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When I Feel Like a Burden to Others Because of My Chronic Illness

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Some days I feel like a burden. I know having hypothyroidismHashimoto’sadrenal fatigue (the list goes on) is not my fault, but I do, at times, feel like I put people out because of it. I feel as if I cause them trouble. At times, I feel as if me just existing puts a huge weight on the world. 

It can be anything.

It can be me making my other half run late for work because I woke up exhausted and stiff and am struggling to get ready.

It can be me out with friends, looking for somewhere to eat but making it difficult because I can’t eat gluten, so this restricts our choices of restaurants considerably.

It can be me awkwardly explaining that I’d rather not stay overnight at a friend or family member’s house because I desperately need a good sleep in my own bed with the ability to wake up and get up whenever I want without feeling the need to be up at an “acceptable” time.

Those around me wouldn’t say to me that I’m being a burden, a pain or any trouble. They may however give me a “Why are you being so awkward?” look or not understand my situation. I may get a look of frustration, a roll of eyes or a huff and a puff as I’m trying my best to deal with these life-changing conditions, and that breaks my heart. I’m trying to hold it all together inside and get on with it as best I can and lead as normal a life as possible unaffected by my health conditions. But it’s clear I’m not doing a good enough job. Or so I think. Perhaps I imagine all of this at times. That’s possible, too.

One part that frustrates me most about being unwell is what it throws at my friends and family and what they have to deal with, too. I have always been someone who wants everyone else to be happy. I’ll always put others before myself, and so it is extremely difficult for me to accept the concept of being a burden on others. I’m naturally a very independent person.

It doesn’t matter if people tell me, “You’re not a burden.” I’ll still think of it if I sense any sign of them being frustrated or unimpressed with me. I beat myself up for not covering it so well and tell myself that next time I’ll wear an even bigger smile and push myself even more. I’ll plan ahead.

I’ll do better. 

However, I am a fighter and I ought to be proud for what I have accomplished. For the most part, I do well coping with my autoimmune hypothyroidism and adrenal issues, but mornings are incredibly hard for me when I wake feeling stiff, exhausted, low in mood and motivation. And I also have these days where I crash or have a flare-up. A flare-up can mean an increase in symptoms, such as fatigue (I mean pure exhaustion, not just “feeling tired”), muscle aches, pain, weakness and being easily stressed and irritable.

I tend to also be very emotional. I isolate myself in order to cope. I call these days “bad thyroid days.” They can be triggered by eating gluten, for example, or by taking on too much and overexerting myself. But often, I don’t know the reason. It’s another one of the wonderful parts of having these conditions.

However, I work hard to raise awareness for hypothyroidism and the related issues, and I have passion for helping others with it. On days where I feel like a burden, when I feel useless and helpless, I tell myself that maybe the good I offer to the world offsets the baggage that comes with me as part of my health conditions.

Follow this journey on The Invisible Hypothyroidism.

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Originally published: November 29, 2016
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