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The Guilt of Prioritizing Yourself When You're Chronically Sick

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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.

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Thinkstock photo by Victor_Tongdee

Originally published: February 21, 2017
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