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What 'Taking a Step Back' Taught Me About Accepting My Limitations

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Over the past three months I’ve done a lot of soul searching and a lot of thinking, trying to grow personally. I have been learning to accept my limitations and to stop trying to fight the un-fightable. This all started around six months ago when I first made the application for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which was a huge step for me. For years I have tried to keep up with everyone else, and it took running myself into the ground and counting my pennies constantly to realize that this isn’t possible for me. I wish I could work two jobs while doing my degree on the side and living life, but it’s just not an option for me. I was having one too many sleepless nights worrying about how I was going to eat next week. So I took a step back.

That step back helped me to see that I work really hard. Every day. Every time I get out of bed I work hard, every time I shower and every time I go to the supermarket. Every time I make it to my weekly Japanese class and manage to keep on top of everything without giving up. I. Am. Working. Hard. Being able to accept that I am doing enough and working hard enough was a very important step for me. I’ve always been very independent and done everything on my own, but realizing I’m doing my best allowed me to accept the help that’s available to me without feeling guilty.

Sure, this doesn’t happen overnight. Some days I still break down because I can’t go to the supermarket, but actually those days have become fewer and fewer the more I begin to accept the hand I have been dealt.

Two weeks ago I went to Malaysia and completely overexerted myself. Sure, this lead to a couple of meltdown moments, but actually it’s taught me even more so to accept my limitations, and those who care will understand. It has helped me to move towards the next stage of acceptance, realizing it’s not all just about monetary gain.

While I was in Malaysia I thought about what kind of help and support I really need, and realized that while being able to feed myself is a big part, I also need someone around to support me. Up until now I have relied on those around me for physical support, but I have realized that my support needs are quite a lot for someone else to handle, so I’m intending to hire someone to help me around the house. While I originally thought hiring someone would remove my independence, I now don’t believe that is true. Truth is, what removes my independence is relying on friends and family to do things for me, and actually, hiring someone will help me to keep my independence. It means I won’t have to keep people around if I don’t want to, and if I don’t like the person I’ve hired, I don’t have to keep them around either. It’s all at my discretion.

I think when you have a chronic illness, acceptance is so important. Especially when you’re so used to being strong and doing it on your own, you need to make sure you’re taking care of you. You need to realize that it’s OK to grieve for the life you once had. It’s OK to be sad about the things you can’t do anymore and the opportunities you have missed. It’s OK to accept the support available to you, and you are not a scrounger for claiming disability benefits. That’s what they’re there for. And yet, these things are all so hard to accept, especially when you are young. It’s so hard to accept that you will never have the life you once knew back. And yeah, sometimes it knocks you down, but it’s not about how many times you get knocked down, it’s about how many times you get back up. Sure, it’s all been a mess, but still I rise.

A version of this post originally appeared on Lupus

Originally published: April 27, 2017
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