What I’ve Learned from Working Through Illness

For much of my life, I tended toward extremes. I was either super productive, or got nothing done. I was super interested, or could be paid to be interested. All-out effort, or zero effort. I knew this, and just shrugged at it and accepted that was just the way I was.

Fast forward to post-PTSD diagnosis (my diagnosis was the event that allowed me to stop my manic pace for the first time in nearly three years, but once I crashed, I crashed hard), and that approach to life, which didn’t serve me before, is certainly not serving me now. What I was really doing then was balancing extremes. After my car wreck and before I was diagnosed, there was no balance, just the extreme end of staying busy and never stopping. The mindsets and habits that I had developed then led me to do nothing when I wasn’t feeling well, and everything when I was. That really wasn’t doing me much good.

So I’ve learned, slowly, to work through my illness. Some days are really slow, some days not a lot gets done, some days there is no noticeable progress on the to-do lists. But I don’t let it stop me, I don’t give up and I take either small steps or large steps each day, depending on how I’m feeling and what my capacity is.

I no longer shrug at bouncing from extreme to extreme, I purposely regulate it, paying attention to when I can keep going and when I need to pause. I try not to get upset with myself when I struggle or am slow, and I try not to get too jazzed when I am feeling better and can do more. Feeling good tends to get me excited, and then I can go a bit overboard, which often circles back around to not feeling well. I like the rush, but it doesn’t do me a lot of good to chase after it without making sure I have what I need to do that.

It’s been a long process of understanding myself, my past narratives and my current limitations, but as I finished a project this morning that I have completed in the midst of more than a week of dealing with severe symptoms, I’m really proud of myself for taking those hard steps and sticking with the project when before I would have given way to my narrative of extremes. We can change if we want to, we just have to really want to.

sand dune with foot prints
Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com

2 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned from Working Through Illness

    1. I think it starts with wanting to, then learning how, which I think is different for everyone. I’m so much more than my illness, and I know you are too!

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