores need to be completed. I will have a few cocktails and not worry about being completely fatigued the next day. I will go see a movie when I could be running errands. If that potentially interferes with my health or your perception of what is “good for me,” then so be it. My priority is to live a life filled with laughter, love, dreams and happiness, and I will allocate my time and energy the way I see fit.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by Victor_Tongdee

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Chronic Illness

texts that say would you like to go out this weekend, that sounds fun i'll try to make it

15 Hidden Messages in Texts From People With Chronic Illness

When you have a chronic illness, there’s a lot that often goes unsaid. With “invisible” symptoms and friends who may not understand the impact your condition has on your life, you may not always feel able to express what’s really going on with you. And if you’re responding to a text, you may feel even more obligated to [...]
A man and woman's feet, facing a body of water and a city skyscraper.

The Challenges of Dating When You're Chronically Ill

No couple is immune to the hard work that goes into their relationship. Each couple has their own unique obstacles that they have to overcome, their own speed bumps to get over and their own challenges. Each relationship is unique. Relationships that involve someone with a medical condition such as an invisible and chronic illness, present [...]
A woman sits at a table, her head resting on her laptop, coffee mug nearby.

Why I Blog About Having Chronic Illnesses

My name is Lisa. I have lupus, gastroparesis, asthma, and I’m currently trudging through the process of being diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. I write about having multiple chronic illnesses.  I have a blog and I’m presently working on a book about the ridiculous things that happen to me because of my faulty immune system. I’m a chatty person so [...]
Elderly woman in bed and her caregiver

Advocating for Someone Else's Health When You’re Also Ill

A couple of weeks ago my mom fell and broke her leg. I’ve been her caretaker for at least seven years, and for four of those, she’s lived with us. So when she fell at 3:30 in the morning, I was with her. Turns out the fall didn’t cause the break. Most likely her leg [...]