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Why It's OK to Take Time for Yourself If You Can't Always Give 100%

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I was meant to go to work this morning. I couldn’t do it. I drove most of the way there, in tears, trying to explain to my husband (who was in the car) why I couldn’t go. It came down to this…

I have ulcerative colitis, depression and generalized anxiety disorder. Over the past 18 months, all three have been getting worse and, as I’m sure you’ll all recognize, physical and mental health are so intertwined that I’ve ended up in a downward spiral of ill health. I’m so exhausted with having to battle this unholy trinity of issues that there’s no way I’m operating at 100%. Not even close. Maybe 20% on a good day if I’m lucky.

So I got to thinking about how I’m trying to spread that 20% around.

I’m trying to be a good daughter, a good wife, a good fur-mommy to our pupper, a good worker and a good person. This comes as no surprise because we’re all doing it. We’re all just trying to be the best in every aspect of our lives. And we, as individuals, usually also come last.

If I was feeling 100% and I could give my all, every aspect of my life could expect a share of that 100%. But right now they are having to share 20%, so it’s no great shock that I feel like I’m failing in every aspect of my life because I can’t give any of them the attention they deserve.

When I explained it to my husband like that, I think I had more of a moment of realization than he did. Of course I can’t give it my all right now because I’m constantly fighting against my own expectations of perfection as well as my illnesses. This needs to change. And so it will. I’m going to take six months off work so that I can focus that 20% on me with the support of my husband and my family, and the unconditional waggy-tailed love that I get from my dog.

For a while I’m just going to focus on me. On getting my physical and mental health under control, re-assessing my priorities and my expectations, and maybe setting some easier goals for myself that mean in six months time I might be operating at 80%. Or something better than 20% anyway.

So if you’re feeling like you can’t give 100%, that’s OK. Sometimes we can’t and that’s just the way it is. But do yourself favor and treat yourself with kindness. Don’t keep pushing on, ignoring your health and trying to make everything work, because in the end the one thing that won’t work is you. Take the time to heal and be the best that you can be for you. Everything else can wait for a while.

Header image via g-stockstudio/Getty Images

Originally published: April 28, 2019
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