I think most people have thoughts that repeat themselves over and over in their brains, but they would never say out loud. If they did, they would probably realise they’re not really true… but we are all so critical of ourselves. We would never dream of pointing out a friend’s ‘imperfections’ or telling them they weren’t good enough, but for some reason we see no problem in doing it to ourselves!
I am lucky enough to have fairly good self-esteem (helped massively by being brought up by loving parents who always made me feel ‘good enough’), but I realised that when it comes to chronic illness, it’s different. I’m much more critical of myself in relation to my health, and my perceived failures due to being unwell. I worry about how it affects other people, I constantly have unrealistic expectations and then get disappointed when I can’t do what everyone else can.
I decided to put these thoughts down in words – partly to convince myself they’re not true and I’m being too critical, and partly because I reckon lots of my fellow spoonies have the same thoughts all the time! Let me know if I’m right 🙂
Five Things I Tell Myself as a Spoonie
1) Everyone thinks I’m unreliable! I say yes to invites and then have to cancel on the day of the event…sometimes even a few hours before, as I felt ok in the morning and then got worse later on. Eventually people will get fed up and stop inviting me places!
2) Lots of people think I’m faking or exaggerating my illnesses. They will see/hear about the once or twice a month I manage to get out somewhere and assume I’m “not that bad”. They’ll wonder why I can’t work if I’m well enough to go to a wedding (this has actually happened to me)! They will think I pick and choose – if it sounds fun, I’m up to going – not so fun? Nah, I’m too ill!
3) My friends will find me boring! They’ll get fed up of me having no interesting news for them, as I’ve done nothing but sleep, watch TV and go to the hospital. They’ll find it dull that we no longer go for spontaneous after-work drinks, or nice meals out. They’ll be bored to tears when they ask what’s new and I regale them with how my treatments are going or what new medication I’m trying.
4) I am no longer the same person. I’ve lost all my hobbies and pasttimes, spending all day watching TV and sleeping. I can no longer pride myself on doing well at work, progressing in my career, meeting deadlines, getting good feedback in my reviews. I won’t get anywhere in life now and don’t know who I am anymore. If I can’t DO things, who am I?!
5) I’ll feel this ill forever. I’ll never get back to work and then I’ll run out of money, lose my house, end up living back with parents, my husband will get fed up of me being a burden, and then, and then, and then… I’ll die alone and get eaten by my cat…!!
It’s time to stop these negative, unproductive thoughts – they’re getting us nowhere! We might be unfortunate enough to have one or two people in our lives that thinks we’re exaggerating or that finds us unreliable, but overall it’s in our heads! If I actually ask my friends and family, the truth is that they think I cope amazingly well and make the best of a bad situation. People often say they’re impressed with how positive I stay, despite feeling so poorly.
The point is, more often than not, nobody is actually judging us! We need to save our energy for the chronic illness battle, and not waste any on worries and negative thoughts that will get us nowhere. I know that’s easier said than done sometimes, and we can’t always be positive. All spoonies have ‘fuck it’ days where we don’t want to paste a smile on and pretend we’re ok, but repeating these thoughts over and over in our heads isn’t going to make things better. It’ll bring us down, give us anxiety, wear away at us day by day.
So if you find yourself stuck in that cycle of negative thoughts, maybe write your thoughts down and then rip them up and throw them away! Or leave them in the comments below and I’ll tell you they’re not true and that you’re a goddamn spoonie warrior!
Let me know if you have the same sort of worries and thoughts, and how you deal with them! Sending love and spoons your way guys 🙂