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4 Lessons I've Learned About Having to Cancel Plans Because of My Illness

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If my illness had a theme it would be “let down.” Lately it feels like I have been letting my friends down, letting my commitments down, letting down those who support me and letting myself down.

I can’t remember the last time I didn’t cancel on plans, or avoid making them. Sometimes it’s good to live “in the moment” but in those rare moments when I am well, others usually already have plans and that’s OK, I can’t expect others to put their lives on hold “in case I’m well that day.”

Today has been particularly hard for me as I have turned down an opportunity to compete within Tae Kwon Do, my hobby, my sport, my passion. Despite endometriosis I have always continued to try to remain active, often feeling like each day is a choice between choosing what’s right for my physical health or mental health. I hate canceling plans but here are some things I have learned:

  1. To be kinder to myself – If I can’t make training/birthdays/gatherings, so be it. If you have a flare you have a flare and there’s no use fighting against it. Sometimes you just gotta get a hot water bottle, get comfortable and ride it out.
  2. Make (realistic) plans anyway – If I find myself feeling particularly anxious about making plans with my illness I use that. I prepare for all the eventualities that I can but I don’t let it stop my trying to do what I want (even if I have to cancel, see first point). Very often the “worst case scenario” is based on some painful/embarrassing moment that has already happened, and you know what? I survived it then, I’ll survive it again.
  3. Be open and honest – My boss understands that I’m not skiving in the bathroom, my friends understand that I have the best intentions and will try again next week, my Tae Kwon Do club knows I give 110 percent when I can but take it easy when I have to. It may not be a fun conversation to have, but if you put yourself out there, mostly people are just going to support you.
  4. Take a step back – Maybe competing in martial arts isn’t for me right now, maybe it won’t ever be again, but beating myself up over that won’t change anything. Maybe what I need right now is a step back, to explore other passions yet undiscovered.

It sucks not being able to do what I want when I want, but there are many things that can be enjoyed in this life with illness. There may even be things that I would want to do and haven’t discovered yet! If I have to take a step back right now, so be it – there’s always tomorrow.

Getty Image by AntonioGuillem

Originally published: September 10, 2018
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