The Mighty Logo

Struggling to Accept the Days When Illness Keeps Me From Doing Anything

I’ve had some of those awful days recently (they happen now and then, and more often than I’d like).

You know the type: days when instead of your bed being somewhere that you go to rest, your bed becomes a prison that you can barely get out of.

Days when all you can do is survive and when that’s far from easy.

And I know the best thing I can do is mentally accept it and say, OK, bed day, and put my head down till it passes (which it eventually does, no matter how much you believe it won’t when you’re in the moment).

But here’s the thing, I am rubbish at accepting these days.

I was brought up in a society that says doing is good, doing is achieving. A society where self-worth seems to be determined by success.

But when I’m having an abysmal bed day, I can’t do anything. Just breathing, existing (and trying to wash and eat) is like climbing Mount Everest with the flu.

So, if I can’t do anything, my day feels wasted, it feels worthless and I feel worthless.

But, you guys, maybe we weren’t put on this planet to do? Maybe we were put here to be.

You tell me who’s winning: the human who commutes bleary-eyed to work, spends a long day at his desk and returns home to grab dinner and watch TV before tumbling into bed? Or the robin who sings when the sun comes out, the seagull who floats on the waves  – the creatures who delight in the sheer pleasure of being?

OK, I know that when we feel really ill, it’s hard, sometimes impossible, to enjoy simply being. But as I lay there the other evening, feeling sorry for myself and unable to think much other than “ugh, I feel awful,” I heard the rain lashing outside. I turned to see the window pane bejeweled with raindrops glistening in the light from the streetlamp. And a small part of me felt lucky.

I used to be that person who did, did, did. Who didn’t even notice that the garden was starting to flower. Now, when I can get to the garden, I delight in seeing how my daffodils are coming on.

In reality, I know it’s horrible to not be able to do. And extremely frustrating when there’s so much you want to do but your body won’t cooperate.

But  That my life is still worthwhile. And that I am enough. No, I can’t do. But I can appreciate the world around me. Because who says doing is success? Who says a day is wasted because you couldn’t do anything? There are so many marvels in this life that are there for everyone to see, but no one stops to look. But you do, lying in bed, sitting in your chair.

Your worth should not be determined by what you can do. You are you. And you are awesome. You are making the best of the difficult situation you’re in. And if you can take pleasure in the world around, then maybe you are the one who is winning. That robin and that seagull have a valuable life lesson for us all.

Getty Image by KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Conversations 54