19 Everyday Things I No Longer Do Because of Chronic Illness


Living in a state of constant pain and exhaustion, which can be caused by any number of serious, incurable illnesses, can slowly rob you of your life. Friends and family see us withdrawing from activities, and employers see us taking more sick days, being late and having difficulty concentrating on our jobs. These things are understandable for our loved ones, perhaps even expected once we tell them what illness we have.

There is much that occurs (or maybe it’s better to say that doesn’t occur) behind closed doors, that we hide from as many people as possible. These are the everyday things of life… the things that keep our homes, our families, our very lives running smoothly. Watching ourselves fall behind in keeping our homes clean, helping our children with school projects and even our own personal hygiene is like pulling threads from the fabric of our lives each day.

With the exception of my immediate family, people aren’t aware of the everyday things I no longer do because of chronic pain and illness. These include:

1. Get dressed for the day. I work from home, on my laptop – actually in my lap. I often stay in a loose lounger or dress all day long.

2. Make my bed. Occasionally I straighten the blankets over the bed, but it never really gets made. That’s just energy I don’t have.

3. Make a real breakfast. I now go for a cup of coffee and toast, rather than making even a simple breakfast.

4. Shower every day. Showering takes just about every spoon I have on any given day. I have to choose between getting clean and doing any other activity.

5. Blow-dry my hair. The truth is, I don’t go out but once a week or two, and blow-drying my hair is just too draining.

6. Put on makeup. I try to put on some makeup if I’m going out, but often I figure I can either spend a spoon doing that, or use it on getting out of the house.

7. Do dishes every day. Even with a good dishwasher, putting dishes away, then re-loading the machine, drains me.

8. Put laundry away promptly (or at all). Remembering to put clothes in the dryer is a major accomplishment. Folding and putting away laundry is a fantasy I indulge in once in a while.

9. Thorough house cleaning. Actually, my husband has taken on house cleaning duties. I try to help by dusting and wiping down kitchen counters and cabinets.

10. Grocery shopping. I have not done serious grocery shopping in at least six months. Bless my husband for taking up this task. I do occasionally go down the block to the grocery store for just a couple of things.

11. Cook dinner. I used to cook everything from scratch. I gradually adopted easier methods of preparing meals, then tapered off on cooking altogether. My husband cooks most of our meals.

12. Eat well. Not only is cooking difficult, but I often have no appetite, and frequent nausea. Eating well is a challenge.

13. Walk my dog. I have a service dog that needs to go for real walks often, but I can no longer do that. In fact, my increasing hermitage means he lays indoors with me most days.

14. Attend church regularly.

15. Visit friends and neighbors.

16. Multi-task. I recall being a multi-tasking queen. That was years ago. Now I crash and burn even trying to cook two things at one time. My husband says I now cook by the smoke detector.

17. Engage in my favorite activity (dog training). Helping other people whose dogs have problems used to be my passion. Now the spoons required to not only go out but to physically work with a dog are too many.

18. Work in my yard. OK, I’ll admit to not being a yard person in the first place. But, I do have beautiful flowers in the front yard, and have no energy to cultivate them, or to even keep the weeds at bay.

19. Date night. Maintaining a relationship with my husband is challenging. We cannot get out together very often, and I struggle to remember he needs attention every time I have a spoon to spare.

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

Thinkstock photo via CentralITAlliance.


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


Related to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

person's hand holding a tea light candle

To Those With ME/CFS Who Feel Like Giving Up

I’m talking to you, yes you. The person lying there in the dark. The person struggling with unbearable fatigue and pain. The person who feels like giving up. I’m talking to you (actually I’m whispering because I know noise hurts your head). And I’m telling you: Don’t give up. Not just yet. I know what it’s like [...]
man and woman hugging and sitting outside

A Little List About What Love Is When Living With Chronic Illness

August 30th was our wedding anniversary, and my husband and I were celebrating four wonderful years together! We were hoping to go out for lunch to celebrate the occasion, but we had to cancel (as is often the case!) as I didn’t feel well enough. Instead my husband used his lunch break to look after our [...]
painting by the author of a woman whose head has turned into birds

2 Questions That Pressure Disclosure of a Chronic Illness

“Coming out” with a chronic illness can be a very anxiety-provoking experience. You put yourself in a vulnerable position and are taking a risk every time. Will the other person dismiss your illness, treat you differently or will it make them uncomfortable? Will they recommend a tea that cured their aunt, or say you just [...]
painting of a woman's back by the author

The Ongoing Process of Grief With Chronic Illness

Grief for me is the acute gut-wrenching awareness of unsurmountable loss. Some days or moments it can consume me. Other times I can empathize with it, talk to it and understand why it’s there. My grief is triggered when I experience reminders of what I can’t do, what I’ve lost forever and of my unfulfilled [...]