Once upon a time I had a daily cleaning schedule that was strictly adhered to and the result was a almost spotless house. It laid my OCD to rest and I was a happy women. Then kids happened which made my house not so spotless, but still I was able to keep it clean by normal standards (if not my OCD ones). Then chronic illness happened and everything went to hell. My once spotless house now has random piles of papers, toys, backpacks, books, and clothes. My once spotless kitchen floor is swept, but not mopped. My beautiful wood floors that used to sparkle now look smudgy because I haven’t been able to get on my hands and knees to wipe them down.
I have had to learn to suppress the OCD side of me and let certain things go around the house. Instead of a shiny magazine friendly house, now I strive to at least clean up the dirt. I just can’t physically maintain the perfect house anymore. At this moment I am annoyed because both the bathrooms are starting to look gross, but here I am sitting on the couch. I wish I could clean the bathrooms to perfection, but I know my body can’t take it today so I’m letting it go. We aren’t in danger of drowning in filth, there is always tomorrow.
2. Defining yourself by your job
I’ve always been a hard worker. In high school I worked multiple jobs at a time to earn money for college. In college I worked 35 hours a week on average while attending school full time. I was always busy working and considered myself successful because I was able to financially support myself. Then came chronic illness which made those crazy work hours completely impossible. I had defined myself so long through my work and financial accomplishments I didn’t know myself. I felt like I was a failure and that I didn’t count as a person. This is something I’m still working on letting go of, but slowly I’ve begun to realize that my worth as a human being is not tied to my job or how much money I make. Even if I never achieve something miraculous, I can be a good person and that is enough.
3. Being the social butterfly
I hate being alone so much that it makes me grumpy and depressed, and as you can imagine being sick has led to me being alone often. I used to spend all my free time socializing because that was how I got my energy. I rarely turned down an opportunity to do something with friends, even if I had just worked all night and was exhausted. Nowadays I’ve had to learn that I can’t attend everything even if I want to. I have to prioritize what is the most important to me and let myself stay home alone and miss out on certain things. I hate being left behind and I don’t know if I’ll ever let this go completely, but I’m working on it.
4. Exercising the way the doctor tells you to
We’ve all heard that we would probably feel better if we exercised more and lost more weight. If we just spent an hour jogging five days a week all our problems would go away. I have put this to the test multiple times. I used to be an active person so I want to be active again. Dozens of times the past few years I’ve tried to keep an aerobic exercise routine. Every single time it ends in me hurting more than before and being so exhausted I have to spend days in bed. It took me a while to learn my lesson, but eventually I realized I needed to trust my body and not the doctors bad advise. My body cannot handle intense aerobic exercise anymore. Instead I need to do gentle exercise like walking or yoga. I’m in a lot less pain if I take care of my body the way I know how, even if it doesn’t result in the weight loss I’d like to see. Overall it’s better for me to improve my health then focus on just my weight.
5. Other people’s opinions
By nature I’m a people pleaser, but I also have a low tolerance for B.S. These two characteristics give me an interesting personality, and in the long run I think that has helped me get through being sick. People judge me all the time. They judge that I’m not skinny enough, the judge that I haven’t accomplished enough, they judge that I sit around all day and don’t do anything, they judge that I can’t work etc. etc. etc. It used to bother me that I was being judged so much, but then I realized people are going to judge no matter what. I don’t have to tolerate their judgement, I’m just going to get over it, move on, and dwell on the important people in my life.