I was listening to a podcast the other day by EYK. Martina was talking about her chronic illness, chronic pain, and also chronic depression, and how she has to make sure she modifies her life so that she doesn't shut down. She described the steps she takes to cope with her chronic illness and how she builds a ladder so she can function as well as she can in everyday life.
I have chronic gut issues. I have not slept through the night (except one time) since my daughter was born. I have some serious autoimmune diseases that I deal with on a daily basis, and yet, I realized as I listened to all the things Martina and her husband do to help her through her day--I try and live like I have no health problems. I put a lot of pressure on myself to maintain a normal life. I don't cut corners or modify my life with my autoimmune diseases and fatigue in mind.
This is perhaps the stupidest decision I have ever made in the last 7 years I have been actively battling against my autoimmune issues (and 4 years of limited sleep, with first Reuben and now Rebekah).
I will tell you that realizing and verbalizing this has taken a load off my shoulders. Now instead of saying "I am too tired" to go out when my husband asks, and feeling guilty about it, or pushing myself to go out because I don't know how to explain the complex reasons I feel I can't, I now say "I didn't sleep well last night because the baby woke up a lot and for my mental and emotional health I am going to stay home so I don't add more to my plate".
This has created worlds of positive communication in my marriage. I never knew how to say that last sentence or even put it into words until I listened to Martina say basically the same thing. My husband and I used to argue a lot because he would want to go out on the weekends but I would be so tired after a full week that I didn't want too. But I couldn't tell him why I didn't want too because I was so exhausted and didn't know how. This lack of information baffled my husband and usually he could push me to go out, thinking I needed motivation or encouragement. Thus I would go out and our excursion would be fun, but I would completely crash the rest of the day and sometime even the next day. I would have crippling anxiety and depression due to ignoring my bodies natural cues not to overexert myself. And my husband would be, in these times, forced to carry the majority of the childcare.
I have two young children, one who still does not sleep through the night. I have serious autoimmune and food issues. And I need to start living like it. I need to say no. I need to take my limitations in hand as I make goals. I need to rest. In this season it is okay not to push myself and I don't need to feel bad about it.
I've made some changes the last few days and it's been refreshing. I feel slightly energized instead of drained all the time. And it's nice for me to be able to communicate why I can't do something and to loose the guilt attached to not maintaining "normal".
I'm not normal. This is my season and I need to adjust to it.