Some days, I feel well enough to make the most out of each day. On these days, I find the energy to clean the house, make food, do laundry, get shopping done, and work a part-time job as a nanny. Although all of this isn’t done on the same day, doing these things gives me a sense of normalcy.
As a 27-year-old woman, I should have the stamina and energy to work a part-time job and go to the grocery store. I should be able to tidy up around my apartment and go about my day afterward. The reality, however, is that on most days, I feel like I can’t keep up with the “normal” routine. When I stop to recognize the strain that many of these everyday tasks put on my body, I feel defeated. In my mind, I am “not doing enough.” The thoughts that circulate through me are hurtful and damaging.
Following are five reminders for myself when this type of thinking gets the better of me.
1. A small victory is still a victory. On the days when I don’t feel well enough to do much of anything, I have to stop and remind myself that doing something small — even if it seems small compared to what I have done in the past — is still something. I try to notice when I compare my bad days to my good days. Comparison steals joy, and it’s best to focus on what I can do that day.
2. I deserve to receive help and support when I need it. It’s difficult to ask for help. Reaching out and asking for help has been challenging because it makes me feel helpless. Asking for help, though, isn’t about being helpless, it’s actually the opposite. When I stop to ask others for support and help, it aids my mental and physical health. It allows me to focus my energy on getting through the difficulty.
3. My current state of health is not my fault. I have always struggled with an all-or-nothing and black-and-white mentality. When managing a chronic illness, this type of thinking doesn’t deserve space in my mind. Pulmonary hypertension isn’t black and white. There isn’t a clear definition of a good day or a bad day. It’s unpredictable from one minute to the next. The unpredictability of it all is no fault of my own. When I’m having a bad day and can’t contribute as much as I would like to, I don’t have the control to change that.
4. Make self-care a priority. I have always liked the expression “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Self-care needs to be a priority for me to do anything during the day. Even if all I do on some days is take my medication, rest, do my treatments, and use my oxygen, that still counts as something. If I don’t take care of myself, I would never be able to help others or myself in the ways I would like to.
5. My worth goes far beyond what I can physically accomplish. When I focus on what I physically accomplish during the day, I get frustrated and angry. I wish and hope to do more only to be forced to come to terms with the fact that I can’t. But my worth goes beyond my physical abilities. Even if I can’t physically get things done as I would like to during the day, I can still mentally be there for others. I can still support, love, and care for those I love.
When my mind tries to convince me that I’m not contributing enough, I have to shut these thoughts down. I need to refocus my brain on the positives, the victories, and make sure I practice self-care to rewire my negative thinking. It’s easy to get stuck feeling worthless or disappointed. Shifting my focus and giving my brain positive encouragement help to create a more healing mindset.
What are some things you do to shift your thinking? Share in the comments section.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.