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Please Stop ‘Should-ing’ Yourself When You Are Chronically Ill

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I am my own worst enemy. I am stuck in the “I should” mindset. This kind of thinking always sets me up to fail. I barely remember what it was like before I was considered chronically ill. I was always a sickly kid and turned into an adult with multiple chronic illnesses. On a bad day, I catch myself thinking “I should be able to get all the laundry done, do the dishes, make dinner, and do XYZ.”

However, that isn’t always possible.

After I have put all of my energy into getting through the work day, I get home utterly exhausted. When those “I should” thoughts run through my brain, I need to immediately shut them down and turn them into “Today is a bad day, but it won’t always be like this.” I need to remind myself that I should be kind. I am going through a lot right now. I have a primary immunodeficiency, I have occipital
neuralgia, and I have a yet to be diagnosed disease. I go into anaphylaxis and get hives for no apparent reason. Right now life is hard.

It is acceptable to take a day off to take a mental health day. The dishes and laundry will still be there tomorrow and maybe tomorrow will be a better day. I need to work on not being so hard on myself. I am positive that I put more pressure on myself than anyone else in my support system. I don’t want to let anyone down, but I am pretty sure I am the only one who thinks that I have let people down. I am not the person I was before I got sick, and I need to stop comparing myself to that girl. She no longer exists.

I need to learn to accept my new normal, whatever that might be. I was reminded by someone in my support system that I need to stop “should-ing” myself. I set myself up for failure when I think I should be able to do something I used to do. I need to take things one day at a time, and sometimes all I can handle is one moment at a time. Living with multiple chronic illnesses is exhausting and sometimes it takes all my energy to just be. On those days I need to accept that is all I can do.

Originally published: September 26, 2016
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