Having a chronic illness can quickly become overwhelming and it gets even more complicated when it’s an invisible chronic illness. When your illness is invisible people assume that you are okay and they have no problem asking things of you. Because of this one of the most important things to remember is “just say no.” Here are four things to keep in mind when it comes to saying no:
1. Focus on yourself first
It’s hard to say no. It’s hard to turn people down, but when you’re sick you need to focus on yourself first. You can’t help anyone if you are not helping yourself. If you are ignoring your well being to do things for others it will catch up with you (probably fairly quickly) and you will pay for it. It is okay to be selfish and prioritize your own needs.
2. Don’t feel like you owe someone an explanation
When we tell someone no we often feel like we have to justify ourselves. Don’t. You do not have to justify your illness. You do not have to explain why you need to do things a certain way. It is your life and your body and you don’t owe anyone a detailed rundown. The justification for not being able to meet everyone’s needs is that you have a chronic illness, period. No other explanation is needed.
3. Be firm in your decision
Often someone will try to talk you out of your decision. They view their need as greater than yours or they don’t understand how your illness works. They may say that you’re selfish or that you don’t care about them. You may be under enough pressure that you start to feel what they say is true, but it’s not. Your health is more important than someone’s last minute emergency. Don’t give in if you feel that you truly cannot do something. You know your body better than anybody else. You know what you are capable of.
4. Don’t feel guilty
Guilt is the hallmark of chronic illness. We feel guilt about everything. You are going to feel guilty when you have to say no, don’t. You are important. You are doing all you can to take care of yourself and it is not your fault that you can’t help someone else. It is out of your hands. None of this is your fault.