Why Setting Boundaries Is Essential When Dealing With PH
Do you struggle to create boundaries to protect your health? Do others say that you are using your chronic illness as an excuse? If so, you are not alone.
Learning to say no and creating boundaries have always been a struggle for me. But after being diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension (PH), I realized that I needed to protect my health. My energy is limited, as described by the popular “spoon theory.” I can’t waste my valuable spoons, which represent my energy levels on a given day, on things like guilt and drama.
In the book “My Life as a Doormat” by Rene Gutteridge, I can relate to the main character, Leah. Her struggle involved her boyfriend, who I am convinced is narcissistic.
For me, this happens most with outside relationships. Those who know me well know that I like to keep the peace. I prefer happiness and don’t do well with drama, because it preys on my health.
While reading this book, I found myself shaking my head as I related to Leah and her goal of avoiding conflict. Unfortunately, living with PH while trying to please everyone around me only adds to my daily stress.
This additional stress causes exacerbations of my PH symptoms, which include chest pains, increased shortness of breath, and exhaustion. Attempting to please everyone around me can also cause my anxiety levels to soar. As a result, my overall psyche is affected.
Growing up, I was often referred to as the “good” or “nice” one. But after my PH diagnosis and the resulting strain on my body, I learned that it’s crucial to put myself first.
Working with my therapist, we discussed this trait. She reminded me that I could continue to be kind and keep my big heart while making myself a priority.
Before, I would get nervous and stressed when I had to decline invitations from family and friends. Making matters worse, I learned that some had suspected I use my PH as an excuse. When people don’t understand my situation and make hurtful comments, it’s challenging to stick to my boundaries.
Anyone living with a chronic illness must create boundaries and stick to them. This protects our overall health. Finding ways to work through this struggle can be exhausting. I’ve worked for about two years with my therapist to try to quiet my negative inner voice that causes guilt or shame.
Have you felt at times that you need to prove to someone how sick you are? Well, it’s not our job to prove this. Our job is to create boundaries and to ensure that we communicate our needs to protect our health. That alone can be physically and mentally draining.
Feeling like we need to do it all, despite how we are feeling, is difficult. Taking a less is more approach while creating boundaries can help. Remember, other people’s opinions of you are just that. You are not dramatic or needy when you set boundaries.
Communicating our needs and boundaries can benefit us. Like Leah, I am working on making my emotions and opinions a priority. Reminding myself daily that self-care is not selfish is helpful. You can do the same, because your health is worth it.
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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.