When Self-Care Means Saying 'No' to Housework

I hate admitting to myself, and showing to others, that there are simple, everyday things that I can’t do because of one or more of my illnesses. Unfortunately, sometimes self-care forces me to do just that; slow down and ask for help — from strangers.

Enter Rose (not her real name). It had been a few difficult months health-wise, and after being extremely busy to boot for nearly two months, I had to give in and get help to properly clean the house. Now, I know that those who are ill and those who aren’t are having very different reactions to that sentence. There are probably those who will look in perfect disgust at me for not being able to clean my own house.

But that’s how it goes. Sometimes self-care means saying “no” to some of the housework as you have to choose where to use your spoons wisely and “going out to buy food before I starve” kind of trumps “dust all the books.” And simply going to the shop and buying food can feel like climbing half of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Rose went above and beyond. Also, I realized the difference in the number of spoons I have. Whereas I feel half-dead by the time I’ve only vacuumed, Rose could clean the whole house and still carry on a conversation. (I would probably have fainted right there on the floor and lain prone until the evening, if not the next day.)

This made me admit to myself that I am actually ill and not just “being useless.” We all need help sometimes. And asking for it can make life so much easier.

Spare those spoons!

Getty Image by djedzura

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

Related to Chronic Illness

A wadded up piece of yellow paper, turned into a light bulb.

What Failure Means in a Life With Chronic Illness

We Americans are success-oriented, and we loathe failure. But I’ve been wondering if getting better at failure might allow us to become stronger in ways that success never could. Everyone knows how good it feels when you succeed at something you’ve worked hard for. I felt proud when I accepted a baccalaureate degree magna cum [...]
19 'Comebacks' to Use When Someone Tells You to 'Just Push Through' Your Symptoms

19 'Comebacks' to Use When Someone Tells You to 'Just Push Through' Your Symptoms

One of the aspects of chronic illness that some people seem to have a hard time time understanding is that if you have a job, plans with friends, chores or any other activity people might expect you to do, you can’t simply “push through” your symptoms and participate. Even if you don’t “look” sick or [...]
22 Things You Should Know About Your Sick Friend Who 'Complains' a Lot

22 Things You Should Know About Your Sick Friend Who 'Complains' a Lot

When you live with a chronic condition, one that’s with you and affecting you pretty much all the time, it’s likely never far from the forefront of your mind. Whether you’re thinking about how much pain you’re in, fretting over an upcoming doctor appointment or trying to remember if you took your medications, chronic illness [...]
An African American woman eating a salad at a table, with the camera looking down at her.

6 Healthy Cooking Tips for the Chronically Ill

When you are chronically ill it can be really difficult to cook and eat in a healthy way due to fatigue, pain and many other factors. It’s a journey I am on myself to try to get healthier and fitter in the best way I can. It’s certainly a struggle but I have come across [...]