The Promises I Made That Will Help Me Put My Health First This Year

Recently I had a conversation with someone who struggles with a different autoimmune disease. She expressed that sometimes reading what I write helped her feel less alone and more like someone can kind of gets it. Not every fight is the same, that is for sure — but knowing when you’re in a fight, and someone else is too, offers you some sort of comfort. I remember reading the words of quite a few people when I felt lost, and learning a way back to where I needed to be.

Being in pain is hard. Not understanding what to do about that pain is even harder. There are times when everything is going right, then all of a sudden it’s all wrong and you are struggling to breathe. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen often enough for me to mention it. There are times when you feel like you have done nothing wrong, but still struggle to get through what would be a normal day for anyone else.

When you are a mother and a wife it is hard, too. There are things that feel like they come before your illness. People. Appointments. Life. You compare yourself to the mother you were before the diagnosis and for me, sometimes it’s actually something I can’t get from under.

Sometimes there are things that should take precedence, and that is a decision each person needs to learn on their own. For me, it’s my daughter. I try to go to everything I can for her — regardless of how I feel or what I need. She knows that and appreciates that I care enough to put her first, even though she gets mad at me because she wants me to rest.

When you work full time, it’s hard. At one point I had pushed myself to the point of exhaustion, and it made me really sick. I want people to understand that work is work — it can be there, or it can not. Your life is so much more important than any job ever could be. It is really difficult to grasp that concept, but when I sat with an IV in my hand it became very clear. I can’t ever do that again, I can’t ever work myself into sickness (not that anyone ever asked me to, but sometimes it just happens), and I can’t ignore the signs that I am falling into that place again.

Time is very important. Narrowing out a bit of time for yourself, whether it is to sit someplace else, go outside, take a walk, stop and breathe — you need to choose you. Even that small gesture shows your mind and your heart that you are important. That your health, and the space they exist in, is not only important but necessary. Who is going to treat you like you’re important, like you matter, if you can’t carve out time to take care of yourself?

I promised myself in the new year to breathe fresh air every day. Even today, in the snow, I went out to see, and feel and “breathe” — if that’s what you can call it. I promised myself I would write more and try to care less. I also promised to love others, and myself, more fully. I promised to let go of things that aren’t good for me, and to hold to to those that are with all my might. I promised to try harder, to love stronger, and to never let go. I promised not to let it win, and to do the things that make me happy, no matter what they may be.

I made these promises to myself, and now to you. I hope you made some promises you intend to keep.

Getty image by amoklv

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

Related to Lupus

black and white image of woman holding her face in her hands

What the Stages of Grief Actually Looked Like for Me After My Diagnosis

You’ve all heard about the classic five stages of grief, right? First there’s denial, then anger, bargaining, depression and finally the highly-sought-after stage of acceptance. Recent studies have challenged the validity of these stages and have shown that people are most likely to experience  acceptance and yearning than disbelief initially when experiencing a loss. We also know that [...]
woman drinking from a red mug outside in the snow

The 3 New Year's Resolutions I'm Making With Chronic Illness

In closing the chapter on another year, I always find myself reflecting on what has passed, and thinking of what I need to change, or what to implement. I don’t think of a bunch of “New Year’s resolutions” because life with a chronic illness is too unpredictable. You can’t really promise that you’ll go to [...]
woman sitting next to a window drinking coffee during winter

What I'm Thinking About This New Year's as a Chronic Illness Warrior

Three, two, one… Happy New Year! You look around the room and everyone is smiling, laughing, kissing and blissful. It feels like in that moment the world pauses. Everything comes to a complete stop waiting for the final countdown of the year. One of the few moments in life where time feels still. Some people [...]

Why I Don't Miss School Breaks as a Former Teacher With Lupus

I’ve been living on the “school schedule” for practically my entire life. Since I was 3 years old, I have been either a student or a teacher and experienced the kinds of breaks that come with that. Summer break, Thanksgiving break, winter break, spring break and more with some variety have been a part of [...]